GPS Can Pose Benefits For Techs

I enjoyed John R. Hall's frank discussion of GPS Fleet Management ("Trust, GPS: Explaining it to Techs," July 12). In addition to the excellent points made, technicians also embrace GPS fleet management as a means to a promotion or raise.

Often, technicians are on the defensive, making comments like:

  • "I was there on time."

  • "I did bill the customer correctly."

  • "I did not do Mach One in the neighborhood."

    GPS backs up their contentions by serving as an unbiased judge or jury. The unimpeachable data obtained by GPS tracking can be used to reward with unique incentives or bonus programs for superior performance.

    For instance, the "65 and alive club" is a monthly contest that challenges drivers to lower fuel consumption over a two-month period. To compete, a tech must keep his truck under 65 mph all month long. Drivers who participate will see their miles per gallon go up, while the owners will see their fuel bills going down. Managers take a percentage of the resulting savings and reward their best drivers with bonuses.

    It has been my experience that HVAC owners/managers use a GPS fleet management system correctly when they apply it as a total productivity solution for their business. Stressing productivity over accountability results in greater gains and higher morale among the team for the long haul. Simply put, when you show how GPS can get a driver that promotion or raise he wants, then management can get the increased savings and productivity they want. With GPS fleet management, everyone can be a winner.

    Daniel Lee
    Vice President/Sales
    FleetBoss Global Positioning Solutions Inc.
    Orlando, Fla.

    Adjusting Thermostats In Summer Saves Money

    Summer savings from thermostat adjustments are even greater than most people realize. When an HVAC salesperson or service technician is in a customer's home, they are the expert. That is how most customers perceive a contractor with a professional presentation. It only makes sense for the expert in this field to help the customer by providing energy-saving tips. Whether it is a short conversation or, even better, a handout, this lets the customer know an HVAC contractor really cares.

    However, with so much information on this topic available, it is understandable that many contractors find it hard to keep up with accurate information. Some tips have been passed around from list to list so many times that they lose a bit of accuracy. For example, Mark Skaer suggests, in his July 5 column, "While At The Site, Provide Some Tips," that setting the home temperature up in the summer will save 1 percent per degree, per eight-hour period. I believe the savings are much more than this in the summer! Let me explain.

    Let's start with winter, since this is the number I see published most often. For each degree you set [the thermostat] back, winter savings could be about 3 percent of your winter heating costs for each of the first few degrees set back from 70 degrees. (Adding a few degrees to 70 degrees can increase the costs by about the same 3 percent per degree.) The 3-percent savings assumes the new setting is for 24 hours per day. A night setback or daytime setback of only eight to 10 hours will save about 1 percent of your heating costs per degree you set back. This agrees with the 1-percent savings that Mark quoted. But the summer savings are different.

    When we air condition our homes to 75 degrees (and let's say it is 90 degrees outside), we are only cooling 15 degrees from the outside temperature. Each degree of this temperature difference represents a percentage of the total cooling load. Since there are only 15 degrees total, one or two degrees represents a large percent of the total load. You could save about 10 percent to 15 percent per degree for the first few degrees you set up from 75 degrees!

    It is important to know what a significant difference one or two degrees really makes in the summer. Why? Because if you lower your temperature from 75 degrees, you can easily add 10 percent or more for the first degree, another 12 percent to 15 percent for the next degree, and the lower you set the temperature, the more summer cooling hours you pick up and the greater the percent increase in your bills.

    Looking at the summer hours in central Indiana, if your customer's cooling costs are $200 per summer, they could save up to 25 percent for cooling to 77 degrees instead of 75 degrees. That's $50 per summer with no initial investment! On the other hand, lowering the temperature three degrees from 75 degrees to 72 degrees could increase your customer's cooling costs an additional $100 per summer. Look at the number of hours at each temperature in your city and see how drastically they increase as you move away from your design temperature.

    If you need help with energy savings tips for your customers, contact your local utility companies. They will be happy to help you.

    Dan Welklin
    Account Manager/Energy Consultant
    Cinergy Corp.

    Send letters to Reader Mail, The News, P.O. Box 2600,Troy, MI 48007; fax to 248-362-0317; or e-mail to

    Note: Letters should include the author's full name, address, and daytime telephone number. All letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium.

    Publication date: 08/09/2004