7NOX Blog

4 Reasons to Automate Your After-Hours HVAC Program

robot worker using tablet

Written by 7NOX Team

August 5, 2021

If you haven’t yet automated your after-hours HVAC program or, worse, have no program at all, you’re missing out on benefits that maximise your staff productivity and cut out wasted time. Automation also helps increase tenant satisfaction and productivity, which, in the end, helps your properties thrive. Here are the biggest benefits from automating your after-hours HVAC program. 

1. Easier Scheduling

The typical after-hours HVAC scheduling process usually involves several staff members and these four steps:

  1. Tenant fills out a work request in person or on the website portal
  2. The request is recorded on a spreadsheet
  3. The building engineer programs the request into the HVAC system 
  4. The facility manager prepares & sends monthly billing statements for each tenant

Each step requires time and resources from your team, and when problems pop up, tasks grow exponentially. If an engineer isn’t available, another staff member has to be scheduled. When a tenant needs to schedule a change, someone must sort things. An AHAC cloud-based platform eliminates these issues by automating many of these manual steps. Here are the steps in an automated system: 

  1. Tenant makes a requests via smartphone app or desktop browser
  2. (Automated) Recording requests entries
  3. (Automated) Programming the HVAC system
  4. (Automated) Sending monthly statements 

Automation reclaims lost time from tending to tedious tasks. You can, instead, spend that time improving your property and tenant experience.  

2. Fewer Billing Errors

By eliminating steps in your after-hours HVAC program, you stamp out inaccuracy. The best-laid plans run into the realities of everyday life. Engineers get sick. Requests are forgotten. Entries are flubbed. Statements don’t match. In contrast, automation software doesn’t lie, get ill and or forget. 

The fallout from mistakes isn’t just the wasted time setting things aright. For facility managers, inaccuracy means loss of profits, and those losses can be huge.

When a billing discrepancy arises, it’s often easier to acquiesce than upset a tenant. Some managers avoid charging for after-hours at all because they fear situations like this. Where this is the case, you’re unnecessarily paying for another business’s electrical costs while shortening the life span for your HVAC equipment. The accuracy of an automated after-hours program ensures your properties stay profitable.  

While AHAC automation may seem like a simple tool, its potential impact for FMs and their tenants is limited only by the lack of exploring its many applications for both.

3. Happier Tenants

Most automated after-hours platforms let tenants make reservations from a smartphone app or desktop browser. It’s a perk that benefits both managers and tenants. Tenants no longer need to waste time filling out work requests, and managers can reduce staffing costs associated with after-hours management. Since AHAC apps fully integrate with your BMS, start and stop times for HVAC service are automatically received, executed and terminated by the software. This frees your engineers and maintenance staff up to attend to higher property priorities.   

Since lease holders can schedule after-hours HVAC “on demand,” this eliminates the need for an advanced notice. Most commercial leases with an after-hours clause stipulate a 24 to 48-hour advance notice from the tenant. But tenant schedules can vary wildly. Some have highly predictable office hours; others manage chaotic itineraries. For the latter, even a 24-hour notice puts them in a tight spot. But by eliminating the need for a notice, automation apps give your tenants and their employees greater work flexibility — a growing priority for workers splitting their work hours between home and office.    

4. More Sustainable Properties

Going on-demand with your after-hours HVAC program conserves energy to. Changing or canceling bookings by mobile device is easy and convenient for your tenants, so they’re much more likely to cancel their after-hours appointments when things change. The upside is you won’t be heating or cooling empty properties simply because something came up at the last minute. With more accurate billing, you’ll get a better overview of your total energy use and be able to find opportunities to increase efficiency and cut waste.

Pro Tip: Identify seasonal trends for your after-hours program and use the data to make targeted improvements in lighting, insulation or renewable energy investments within specific zones of your property.   

Conclusion

The benefits of after-hours HVAC automation make a strong case for its adoption among facility managers. While it frees your team from tedious tasks like reporting and billing, automation’s biggest selling point is it’s a value-add for your tenants.

Clients and their office managers can use the data collected by automation software to streamline their own internal processes. Retail tenants can use after-hours data to set sustainability benchmarks and goals. Software developers could employ after-hours usages in evaluating each team’s productivity and/or cost to a project. Law firms could recoup losses by adding their AHAC charges as a billable line item for a client.

While AHAC automation may seem like a simple tool, its potential impact for FMs and tenants is limited only by the lack of exploring its many applications for both.