Our clients often come to us to ask how they can shave money off of their energy costs. It is estimated that America’s small businesses spend more than $60 billion a year on energy — are you contributing to a chunk of that through inefficient systems? There are a number of solutions for this issue.
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to operate with old, underpowered, or outdated HVAC systems. This is understandable when you take into consideration the cost of a full overhaul of your HVAC system — it can be prohibitively expensive both in time and money. But take into account the fact that even a unit that is only 10 years old can bump up your cooling costs by more than 50% compared to newer models, and it’s clear that efficiency is king when talking about saving on energy expenditures.
Let’s say that you’ve already taken the leap and installed a brand-new high efficiency HVAC system. Is there any other way to save even more? There is — building automation systems, or BAS. The core idea behind BAS is that it’s a central control point for your building’s various systems. Lighting, heating, ventilation, HVAC, security, water, etc. — all these can be controlled by a good building automation system.
A building automation system can be built to automatically monitor and respond to various conditions and variables, such as time, date, and environmental conditions. Imagine that your building’s lights will only come on when there’s someone actually present in a room or area. The HVAC system can adjust the temperature controls and ventilation to only provide cooling that is sufficient for the number of people present in the building, rather than running full blast and wasting a load that energy.
The end goal is that your systems will only operate at a capacity that will fulfill the needs of your workplace, and not waste any excess energy. As a result, it maximizes efficiency and helps out your bottom line when it comes to energy costs. A building with properly set up BAS can net you 10 to 30% lower energy bills — that’s nothing to sneeze at, especially when you’re spending upwards of tens of thousands of dollars every month on creature comforts. If you’re trying to expand and really have to cut the fat somewhere in your business, investing into building automation systems may be the next step for you.
The benefits aren’t just for your energy costs — building automation can also have a startling effect on your employees’ happiness and productivity. In a survey conducted in 2009, 27 percent of workers described their workplace as too hot; 19 percent said it was too cold; and 54 percent said it was just right. In a study by researchers from the Helsinki University of Technology, workplace performance was found to increase with temperatures (a “sweet spot”) up to 69.8 degrees and 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with peak productivity at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
You would think that setting the thermostat to this magic number would be sufficient, but it isn’t always enough. There are many external factors that can affect your workers’ comfort — the most prudent method of maintaining a comfortable working environment may be to invest in Building Automation Services (or BAS) to take the guesswork out completely. BAS can be set to respond to the season, outside temperature, and even the amount of sunlight hitting the building—making your HVAC massively more effective at keeping people comfortable.
If you’d like to learn more about Building Automation Services, we at Level One HVAC are just a call away at (248) 486-6500. We are experts in all matters concerning your HVAC and BAS. If you don’t have time for a lengthy phone call, simply fill out our online contact form and someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly.