The largest warehouses and real-estate-owning companies have long been using Building Management Systems, or BMS, to help manage their property. Such systems have a range of functions, the most relevant of which to HVAC companies being identification of problem areas in energy usage and tuning them to save the client money.
As technology has improved and new solutions have been devised, BMS have become options for owners of smaller properties. Energy usage and waste is only growing in awareness, and in some states like California more stringent laws and regulations bring it to the forefront of property owners’ minds on the daily basis. This provides a ripe opportunity for the adventurous HVAC company to expand into offering BMS systems to their clients.
BMS systems are essentially scaled up, more powerful versions of smart-home systems. Just as those home-level systems can help manage temperatures, lighting, and other home functions to help save energy, BMS systems can tune HVAC units, lights, security, and more to optimize energy usage and save on power costs. These benefits can be realized while minimizing human error and without the large facilities staff not usually present for smaller buildings.
One major customer for these newer, smaller-scale BMS systems is public schools. Nearly every public school runs on a tight budget, making any possible energy savings a significant win. Strip malls building owners and smaller medical facilities are also major clients, but anyone with a sufficiently large building has energy costs they’d like to reduce.
Challenges are mostly tied to cost and complexity, and solutions are innovative. One is the “system as a service” method, which has the company install the BMS system mostly for free and charge on an ongoing basis for continued usage of the system as well as some level of management of the system itself, reducing the need for trained staff.
Like smart homes for residential customers, BMS systems can be a lucrative new expansion for HVAC companies with a strong focus in commercial clients, and the market is only likely to grow.
Most buildings in the United States are temperature-managed with some variation of air-sourced heat pump. They vary widely in effectiveness and efficiency, but all function in basically the same way: take in air, heat or cool it as desired, and pump it into an enclosed space. But geothermal heating might be on its way to making a surge into more widespread adoption.
Geothermal heating takes advantage of a very convenient quirk of the Earth’s crust: just under the surface, sometimes as shallow as ten feet down, the temperature is a constant, comfortable 60 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a few. Such a constant environment means that water can be reliably pumped down to an appropriate depth for cooling or warming then back into the climate-controlled building with far less effort by the overall HVAC system.
The primary downside of geothermal climate control is the high cost of installing the system in the first place. Since it requires digging underground, specialized systems not yet widely used, and some special quirks to the ventilation system, the installation costs are significantly higher than a traditional HVAC system. On the other hand, operational costs are 25-30% lower, so over the long haul you can save a lot of money on your electric bill.
Residential geothermal heating and cooling is growing in popularity, but slowly. Right now, the vast majority of residential properties utilizing the technology are located on the west coast, especially California. But as technology progresses, the equation will only get more in favor of geothermal. If you’re looking to build a new home soon and are willing to pay more upfront for long-term savings, considering installing a geothermal heating and cooling system.
Every HVAC system will need replacing eventually. While new units have always come with better efficiency and more cooling and heating power, new customers can now take advantage of more luxurious technologies for only a small additional cost.
One of the easiest to grasp and most useful functionalities of new systems is remote control via your cell phone. The app lets you monitor and control your thermostat throughout the day, ensuring you never get home to a sweltering hot or freezing cold home – but allowing you to dial back how hard your HVAC system is working when nobody is around to feel the benefits, keeping your electric bill down. For those especially lazy Sunday mornings, you can even control your thermostat from bed to make everything a little bit cozier even once you leave the covers.
Newer thermostat models also have more complex functionality beyond increasing or decreasing the target temperature. Some smart units can tweak other aspects of your HVAC system to monitor and control humidity, for instance.
For the true smart-home enthusiast, high-tech thermostats are also often the gateway to other connected appliances in your home. Companies often have add-on systems that include everything from surveillance systems to garage door openers to video doorbells.
While some big box stores offer home automation systems that claim to be do-it-yourself, they can be tricky if you aren’t absolutely sure what you’re doing. Many HVAC systems and thermostats weren’t built to accommodate external devices and won’t work especially well even if the new product claims it will. For the best results, ask your HVAC technician during your next checkup.
You’re in your home, but all is not as it should be: the temperature is creeping up near 80 despite your AC running at full blast. Here are some quick tips you can try to fix the problem yourself.
Clean the Filter
Dirty filters restrict airflow, causing your AC to both use more energy and not cool as well as it should. Filters should ideally be cleaned every month, so if you can’t remember the last time you did it, this is the first step to fixing your home temperature problems.
If you have a window unit, make sure it’s seated properly in the window so warm air isn’t streaming through. Even a tiny crack can have a profound impact on your indoor temperatures. Even for central air, double check all your doors and windows and look for drafty spots.
Keep the Thermostat Clear
If your TV or a lamp is too close to your thermostat, it can throw off the temperatures your AC is working to fix. Make sure there’s at least a few feet between the thermostat and any heat-exuding furniture.
