How To Calculate Your HVAC Controller ROI

You spend a lot on your HVAC systems. Your budget is weighed down by:

  • Direct electricity expense
  • Replacement cost for end-of-life HVACs
  • Maintenance visits to replace end-of-life HVACs
  • Maintenance visits to change filters
  • Emergency responses, equipment damage, and service outages from HVAC failure

All of these factors make HVACs a major expense, which means there is major ROI to be achieved through even partial improvements in HVAC management. It doesn't matter whether you think about it or not. You're losing money every day you fail to implement smart HVAC control.

Lead/Lag Cooling Diagram
This diagram illustrates how smart controllers facilitate lead/lag cooling. If the lead HVAC unit cannot sufficiently cool the space in 5 minutes, the lag HVAC is activated to help until the target temperature is achieved.

What HVAC Controller functions drive ROI?

You don't need an incredibly complex HVAC controller to boost your efficiency and save budget dollars, but any good HVAC controller must do 4 key things well:

  1. It must balance multiple HVACs in a lead-lag configurationt to balance the workload.
  2. It must be remotely accessible (via web interface, SNMP, etc.)
  3. It must monitor temperature (inside and out) & airflow at multiple locations.
  4. It must log a complete timestamped history of sensor readings and HVAC state to support efficiency analysis
HVAC Controller Diagram
The HVAC Controller from DPS handles lead-lag control of multiple units, plus logging for efficiency analysis.

What specific ROI comes from smart HVAC control?

Every organization and every remote site has different ROI potential. There are many different ROI factors in play, and the total of all of them is your total ROI.

The 8 key HVAC ROI factors:

  1. Electricity savings from tolerating warmer temperatures
    With the HVAC Controller's extensive temperature logging, it's possible to chart your site's warming rate at various temperature levels. Due to Newton's Law of Cooling, the first few degrees you can shave from your HVAC settings will save you the most electricity. Once you determine that you'd like to make a change to your cooling/heating settings, you can do so remotely over LAN without visiting the site. On the rare times when someone DOES visit your site, a simple "Comfort" button allows that visitor to temporariliy drop the temperature to something more comfortable for a human. Because "Comfort Mode" automatically times out, it's impossible to waste power by forgetting to restore the original temperature settings.
  2. HVAC equipment savings by reducing total cycles
    Any experienced HVAC technician will tell you that a unit's lifespan isn't just about runtime. Just like with your car, starting and stopping generates more wear-and-tear than continuous running. By reviewing logs from a smart HVAC controller, you can find opportunities to widen your cooling window. Allowing the temperature to rise higher before firing up the HVACs, then running them for longer, means that you'll have fewer cycles per day. This extends your total years of service after purchasing an HVAC. The lead-lag function of a controller makes sure that the required cycles are balanced across all units at the site.
  3. Reduction in required site visits
    When do you visit a site to replace the HVAC air filter? When do you perform maintenance? Is it just a simple schedule (necessarily designed to be EARLY rather than just-in-time) that you use? A good HVAC controller with air-flow sensors lets you actually see the state of your air filters. If they're not clogged, don't visit. If you HVAC is functioning nominally, save your time to visit a site that actually needs help.
    Air flow & temperature sensors feeding data from HVAC vents back to the Controller unit.
    Air flow & temperature sensors feeding data from HVAC vents back to the Controller unit. This sensor data tells you whether your air filter must be replaced.
  4. Minimization of unexpected HVAC failures
    When you use a smart controller, multiple HVAC units will rotate through lead & lag roles, balancing the load across all of them. Rotation forces detection of HVAC-unit failures, so you'll know promptly if you've lost one. Without HVAC rotation, you might be "running on your spare tire" and not know it until your lead HVAC fails and you suddenly realize that ALL of your HVACs are inoperable. There's little that's more expensive than a sudden emergency response and a high chance of equipment damage.
  5. Fire-damage mitigation
    When you attach a smoke detector to the appropriate discrete input, the HVAC Controller will be enter "Smoke Mode" whenever smoke is detected. It will deactivate all HVAC units to prevent fanning the flames of a fire. A manual override is possible from the front panel once the responding technician determines that no fire is present. This simple function could potentially save an entire site from burning.
  6. Fast and easy installations
    The HVAC Controller can be pre-configured at the factory with your desired cooling & heating temperatures. This eliminates the need for your installers to use a PC, as the HVAC unit count and alarm polarities can be set using the front-panel buttons and LCD display. Conduit knock-outs and grounding lugs are available in multiple locations to make installation faster and easier.
  7. Eliminating the need for a dedicated RTU at some sites
    Monitoring temperature, smoke, and other values offers the same situational awareness and risk mitigation as a standalone RTU. At small or medium sites, you might not need a separate RTU at all.
  8. Public-Relations Value of "Green" Efficiency
    If you're in an industry (or perhaps at a government agency) where it looks good to be "green", it's actually possible to gain customers and goodwill through superior HVAC management.

What will my actual HVAC ROI be?

Obviously, it's impossible to give anyone an exact figure without having a history of sensor data from your site.

The best way to REALLY know your HVAC ROI is to deploy a single HVAC Controller at a single one of your sites. Log your sensor data for just a few weeks, then DPS will calculate a precise ROI estimate for you.

If you like what you see at your field trial, then you can launch a wider roll-out. If not, there's always the DPS 30-day guarantee.

Call DPS today at 1-800-693-0351 to talk about your HVAC Controller field trial.

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