A Lennox representative demonstrates how the SmartWire system, found on the Energence rooftop units, simplifies field sensor or thermostat installation with keyed and color-coded connectors.

Upgrading HVAC systems is the fastest, easiest path to helping your customers reduce their operational costs - and the smartest way for you to become their long-term, trusted business partner. When you can help your customers choose and execute the best improvements for their application, the business benefits will be both immediate and long-term. You will increase your business regardless of the state of the economy while also building a loyal customer base for the future.

The savings achieved by upgrading commercial HVAC equipment can be significant. The key to achieving this is system verification - proof that a system is providing the benefits it was designed for and is working the way it should. The following five steps, taken one at a time or all at once, will painlessly reduce your customers’ operational costs and help you build a stronger business now and for years to come.

1. Choose a system with a simplified wiring system and easy-to-navigate controller.Identifying rooftop units designed for streamlined installation will reduce the number of hours you need to spend getting the system up and running. Simplified systems help to eliminate frustrating delays on the jobsite, and ultimately lead to reduced callbacks.

Units that feature color-coded wiring and labeled connectors that fit together in only one way are easier for technicians to install correctly. This helps them verify that field sensors and other components are set up correctly at installation.

In the case of unit controllers, choose a system with push buttons instead of dip switches, and text displays rather than codes. These more advanced systems can reduce start-up issues as much as 60 percent.

Customers will appreciate that their high-efficiency systems are installed as necessary to reach the energy-efficiency levels they’re designed to achieve.

2. Sell equipment with the highest energy-efficiency rating.As much as one-half 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 your customers’ utility bills by hundreds or even thousands of dollars per unit each year. Providing quotes on equipment such as the Energence™ rooftop unit line from Lennox - which is rated as high as 17 SEER - will show the most dramatic difference in your customer’s total cost of ownership.

Not every business owner who wants or needs to reduce their organizational costs can afford the large upfront cost of a new system. For those customers, your manufacturer’s HVAC leasing program can provide an excellent solution that benefits all parties by offering different financing options. Often the customer can eliminate any down payment, and the out-of-pocket monthly payment for new equipment and installation is equal to the reduction in energy expenses.

3. Specify 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 keep occupants comfortable while controlling a building’s energy use.

As an example, a school in Sacramento, Calif., could reduce its annual cooling costs 38 percent by replacing a single 9 SEER 5-ton unit with a 17 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.

Systems with multiple airflow levels are also designed to help control your field hours, with the settings preset and factory tested for fast, effective start-up. Settings can be easily modified in the field to meet specific needs using an integrated modular controller that provides customization and simple troubleshooting.

A service report generated by the Prodigy control system includes runtimes of critical components and an alarm log.

4. Issue service reports.Regular service reports show exactly how the equipment is operating and verify that your staff has performed service and maintenance. To reduce the time required to create reports, look for a system that can save details of run times and on-off cycles of critical components such as compressors, condensing fans, filters, and power exhaust. The unit should also record total power-on time and sensor readings for outside air temperature, return air temperature, and discharge air temperature.

Service reports can give your technicians a snapshot of unit operation before and after service, clearly illustrating the changes in operation. Units that maintain a log of status or alarm messages (stamped with encrypted 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. Investigate rooftop units with real-time reporting capability.HVAC systems that offer unique features like USB ports allow technicians to immediately record information directly to a flash drive, saving valuable time in the diagnostic process. Data for service reports is recorded securely and is easily retrieved for troubleshooting.

This type of solution can also be used to transfer unit profiles with set points to another unit on the roof, allowing the next unit to be ready for operation in a matter of seconds.

The lifecycle cost, or total cost of ownership, 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.

Offering equipment with the features above - which not only reduce operational costs, but prove that they do - allows you to demonstrate total cost of ownership calculations that are more appealing to customers. Adding in the benefits of an HVAC leasing program will put you even closer to the sale. And, in the end, this will help you better manage your own time and business.

Publication date:06/14/2010