Winter still seems far away when football season has only just started and the days are warm.  But to building managers, it’s the perfect time to prepare for the transition to cold weather.  When the first freeze hits, preparations pay off in lower costs of efficient building management.

Five tips to get you started:

1. Start with the heating systems. Especially the filters. Clear, pleated filters are essential to efficient heating. They also are the major determinant of air quality.

While you’re changing filters, check their first cousins ?? the condenser and evaporator coils. With coils, the enemies at the gate are grease and dirt. Many manuals call for annual cleanings, but twice a year during the hot/cold ?transition? periods is better. Don’t let valuable equipment deteriorate for lack of cleaning.

2. Inspect the insulation. Small breaches create big problems. Repair damaged and missing insulation. And be sure to choose the proper type of insulation for your climate. No one solution fits all.

3. Don’t overlook semi-heated spaces. These are the easily ignored spaces that separate conditioned from unconditioned spaces. The first lines of defense in these areas are the set points. The recommended range is usually 45-50 degrees, but requirements vary with building configurations. Equally important is monitoring these spaces as winter weather changes to avoid pipe and sprinkler damage.

4. Check the plumbing. Here’s more advice from ?Buildings? magazine:

?Conduct a thorough evaluation to ensure freeze stats are set at correct temperatures, power to freeze protection devices are on, heating systems are properly operating, leaky valves, damaged actuators and linkages as well as faulty control sensors are repaired. Check the operation sequence of your chilled water cooling and hot water heating control valves, verifying that the valves open fully when the freeze stat trips and that the outside air damper closes. An audit like this will help you locate and correct problems before they contribute to an emergency.?

5. Monitor, monitor, monitor. There are a lot of sophisticated data-collection systems that help you keep track of what’s going in your building?s important systems, but you need to install and use them. If you’re in the dark about what’s changing, one cold day you may very well find yourself in the dark.