HVAC MAINTENANCE = ENERGY SAVINGS
In spite of years of studies, demonstration programs, and published stories to the contrary, most facility organizations today still operate in a reactive mode. Though facility executives know that is far better to schedule maintenance activities using planned and predictive maintenance tools, most continue to spend the bulk of their resources operating reactively. The most common reasons cited for this is the lack of sufficient resources.
This approach to maintenance with respect to HVAC systems is particularly troubling given the role that HVAC systems play in today’s facilities. HVAC systems in typical New Hampshire and Maine commercial buildings are responsible for more than 40 percent of total energy use. Keeping HVAC systems running properly and at peak efficiency is the first step in managing facility energy use.
The importance of good HVAC system maintenance goes beyond just controlling energy use. Buildings today depend on properly operating systems for more than just people comfort. For example, most telecommunications systems have requirements for specific environmental conditions to operate properly. Temperatures and humidity levels that fall outside of this range can lead to interruption in services and even costly system failures. Sometimes the difference between keeping a business running and having to shut down is nothing more than proper HVAC system maintenance.
What Goes Wrong
In spite of all the supporting data and facility executives’ efforts, most organizations underfund maintenance. Reactive maintenance remains the norm, not the exception. Maintenance is deferred. Planned and predictive maintenance remain the exception. The most commonly cited reason for not performing routine and preventive maintenance on HVAC equipment is lack of resources. To many who establish and control budgets, maintenance is an overhead cost. Like other overhead costs, they feel steps should be taken to reduce it. Reducing overhead costs increases profit margins. And the mistake is made believing the only impact of this reduction is reduced costs. Proper maintenance of HVAC systems requires careful planning and forward thinking, both of which become lost when maintenance is considered nothing more than an overhead expense.
Contributing to this belief is the unfortunate fact that HVAC systems are not the most noticeable components in a facility. Unlike highly visible items, such as carpet or lighting systems, most HVAC systems are out of sight and out of mind, until something goes wrong. And when something does go wrong, it is too late for maintenance to be performed efficiently.
Maintenance at that point becomes reactive.
Reactive maintenance is the most costly way to maintain building HVAC systems. Organizations that have implemented comprehensive planned and predictive maintenance programs show dramatic decreases in maintenance costs. And when factors are included, such as extended equipment life, reduced energy use, less frequent system downtime, and decreased interruptions to building operations, organizations that have implemented comprehensive maintenance programs find that their total costs can be as much as 50 percent lower than the costs for those organizations that continue maintain equipment reactively.
While it is easy to blame those who control the budget, facility executives themselves are at least partially to blame. If facility executives are to receive the budgetary support necessary to carry out their mission, they must present their case in the terms that are best understood by budget managers. Simply saying that money is needed to overhaul or replace a chiller, particularly when the chiller is still running, is not enough. Facility executives should be able to demonstrate the consequences of ignoring HVAC system maintenance while identifying the real cost savings associated with comprehensive maintenance. Demonstrate that dollars spent on the maintenance of these systems will result in an improvement in the bottom line.
Let AAA Energy Service Co. help you make a case for proper maintenance in your facility.
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