A commercial property manager inches across a narrow tightrope. On the one hand, they are obligated to reduce unnecessary spending wherever possible. On the other, their frugality mustn’t impact the experience they offer to their customers – or their staff’s comfort, which in turn worsens their productivity.
The implications of this duty are illustrated quite clearly by the decisions a commercial property manager can make with their building’s HVAC system. They stand to save thousands by keeping the heat at a steady 40 °F all winter, and by treating the AC component of their HVAC like it doesn’t exist. But taking so extreme an approach would guarantee certain failure for reasons we don’t have to explain.
You’re not Ebenezer Scrooge before his Christmas Eve revelation. You are frugal, yet you can’t let your attempts to save on heating and cooling damage your bottom line more than it helps it. Here are some sensible HVAC maintenance tips you can follow that will balance performance and occupant comfort.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
NASA launched the Voyager 1 space probe on September 5th, 1977. Despite receiving zero maintenance since then, the Voyager 1 has now traveled a distance of nearly 15 billion miles.
Your commercial HVAC system is not the Voyager 1. It cannot function correctly without regular maintenance, which includes thorough inspection for malfunctions that could impair energy efficiency or create an imminent risk of system failure. A commercial HVAC technician will also perform several preventative maintenance tasks while they’re on-site, including:
- Removing dust that could have irritated occupants and worsened mechanical efficiency
- Checking and changing air filters that no longer serve their important purpose
- Lubricating moving parts to prevent friction from wearing them down
Here’s an experiment you can do at any restaurant. Blow through a straw and feel how much air comes out the other end. Next, take a pin and poke several holes into the straw. Repeat the exercise, and you will notice significantly less air exiting the tip of the straw.
That is the simplest demonstration of the importance of air duct sealing. When its ducts aren’t airtight, an HVAC system’s mechanical components must work harder in order to achieve the same result. Leaky ducts can reduce an HVAC system’s efficiency by 20 percent – and possibly even more, if the ducts are in especially pathetic condition. In addition to reducing heating and cooling costs and extending furnace and air conditioner longevity, duct sealing comes with these benefits:
- Increased safety
- Greater occupant comfort
- Improved indoor air quality
- Reduced carbon emissions
Install a Programmable Thermostat
An old-fashioned thermostat performs one function: detect when the temperature exceeds or falls below a set threshold, and activate the air conditioner or furnace respectively. A programmable thermostat does much more than this. It allows the property manager to specify the acceptable temperature range for any given moment over the course of an entire month.
A programmable thermostat is of obvious utility to any building which has regular business hours. When the building isn’t occupied, the HVAC system can maintain temperatures which merely prohibit damage to plumbing and electronic equipment. But during the hours preceding opening, the programmable thermostat commands the HVAC to prepare the building for human habitation. An optimal programmable thermostat schedule will significantly reduce costs and fossil fuel combustion.
Upgrade HVAC Equipment
No amount of routine maintenance can extend a furnace or air conditioner’s lifespan indefinitely. Once a commercial HVAC system has reached 10 to 20 years of age, repairing and replacing its smaller components will no longer restore the system’s original efficiency.
Even if maintenance could fully revive an older HVAC, that system still wouldn’t necessarily perform on par with a modern high-efficiency one. For example, federal law currently requires all new air conditioners sold in the northern United States to exhibit a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (“SEER,” which reflects an air conditioner’s energy efficiency) of no less than 14. In contrast, the minimum SEER for air conditioners prior to 2023 was 13; prior to 2006, the minimum threshold was even lower at 10.
Choose an Experienced HVAC Technician
Whether you are constructing a new commercial property or simply maintaining an existing one, your budget and peace of mind both deserve the services of an experienced HVAC contractor. Their expert work and sound advice will both ensure that your investment improves efficiency without sacrificing habitability.
If you own or manage a commercial property in the greater Sioux Falls, SD area, then we welcome you to contact Haugan Heating & Air Conditioning today for your free estimate. Our installation, repair, maintenance, upgrade and replacement services deliver the perfect balance of affordability and comfort!