Default Title Choosing a HVAC contractor: Why energy efficiency matters more than initial cost

Choosing a HVAC contractor: Why energy efficiency matters more than initial cost

As a commercial building owner, how are you making decisions about your HVAC systems?

Are you conducting your own mental energy audit — examining every angle in a contractor’s proposals and weighing the short-term and long-term pros and cons? Or is the total price ultimately the final decision maker?

We’ve found that most of the time, it’s the latter: Building owners choose the lowest dollar figure without fully considering a HVAC contractor’s package.

It’s ironic because going with the cheapest HVAC unit up front almost guarantees a higher life-cycle cost.

‘Race to the bottom’ is hurting energy efficiency

HVAC contractors are faced with a difficult task. They typically have to go up against two other contractors in a bidding war. They know that, at the end of the day, the bells and whistles of each HVAC system will usually go unnoticed and that price is the final decision maker.

If the dollar amount is all that matters, then the HVAC contractors do what they have to do to win: use cheap materials. Their desire to win based on price alone means that the commercial building owner gets left with a lower quality product than they deserve — one that will be more costly over time.

An energy efficiency analysis would show that it makes more sense for the building owner to finance the more expensive equipment rather than to have to continually repair and replace cheap equipment.

But these are complex calculations. Without the benefit of years of engineering school and complex computer software, commercial building owners have no way to compare two different HVAC packages. Left without any other information, they choose based on price alone — and the cycle continues.

Bring in a third-party consultant

But there’s a way to stop the status quo: bring in a third-party consultant to aid in the HVAC selection process.

For example, at Bay Efficiency we can help in two ways:

Prior to the HVAC bid, we can conduct a building energy audit of the facility. We’ll send an energy efficiency engineer to review your building — showing you what you currently have and what you will need to buy in your next HVAC upgrade.

During the HVAC selection process, we can serve as an independent third party — reviewing multiple proposals and providing feedback on the long-terms costs for each HVAC solution. With no horse in the race, our chief concern will be ensuring that you have the most comfortable, low-maintenance, and cost-effective HVAC system available.

It’s hard to break the “race to the bottom” HVAC cycle, but the extra time and energy analysis up front will likely save you more money and headaches down the road.