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Energy costs are rising in nearly every region, and it’s not just homeowners that are saddled with the increased expense.
Developers and building managers of multi-dwelling units (MDUs), condos, and apartment buildings across the U.S. are hard-pressed to find ways to keep energy costs to a minimum. Doing so not only benefits the tenants, but also curbs operational expenses. But finding the perfect balance between cost and comfort can pose a unique challenge for these residential spaces.
In this post, we take a closer look at this challenge and identify how automated climate control systems from AVDG can help cut energy costs without sacrificing comfort.
the challenge of rising energy costs
No matter how homes are heated or cooled, the utility bills are on the rise.
Energy prices increased by 33.3% in 2021, according to figures highlighted by CNBC. Nearly half of U.S. households that heat their homes with natural gas were expected to spend 30% more this winter than they did last year. Homes heated with electricity were projected to spend 6% more. And the costs of fuel oil jumped by nearly 60% over the previous year.
These costs are challenging not just for individual homeowners, but also for large-scale MDUs that need to minimize energy costs for heating/cooling sprawling amenity spaces, hallways, lobbies, and other shared areas.
the role of climate control systems
Conventional thermostats serve an important function: allowing you to control the temperature inside a space. The technology is pretty basic: when the room temperature reaches the desired temperature set on the thermostat, the HVAC system turns off. When the temperature dips below the setting, it turns on the heat. And the same applies to air conditioning: when the temperature is too hot, it turns on the cooling.
Digital thermostats add the cost-saving ability to schedule your heating and cooling routines. For example, you could program your climate control systems to lower the heat while you’re at work, then schedule it to warm up again right before you return.
The scheduling functionality is indeed an important cost-cutting feature, but that technology isn’t exactly new – such thermostats have been around for decades.
Newer climate control systems go even further to increase cost efficiency by responding to your energy habits, routines, schedules, and even temperatures outside the home. That’s where the savings really add up.
how to cut costs with climate control systems
choose a high-efficiency system
Right off the bat, you’ll want to make sure you are using a high-efficiency HVAC system if you want to maximize the energy savings, especially for larger buildings. If your current system is more than a decade old, then chances are it is using outdated, inefficient technology. AVDG’s climate control experts can help you identify the right system for your needs – simply give us a call.
use smart thermostats
In many ways, your thermostat is the “brains” of your HVAC system, so it’s important that you’re using the newest climate control technology available. Smart thermostats enable all of the cost-cutting features below, and many have “learning” capabilities that automatically adjust to your habits to simultaneously save energy and provide the comfort you expect (with little need to ever touch the thermostat).
As mentioned above, scheduling is not really a new feature for climate control systems, but it’s still a critical energy saver. Be sure that you’re programming your thermostat to save on energy when you’re away or asleep. Newer thermostats use scheduling more efficiently, for example, by turning on the system slightly before the scheduled time so that it has time to reach the desired temperature. But there is a caveat here that we cover in the next point …
avoid drastic temperature swings
Today’s high-efficiency systems are often most efficient when they’re set within a few degrees of a desired temperature. In other words, if you’re dropping the temperature by 10 degrees or more when you go to work during the winter, then you’re probably losing efficiency, because the system has to work harder to raise the temperature again when you return. In many cases, it’s better to only fluctuate the temperature by 2 to 3 degrees, depending on the system. Check with your HVAC provider, or the manufacturer, to confirm the best practices for your system.
Zones are especially important for larger homes and buildings. They allow you to set different temperatures in different spaces, while still leveraging a single heating/cooling system. For example, a condo building may want to use zones to reduce energy in some zones at night (such as fitness areas when they’re closed), while maintaining temperatures in common areas, such as the lobby. Used in conjunction with smart thermostats, zones can be a powerful way to cut energy costs.
integrate and set routines
In additional to scheduling, your climate control system can be programmed as part of routines that you specify, much like other smart devices in your home. For example, you can use a “morning” routine to raise the temperature, open the shades, turn on lights, and play your favorite wake-up music. You can customize routines for going to work, vacation, dinner parties, and so on. By integrating your climate control system with your routine, you can save on energy by making the system adapt to your lifestyle.
control it from anywhere
What happens if you forget to adjust the thermostat before you go on vacation for two weeks? In the old days, there wasn’t much you could do: the energy usage would be wasted. But these days, remote-controllable climate control systems allow you to adjust the thermostat from anywhere with your smartphone. It’s a great feature that provides convenience in addition to energy savings.
install more temperature sensors
Newer thermostats from brands like Crestron and Honeywell allow you to install multiple temperature sensors throughout a space, instead of relying on a single sensor within the thermostat. This gives the climate control system more accurate insight into the real temperature, so it can respond more efficiently.
utilize presence / occupancy sensors
Today’s best smart thermostats feature built-in occupancy sensors, which adapt to your presence to adjust comfort and gauge how rooms are used. For example, a more active room will tell the system that comfort in this space is a priority and should adjust the temperature accordingly based on users’ previous system adjustments. In contrast, the thermostat will understand that inactive spaces do not need to adjust the temperature every time someone enters the room.
install door / window sensors
Some advanced climate control systems can be integrated with smart sensors that you install on your doors and windows. These sensors will automatically pause the system when a door or window is open, instead of unnecessarily triggering a major adjustment to the temperature. This results in more even heating/cooling, which can significantly reduce energy waste.
system monitoring & alerts
Even the most minor malfunctions with a climate control system can lower its efficiency. Thankfully, newer thermostats have built-in monitoring capabilities that can identify system failures and notify you of sudden temperature drops or other problems. This feature is a must-have for any residential environment that wants to maintain comfort and keep energy costs at a minimum.
request a free consultation
AVDG has deployed more than 1,200 automated climate control systems for residential environments of all sizes. For more information on how our advanced climate systems can save on energy in your space, and provide effortless comfort, request a free consultation.