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Five Ways to Cut Operational Costs

The fastest, easiest path to reducing an organization’s operational costs is to upgrade its buildings’ HVAC systems. Improvements to commercial heating, cooling and ventilation equipment provide both immediate and long-term benefits, including lower energy bills, fewer service calls and less downtime. These savings can be significant, but the key to achieving them is system verification — proof that the system is providing the benefits it was designed for and working the way it should.

Lennox Industries presents five steps below – any of which can reduce operational costs painlessly. Taken together, all five will control operational costs dramatically for now and for years to come:

1. Choose a simplified wiring system and an easy-to-navigate controller. Streamlined wiring with connectors that fit together correctly reduces installation hours and helps eliminate delays on the job site. Plus, units that are easier to install — featuring unit controllers with push buttons instead of dip switches and text displays rather than codes, for example — can help ensure high-efficiency systems reach the energy efficiency levels they're designed to achieve.

Selecting equipment with keyed connectors that are color-coded and labeled is one way to provide a three-pronged approach to verifying that field sensors and other components were set up correctly at installation.

2. Buy equipment with the highest energy efficiency rating you can find. As much as half of the energy used by a commercial building is consumed by its HVAC system: Replacing an older rooftop unit with a new, high-efficiency model can reduce utility bills by hundreds of dollars per unit. Light commercial units such as the Energence® rooftop unit line from Lennox now are rated up to 18.0 SEER.

Business owners looking to upgrade their HVAC system without the large upfront cost should look into a manufacturer's HVAC leasing program. These financing programs can add flexibility to a customer’s operational budget.

3. Find units that conserve energy during partial cooling operation. Systems with MSAV® (multi-stage air volume) supply fan technology conserve energy during partial cooling operation by providing just the right amount of cooling to protect comfort while controlling energy use.

As an example, a school in Sacramento, California could reduce its annual cooling costs 38 percent by replacing a single 9.0 SEER 5-ton unit with a 17.0 SEER 5-ton unit. (Based on the area's average electricity cost of 11 cents/kWh, annual cooling costs would be cut from an estimated $783 to $478 per unit.)

4. Insist on service reports. Regular service reports show exactly how the equipment is operating and verify that service and maintenance were performed. Look for a system that can detail run times and on/off cycles of critical components (compressors, condensing fans, filters and power exhaust), as well as total power-on time and sensor readings for outside air temperature, return air temperature and discharge air temperature.

Service reports give technicians a snapshot of unit operation before and after service, illustrating the change in operation. Units that maintain a log of status or alarm messages (stamped with time and date) help verify that the unit has been operating correctly and there were no issues since the last service or maintenance call.

5. Look for rooftop units with real-time reporting capability. Systems that offer features like USB ports give technicians the ability to immediately save service reports directly to a flash drive, saving valuable time in the diagnostic process. This type of solution can also be used to transfer unit profiles with setpoints to another unit on the roof, making sure the new unit will be ready for operation in a matter of seconds.

The lifecycle cost — or total cost of ownership (TCO) — of HVAC equipment is arrived at by adding up its projected energy usage, the cost of maintenance hours and the reliability of the product, among other factors. Ask your sales representative to calculate your total cost of ownership to determine the savings a new unit will provide, and insist on a wide range of verification features.

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