Image of an Air Conditioner Repair Man at work.

Years ago there was a TV ad for Fram oil filters in which an auto mechanic made the case that it was cheaper to routinely install a clean oil filter than to pay for the considerably more expensive consequences of a seized engine. His punch line became a classic in the world of preventive maintenance: ?You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.?

Conscientious property managers follow this advice diligently, especially when preparing for a change of seasons. July is not January, even in the most temperate climates. The preparations for summer heat require specific steps. While much of summer building prep happened months ago, there are steps you can take now to save energy in the hottest months of the year.

Keep up with the HVAC maintenance. Each building has unique needs, but HVAC systems share some important common denominators. In an echo of the Fram oil filter ad, one of those basics is attention to air filters. Dirty filters may not destroy the HVAC ?engine,? but they will make it work harder. Clean filters (generally high-quality pleated filters) improve both the system?s efficiency and the indoor air quality, a double payoff for a building?s owners and occupants.

Make sure clear coils are clean. All manner of nasty things ?? grease, grime and dirt ?? can build up on condenser and evaporator coils. At minimum, coils should be cleaned annually. Otherwise, energy bills rise and valuable equipment deteriorates.

Watch for retrofit opportunities year round. That’s key to preparations for summer heat, says Jeff Johnson, operations manager for Daniel Corporation in Atlanta. ?We just had adaptive frequency drives installed on our chillers last December, and are in the process of installing a plate and frame heat exchanger for economizer mode,? Jeff says.  ?We’ll be upgrading our energy management system soon, and a part of that upgrade will be to have chilled and condenser water reset programs set up to maximize efficiency as well.?

Daniel Corp.?s headquarters building is currently LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified in Core and Shell, and the company is in the process of attaining LEED Gold for Existing Buildings.

Watch your energy trends. Set up trend points in your BAS. Trending offers valuable feedback on how much energy your building is using and when, down to 15-minute increments. If you do have trending set up, keep an eye on it. You may have to adjust your HVAC start times, unoccupied setpoints, or building operating schedule to avoid spikes in energy use.