Solutions to Help Maintain Your Self-Storage HVAC System

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HVAC is critical in a climate-controlled self-storage facility, and yet too many owners are reactive rather than proactive when it comes to equipment maintenance. Learn about two solutions that will help keep your system in top shape, lowering energy use and cutting costs.

The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system at your self-storage facility can account for up to 40 percent of the site’s energy consumption. Equipment that’s poorly installed or malfunctioning can increase that consumption by another 30 percent. If you have bad heating and cooling policies in place, that can add up to another 18 percent. That’s nearly 90 percent of your energy being sucked up by HVAC! Not only is this costly, it takes a toll on the environment through carbon emissions.

Thankfully, there are processes and technology you can use to optimize your HVAC system and its use. These solutions can help you reduce energy costs and extend the life of your equipment, and even assist you in capital-expense planning.

Asset Tagging

Many owners of climate-controlled self-storage facilities don’t see the impact their HVAC systems have on the environment—or their bottom line. They simply don’t have the time to monitor their equipment manually, especially if they have sites across multiple cities or states. But this lack of visibility into HVAC operational efficiency presents two main problems:

  • Improperly functioning HVAC units can significantly increase energy consumption and, therefore, cost.
  • Broken HVAC units lead to lower customer satisfaction and potential damage to some stored items.

Both issues are liabilities for owners. Thankfully, there’s now an elegant technology solution called asset tagging, which involves cataloguing the efficiency, condition and operational status of HVAC units. A professional contractor records information about each piece of equipment and applies a QR-code sticker for future tracking and data collection.

Through asset tagging, tens and hundreds of HVAC units are used to paint a clear, 360-degree view of portfolio-wide condition and efficiency. With this information in hand, owners can accurately plan large maintenance expenditures while avoiding budgetary shortfalls and unnecessary surpluses that often occur when expenses are guesstimated rather than based on data.

Sensor Technology

Another solution gaining traction in the commercial-building sector is sensor technology that provides predictive analytics and equipment-operation intelligence. Having a prognosis process in place helps building owners get in front of a costly failures, eliminating pricey and hurried remediation. It also assists in capital-expense planning, taking the guesswork out of what equipment will need replacement and when.

When a self-storage owner attaches a thermostat to a building’s HVAC system using sensor technology, he can then oversee and view anomalies in that system. He look for anything that might be amiss, and compare his findings with operational characteristics of a typical HVAC system to offer predictive analytics. Best of all, these valuable, strategic insights can be monitored remotely.

Today, we see the adoption of statistical, building-analytics tools on the rise. With the reduced cost of sensor technology and the fact that it’s now easier to install and maintain, property owners are more likely to embrace this innovation. Adoption rates will continue to climb, especially as the products become increasingly affordable.

From Reactive to Proactive

Self-storage owners now have access to HVAC solutions that allow to them track and optimize system performance, and collect data that provides insight to equipment age and status. Predictive features make it possible to budget for capital usage over time rather than replacing equipment when it breaks, which is more expensive.

When HVAC failures are predicted before they occur, the time and money savings can be significant. By embracing processes and technology that allow you to get ahead of catastrophic failure, you can turn reactive repairs into proactive maintenance.

Dave Hettinger is a senior national account manager at Motili, which offers a technology platform to help property owners better manage their HVAC systems. He has extensive experience in multi-family and commercial HVAC management, and currently heads the company’s business-development efforts around climate-controlled self-storage. For more information, visit www.motili.com.

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