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The question of whether or not adding a smart thermostat is enough to cut costs and increase hvac efficiency and lifespan is a good one!
The answer to the question is simple. No it is not.
Smart thermostats are a great addition to any home to remotely monitor and adjust their temperature and humidity levels in a home and set reminders as well as alert you to very vague issues with your equipment, such as it not heating or cooling.
- Is this really enough for property management though?
I met with a property management company’s director of maintenance for the company. He advised that they took pride in their use of technology to enhance their properties and have installed smart thermostats, locks, usb outlets and an Amazon echo. However, when I asked how his department handles service requests, he advised the following;
- The resident calls or emails the department with a service request.
- He personally calls or emails back the resident to gather more info about the claim.
- Sets a date and time that works for the client and his department to assess the issue.
- Adds the job claim to their CRM (Client Relations Management) Software.
- Assigns someone from his department the task.
- The assignee makes an assessment of the equipment issue and decides if they can tackle the issue or will need to contact an HVAC company they regularly use to come out and Re-diagnose the issue and quote the necessary repair or replacement.
- Then this information is personally passed to upper management for approval.
- Approval is personally relayed to him.
- He then approves the claim to the HVAC company.
- The HVAC technician then puts an order in for parts if needed and a date/time to return (if necessary) to make the repair or replacement.
As you can see, that’s not very efficient at all!
All the while, the resident is left without heating, air conditioning or hot water. Not to mention all the man hours and cost accrued by the property management company just for this one claim. It seemed the homes were using technology to their benefit, but the property management company!
So what can this company do?
GET AN APP
Having an app with automated responses where residents can quickly submit a claim that instantly generates a work order and notifies the administrator, generates an availability based on current work orders and assigns an employee who specializes in the category selected by the resident through the automated responses and suggestions such as heating or cooling.
Thus will eliminate much of the time-wasting, run-around by management and staff as well as give the resident a feeling of relief that their issue is already on its way to being resolved.
INCORPORATE VIRTUAL DIAGNOSTICS
Virtual Diagnostic service like ours at fixmyfurnace.com allows you to save the $100+ service and diagnostic fee from an HVAC service company and allows you to consult with a certified HVAC technician through live, video chat to aide your maintenance staff in diagnosing and resolving HVAC-related issues using your own staff whenever possible. This option alone has saved companies countless hours and increased staff efficiency.
HVAC sensors are critical to obtaining data specific to their locations. Remember that maintenance director I spoke to? Well I had some more questions for him about how they deal with their residents HVAC. When asked what percentage of claims he received regarding HVAC, he replied, “Not much at all, maybe 15%.” He then followed that up by saying “It jumps to around 40-45% in the fall and in the early summer when clients switch from heating to cooling.” When I asked why, he had stated that they DO NOT DO HVAC MAINTENANCE AT ALL! His manager (who was also present during this interview) jumped right up to defend that statement by stating that their residents take care of their equipment and change the filters as if they owned the home themselves, so it would be a waste of money.
Now I might have believed that statement if I hadn’t worked as an HVAC Service technician for a decade and know first hand that this simply is not true. The worst condition HVAC systems are ALWAYS on rental units. I asked Stephanie, a resident renting a house currently about her HVAC equipment and she replied “I don’t touch it, it’s the property manager’s responsibility, I just call when it breaks. I don’t pay for it, the owner does. (Laughing)” When I asked about her filter, she said she had no idea where it even was but “thinks the property manager does that too but not sure.”
This seemed to be the common theory amongst renters. I looked at her filter and sure enough, it was never changed and completely blocked, leading to premature parts failure, strain on the system and massive inefficiency, causing higher electric bills. The lack of HVAC maintenance was costing the resident higher utility bills and poor efficiency mixed with a higher rate of inconvenience when her system breaks down. It was also causing unnecessary repair fees and cost of the inefficient time spent by staff addressing the issue.
Incorporating Bluetooth sensors in your property’s HVAC equipment can allow you and your tenants to monitor individual systems, locations and alert your staff directly with collected data to view in real time. For example, it can alert you to let you know that your filter is dirty based on air flow data collected from the past and compare that in real-time, to current conditions from precisely placed air flow sensors and match that against temperature and current sensor measurement data to come to various conclusions on equipment condition and let you know of potential issue before it occurs. You can actually see the future! This will save your company millions of dollars by virtually eliminating resident claims and allow you to schedule service at leisure instead of being an emergency, needing attention immediately.
You can then create an infrastructure that incorporates all of the important data, like make, model, and serial numbers of equipment as well as the property address and current tenant information in order to maximize work-flow efficiency and cut down on wasted time on the company dime. How cool is that?!
At https;//www.fixmyfurnace.com we take HVAC efficiency seriously and are embracing technology in order to help save our planet and you money! If you are interested in obtaining a consultation to help your company run more effectively and your HVAC equipment more efficiently, please contact us at email@example.com