Your data cooling center drives your business, and regular maintenance is essential for its continued operation. There are two things you can do as a business owner to ensure the optimal performance of your data cooling center.
The first is to keep it as clean as possible. Dust and debris lead to clogged computer room cooling and air conditioning (CRAC) filters, which make your cooling unit work harder, sending the system’s motors into overdrive. Dirty filters lead to reduced system cooling capacity and higher energy bills.
The second is to secure a maintenance agreement with your HVAC system provider.
While many companies avoid maintenance agreements due to what is perceived as overly high costs—they actually save you time and money in the long run.
In order to properly maintain your company’s data cooling center, regular changing of CRAC unit filters is essential. So is detailed record keeping of the data cooling center’s temperature and humidity levels, maintenance and monitoring of mechanical cooling system parts, maintaining optimal refrigerant levels, regular electrical testing, cleaning of condenser coils, and…so much more.
Maintaining your company’s data cooling center is a full time job and should be left to the professionals.
Spring or early summer is the ideal time to secure a maintenance contract for your data cooling center. Remember to look for a company that offers flexible maintenance agreements to keep your operating costs down, and your business up when the heat is on.
Summers in New York City are HOT, but 2014 is set to be the hottest summer on record yet. To help prepare your building for the heatwave, AFGO has compiled a list of essential steps you should take to get your HVAC system ready for summer.
2014 to Be the Hottest Summer on Record – Can Your HVAC System Handle the Heat?
Install programmable thermostats. – A programmable thermostat is a smart investment for commercial property owners because it gives you control over the amount of cooling throughout the building—and, it can lower your energy bills by as much as 75 %. A programmable thermostat also allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day, such as cooler during working hours and less cool at night.
Is your air-conditioner running? – It should be. While it may be tempting to turn off your cooling system in order to save energy—it actually increases energy expenditures. Air-conditioners are only designed to cool a space by 20 degrees. So, if your building gets overheated, your air-conditioner has to work overtime in order cool it down. This results in higher utility bills.
Invest in curtains. – Curtains, blinds, and window draperies not only increase the aesthetic appeal of your building’s interior – they also help to keep your space cool.
Get All of Your Ducts in a Row –Did you know that if your ductwork is not properly insulated, up to 30 % of the energy used to cool your building can end up outside? Making sure all of your ducts are sealed and insulated now will save you money year-round.
Schedule a professional HVAC Inspection- The only way to ensure that your HVAC system is operating efficiently is to have a professional HVAC inspection. While you are at it, take advantage of AFGO’s flexible and affordable HVAC maintenance agreements, so you and your tenants don’t sweat it when the heatwave hits.
While replacing your HVAC system is a costly investment—so is constantly repairing an old and inefficient system. However, before you spend thousands on a replacement – ask yourself a few questions.
- Is your HVAC system over a decade old?
- Do building tenants complain that it is too hot or too cold?
- Are energy bills eating away at your company’s profits?
If so, it may be time to upgrade your HVAC equipment. Your first step as a commercial building owner should be to schedule a professional energy assessment in order to determine if and where there are potential energy leaks in your building. If leaks are the culprit—then congratulations. Re-insulating your property costs much less than replacing your HVAC system. However, the worst-case scenario could be a combination of poor insulation as well as outdated equipment. Taking care of both at the same time will save you more money in the long run.
The next step is to find a qualified and trustworthy HVAC professional to install—and maintain—your new heating, cooling, and ventilation system. Here, it is crucial not to go with whatever company simply provides the lowest quote. The old adage—”you get what you pay for”—is especially true when it comes to the HVAC industry.
An improperly installed HVAC system can be the culprit for everything from mold growth to chronic illnesses in tenants. So, do yourself a favor and make sure the job is done right the first time–call the Commercial HVAC experts at AFGO.
While HVAC professionals have always known that dirty coils severely reduce a heating, ventilation, and cooling system’s efficiency—ASHRAE’s recent study on a landmark New York City building confirms that HVAC coil cleanings save energy.
Energy savings translate into financial savings for your business. In addition to the “hard findings” of the study, ASHRAE concluded that HVAC coil cleanings offer a number of other benefits, such as:
- Increased airflow and HVAC efficiency
- Improved indoor air quality (IAQ)
- Higher levels of comfort and satisfaction among tenants
- Increased productivity of employees
- Lower utility bills
Dirty and blocked coils are some of the most common problems with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems—and could cost your business thousands of dollars a year.
