The Northeast just had its first snowfall of the year, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, winter 2016 is officially here. This means increased energy usage, higher utilities costs, and potentially higher peak demands along with a greater burden on the grid.
Here at MACH, we’ve had a lot of experience with buildings (and winter!). We want to make your jobs easier and help you stay in control this season, so we’ve prepared a WINTER CHECKLIST to assist you in your building prep. Here are some tried and true best practices and precautions you can take so you can worry less about the safety of your building and those winter bills, and enjoy the holiday season to its fullest.
Calendars, clocks, and weather: Just because the calendar says it’s fall doesn’t mean that the weather will always agree. Rather than adjusting your BMS settings or auxiliary heaters according to an arbitrary date, let the weather be your guide, especially given how volatile this winter is looking. For example, hold off on that 100kW of baseboard heat until it is actually cold!
An ounce of prevention: Before flipping the switch from cooling to heating, it is critical to perform comprehensive maintenance protocols. Not to worry – we’ve got you covered. After talking with engineers that manage peak-performing commercial office buildings, our team has assembled a winterization checklist here to help guide you and your team. Tis the season for giving, after all!
Shut it down: If you haven’t done so, please take the time to properly shut down chillers and cooling towers. It can both improve efficiency and extend equipment life. For cooling towers in particular, be sure to drain below the roofline to prevent freezing damage. Necessary preparations for a scheduled winter maintenance include performing a rigorous inspection on all your cooling equipment and adjusting the equipment into a hibernation mode, helping keep costs within limits.
Put a coat on it: Even the most efficient equipment on earth will run into overtime if your building is a sieve. Thoroughly check for air leaks and gaps in insulation. Repair, replace, and refill those insulation gaps to minimize energy waste. And remember that old outside air dampers are a notorious culprit for allowing cold air in and causing energy waste, so be sure that they’re functioning properly!
Security, technology, and data: Data security has been on our minds this whole year. Since winter weather can result in costly power outages from ice and wind, it is critical to back-up all company and client data daily, either onsite or through a hosted, off-site cloud service. Cloud services include benefits such as speedier recovery times, resulting in improved business continuity and revenue. They also offer decreased energy consumption while reducing the amount of space that is required to house storage servers. In addition, always check to make sure your back-up system is working properly before a storm hits. Furthermore, the physical security of your building might need more attention in this tumultuous year. Be sure that your security system is functioning properly. Consider cost-effective lighting surrounding the building, including motion detectors that will keep the property well-lit, safer, and help deter unwanted activity after dark.
Monitor, measure, and meter: MACH Energy’s software can help you track and report the benefits of these winterization efforts in the form of reduced energy consumption. We can also proactively alert you to changes in building behavior that may be undermining your efficiency initiatives, direct you towards opportunities to further improve performance, and give you the data you need to keep you and your tenants warm – starting this winter!
What do you think? Do you have any other tips you want to share? If so, feel free to comment below. We’re confident that by following these simple steps, you can maximize your building efficiency this winter.