Close the Windows
As good as your view is, the sun streaming in through a window can add a lot of undesired heat to your home. Pull the blinds and curtains during the day, and perhaps even consider investing in heavier blackout curtains to really keep the sun out: you might save the money spent on your electrical bill alone.
The compressor of your central air unit needs about 2-3 feet of unobstructed space for adequate airflow. The most common offender here is bushes or other plants crowding the area. While we appreciate your desire to camouflage the sometimes unsightly block of an AC unit, it’s worth keeping it clear so it can do its job.
No Annual Checkup
Like any piece of heavy machinery that gets constant use, your HVAC unit needs occasional checkups and maintenance to fix things that naturally go wrong. Ideally you’ll get a visit from your local professional every 6 months, before the warm and cold seasons begin, but an annual checkup should be the bare minimum. He’ll check out all the moving parts, make sure your refrigerant levels are where they should be, and if necessary, provide you repair options that will surely be cheaper than waiting for a catastrophic failure leaving you without AC in 95 degree heat.
If this tip is your first hint that you might need to change your air filter, you might need to change your air filter. If you’re going for maximum efficiency, consider changing it every month in the summer and every other month in the winter. A clogged filter will make your HVAC system work harder to get yoru home to the proper temperatures, costing more energy and stressing out parts enough to require earlier, more costly maintenance.
Keep It On Auto
Most thermostats have an “Auto” setting to let it decide when best to turn on and off to keep your home around the temperature you’re aiming for. Manually switching it on and off can create large temperature variations that cause it to work harder, wearing down your HVAC unit faster.
Keep Your Return Air Vent Clear
Most homes with basements have something called a return air vent. These are vents that take already cooler air and cycle it to the rest of your home since it doesn’t need as much cooling from the air conditioing unit, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. If your return air vent is blocked, say by a large appliance, it won’t work as well. If your home has a basement and does not have such a vent, ask your HVAC professional about getting one installed on your next maintenance check.
Give It A Once Over
It’s an easy thing to look right past, but go lay eyes on your air conditioning unit every once in a while. Over months and years, it might get clogged with dirt, weeds, or other debris. If your air conditioning unit is right by a dryer vent, it might also be sucking up extra dust and lint that form a solid block of fabric along the outside. Remove obvious debris and spray the unit down with a hose every once in a while to keep it free of clogs.
Your AC component is possibly one little step below the roof when discovering how comfy your residence is, but it’s not something you often give a second thought to until it breaks down and you’re left in a sweltering oven of a house until you can get it fixed. Happily, it can be kept by a few modest measures in fundamental working order through the year.
HVAC units are astonishingly complex pieces of machines, and they just get moreso annually as better heat and cooling system electricity and greater energy efficiency needs components and sensitive. On your own, the best thing you can do is make sure your ventilation and ducts are kept in top shape. That means analyzing observable parts of your ducts for leaks, replacing filters on your own ports often, and keeping your thermostats clean to ensure precise signals. It’s also wise to keep the outside of the unit itself clear of debris and dust which will accrue from drier ports or nearby trees. Any component that is dirty or clogged will need your HVAC unit to work harder to generate the same effect, increasing your electric bill and burning out components quicker.
Kept in great working order, you should simply need a yearly checkup from your HVAC tech. He’ll assess oil up the fans and other moving parts, the belts and filters to see if they need replacing, and make sure all the wiring is appearing as it should. AC units will likely need a top off of refrigerant. In case it needs it, he may additionally vacuum the unit to clear it of any debris and get it prepared for the season out. Whenever possible, you should schedule your yearly appointment at the start of the heat or cooling season: not only will it make it simpler to get an appointment at the time you favor, but it helps nip any significant issues in the bud before you’re left with an uneasy house.
When trying to find an organization to supply HVAC services, look for one that manages every facet of the system, including setup and maintenance for both commercial and residential properties. Having their hands in every facet of the company generally means they’ve the most up to date techniques and products. If you do’t want emergency service, seeing that your preferred business has a 24 hour service accessible helps you understand that they staff technicians that are enough to handle it — again, an excellent index that they’re a solid business with workers that are great.
Most HVAC units can continue up to 20 years with proper care, so replacing one should be a rare occasion. This is great, because a brand-new unit can not be cheap. On the plus side, if you’re HVAC and replacing system at the end of its lifespan, the jump in efficacy can be enormous. While you’ve got a big upfront expense, it can pay for itself after several years of stress-free operation and lower electric bills in the hefty heat and cooling months. Your supplier should have lots of choices for you to contemplate that totally match your space and ventilation needs; a great system layout demands ability and expertise and should consider not only the size of the house, but amount of windows, existence and size of cellars and lofts, and the insulating material scenario.
It seems like a lot, but only remember the fundamentals: keep your ports and HVAC system clean, call a heat and air chesapeake va business for yearly service, and when the time comes to replace it, make sure that the business you’re talking to layouts a system suitable for your house.