A poorly maintained evaporator coil decreases airflow due to a buildup of dust and debris, causing a change in the coil temperature. The build-up forces the compressor to work overtime, leading to increased energy consumption, higher utility bills, and decreased HVAC system efficiency.
Left untreated—dirty, blocked coils can be fatal to your HVAC system and result in everything from ice on the evaporator coil to an overheated compressor to total system failure. According to the Department Of Energy: “a dirty condenser coil can increase compressor energy consumption by 30 percent.”
One of the simplest and most cost-effective steps you can take to maximize your system’s performance and increase your building’s energy efficiency is to have your HVAC system’s coils inspected and cleaned.
It is recommended that you have your HVAC coils professionally cleaned at least once a year—so why not do it now to prepare for the cooling season?
Whether you need a seasonal HVAC coil cleaning, ongoing HVAC maintenance, or replacement coils, AFGO has you covered.
A commercial HVAC maintenance agreement is the intelligent way to protect your HVAC investment. In addition to saving your company thousands of dollars on operating costs, a properly executed HVAC maintenance agreement ensures the continuous optimization of your heating and cooling system, increasing its longevity and maximizing its efficiency.
Benefits of an HVAC Maintenance Agreement
Much like your health – regular checkups are essential to the performance of your HVAC system. If something is wrong, it is much less expensive to catch it early than to have to replace your company’s entire system. Also, replacements and repairs are generally cheaper under a contract than without one. When you have a maintenance contract you can rest easy knowing that your building’s occupants are always comfortable – no matter what the weather is like outside.
Emergency Service at No Extra Cost
If something goes wrong with your HVAC system, the same professionals who installed it, fix it. So, instead of hiring an independent contractor who is unfamiliar with your system, an HVAC maintenance agreement guarantees you personal and professional service, delivered on-time. Because—if your heating and cooling system is not functioning properly, neither is your business.
Don’t trust your HVAC system to a stranger – a maintenance agreement is executed by the same professionals who installed it. They perform regular checks on your equipment to ensure that everything is operating effectively, efficiently, and safely at all times. And if something is wrong, your certified HVAC specialist is there to offer solutions.
100 % Flexible, Custom Preventative Maintenance Agreements
AFGO offers flexible HVAC maintenance agreements tailored to your needs. Also, a maintenance contract with us means that you never have to think about scheduling your next appointment, we do it for you!
Choosing the right commercial HVAC contractor will ensure the safety, reliability, and longevity of your system.
Here are 7 tips to get you started.
1. Do your homework. Look for licensed and insured HVAC contractors that are in good standing with the BBB. When you find one, check online reviews, and find out how long the company has been in business.
2. Ask around. Word of mouth is any business’s best friend or worst enemy. Ask family, friends, and colleagues for HVAC contractors to call…or to avoid.
3. Check references. If an HVAC contracting company name drops and boasts about its clientele, it should be confident enough to provide references. Call the former (or existing clients) to inquire about service quality, timing, and budget.
4. Shop around. It’s best to get written quotes from more than one contractor. Don’t feel obligated to go with the first company you meet with.
5. Don’t bargain hunt. While you want to gather a few quotes, the cheapest contractor is not necessarily the best one. Choose value over price. Find out if ongoing maintenance is included with HVAC installation or if the company offers maintenance packages for a reasonable monthly fee.
6. Schedule an on-site analysis. Once you’ve found the right contracting company to install your HVAC system, have them come in to examine your property and existing system. They should take their time on the assessment to provide you with a fair estimate and plans for an HVAC system to match your needs and budget.
7. Get it in writing. Before your contractor starts the job, make sure all specs and costs are written out. Take your time to review the proposal, and don’t be afraid to ask about anything you don’t understand.
With over 75 years of experience in the HVAC industry, AFGO is the premier provider of HVAC service, maintenance, design, and installation in the Tri-State area. While we may not be the first contractor you call, chances are, we will be the last!
SEER is to your air conditioner what MPG is to your car; an efficiency rating that determines your machine’s operating costs (i.e. your energy bills).
An AC with a low SEER rating wastes electricity like a Hummer guzzles gas. Both machines are inefficient, expensive to run, and leave carbon footprints the size of craters.
However, an AC with a high SEER is efficient, uses less electricity, and drastically reduces your energy bills.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. It is used by the Department of Energy as a standardized measure of energy efficiency in air conditioning units.
In January 2006, a mandate was passed raising the minimum SEER from 10 to 13 on all newly manufactured air conditioners. Units manufactured before 2006, with SEERs lower than 13 can still be sold and installed.
According to the Department of Energy, SEER 13 is 30% more efficient than the previous minimum SEER of 10. That means replacing a decade old AC unit with a newer, more efficient model could save you up to 40% on your energy bills.
When shopping for a new AC, think of it as an investment. While you may save $100 or $200 on a used AC, if it has a low SEER rating, the “savings” will be lost within the first month.
Remember, a higher SEER equals a more efficient, economical machine.
Energy costs change with the seasons. But unlike your thermostat, you can’t control the weather. AFGO’s guide to energy efficiency will help you control how much you spend (or save) on your monthly utility bills.
Follow these simple recommendations to maximize your HVAC system’s efficiency while reducing your energy costs.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are ideal for offices because they can be set on a schedule. During working hours, they can be set according to employees’ preferences, but when the office is unoccupied they can be preset for lower temperatures. Settings are automatically stored, but can also be controlled manually. Programmable thermostats are also environmentally friendly as they do not contain mercury.
- Set the thermostat by the season. The Department of Energy recommends a setting of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
- Schedule regular checkups for your HVAC system. If you want your HVAC system to last, annual or bi-annual tune-ups are imperative. Even the smallest system problems, such as dirty coils or rattling pipes, could drastically decrease your system’s lifespan. AFGO can help you avoid HVAC emergencies with our affordable maintenance plans.
- Replace air filters regularly. Check your air filters monthly, and replace if necessary. Dirty air filters waste energy by blocking airflow throughout your system, and can cause permanent damage or HVAC failure. At a minimum replace air filters every three months.
- Seal and insulate to save money. We can’t emphasize the importance of sealing and insulation enough. Leaky ducts affect your bottom line, and slow down your system. Proper insulation and sealing can increase the efficiency of your HVAC system by more than 20 percent.
- Cut costs with curtains. Did you know that up to 20 percent of your facility’s energy literally “goes out the window”? Curtains not only up your office’s sex appeal, they save you money too. Keep them open during the day to allow heat from the sun to warm your office. At night, close them to trap heat in.
- Educate your employees on saving energy. Explain to employees that higher energy costs translate to lower paychecks. Ok, that may be extreme, but encourage your workers to participate in energy saving efforts, and hold office contests to come up with creative ways to conserve energy. Offer incentives such as free lunches or spa days for the best ideas. Also, consider designating an interested employee as office energy manager.
Your building could be hazardous to your health. If you, your employees, or tenants experience generalized symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, respiratory problems, and increased allergies that subside upon leaving the facility—your building may be “sick”.
The Environmental Protection Agency defines “sick building syndrome” (SBS) as, “a situation in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.”
Complaints may originate from employees in a specific office, or exist throughout the building.
The symptoms associated with SBS can vary from day to day, and affect each individual in different ways. Research on SBS started in the 1970’s, however a direct cause has not yet been identified.
Contributing factors may include, but are not limited to: poor indoor air quality, inadequate ventilation, various psychological factors, and building operation and maintenance that is “inconsistent with its original design or prescribed operating procedures” (EPA.gov).
If you suspect that your building is making you sick, an indoor air quality analysis will identify air pollution sources within your facility.
Proper insulation is the key to saving money on your energy bills all year long. Many utility companies even offer rebates as incentives to upgrade existing insulation.
A minimal investment in quality insulation drastically reduces heating and cooling costs by decreasing the amount of heating or cooling you need to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your facility.
Older buildings are often drafty due to poor installation and improper air sealing techniques. While this is a source of discomfort—it also raises your energy bills because the temperate air inside your building seeps out, while cold or hot outside air pours in.
Floors, walls, and ceilings retain heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer with added insulation. Insulation does its job best when paired with other inexpensive energy conserving measures such as sealing, caulking, and weather stripping.
Whether you require retrofit insulation for an existing building or total insulation for a new construction project, there is no project too big for AFGO’s insulation experts. A call to AFGO today could save you thousands in energy costs over the next few years.