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commercial hvac how to combat thermostat wars greater comfort blog

Office Thermostat Wars: How to Avoid Them

Office thermostat wars may sound extreme, but it can be a real issue.

Whether it’s among your own employees or workers–or with your office space neighbors—the good news is that there are solutions that can help you avoid any thermostat wars.

Make Sure Ductwork Inefficiencies Aren’t to Blame

If you have ductwork issues, your tenants may complain that there are what feel like hot and cold areas in their space. When ductwork has issues or isn’t the proper size (and properly sealed!) for the space, no amount of changing the thermostat is going to fix it.

Make Sure Vents Aren’t Obstructed

A mistake we see from time to time is that tenants don’t realize how their actions can impact air flow, and as a result, comfort. Here’s an example with vents: they may close a few vents thinking they are helping to heat or cool a certain area, or they even think that because no one is in a certain room, by closing the vent, they are saving you money.

The reality is that when vents are closed, air can’t reach the room and that just impacts the overall air flow in your building or facility. You can explain it to tenants this way: each and every vent is there for a reason, so if one of them is blocked, the HVAC and duct system isn’t going to be working as it should.

Educate tenants and ask them to keep air vents and registers open and make sure no furniture or rugs are blocking them.

Consider Building Zoning

Building zoning may be an option if you feel that certain areas of your building need to be different temperatures and air control. This can be a certain room or it may be an entire floor, as two examples.

Or maybe you have tenants that use part of a building warehouse and you have other tenants, in that same building, that turn the heat up regularly for hot yoga; that’s just an example of two extremes that would have competing heating and cooling needs.
The great news is building zoning can quite literally can be any “zone” you want.

Just as it sounds, individual zones will have the ability to control the air that is in their zone. That brings individualized thermostats and motorized dampers in the ductwork (to control the amount of air in that specific zone).

You’ll want to be sure that the ductwork is appropriate for the zoning system and that the damping placement will make for optimal control. This does mean that any existing ductwork could have to be redesigned to be set up the right way.

Building zoning is the process of dividing your commercial space into separate areas, or zones, that can each receive different levels of heating or cooling from your HVAC system. Zones can be as large as an entire floor of the building or as small as a single room. Zoning allows the occupants of a zone to control the comfort level of their area, increasing or decreasing temperatures to their taste without affecting surrounding zones.

As you can see, zoning can help you satisfy various tenants’ needs so that they aren’t frustrated or constantly fighting over the thermostat.

Check That the Thermostat Is Working Properly 

Ideally, your thermostat(s) is/are kept clean and dust around or near the thermostat is regularly cleaned and removed. If not, this can actually be the source of your problem and can cause an issue with temperature or airflow.

Besides this,, also be sure that your thermostat is away from any hot lamps, sunlight or other sources of heat – even including electronics you may have, In some cases, we’ve seen people with thermostats that are too close to a window where direct sunlight is directly hitting the thermostat. This can impact the thermostat’s ability to be accurate, and keep it from working as it should.

If you do this and are still having thermostat issues, it may of course be an issue. Typically your thermostat is not acting up just due to batteries – rather, it may be a mechanical or operational issue. There can be quite a few reasons for a thermostat that isn’t working right, so if you suspect this is an issue, give us a call.

We’ll typically check the circuit breaker and we make sure your flame sensor, filters or coils – or a combination of these factors – are not a problem that’s really to blame. (That’s part of why your regular maintenance is important.) If it isn’t a frozen coil or dirty filter issue, we also make sure there is not grease build-up on the thermostat.

Part of the benefit of having an expert come to your home is you can see if your thermostat really has gone bad or not. By checking the wires and your entire HVAC unit, we’re able to get to the root of the problem.

Go Smart or Programmable with Your Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can help combat thermostat wars because you can quite literally tell your tenants the schedule that the thermostat is using and encourage them not to change the thermostat so it can work efficiently and optimally. After all, sometimes the problem is just that tenants continue to change the thermostat before the temperature changes, so there may not be a real underlying issue at play other than control.

The great news it that a programmable thermostat that you (or an office manager or business owner sets) can bring minor changes that do really deliver major comfort. Whether you set it up or someone else does, that can mean greater comfort and it can mean major savings, too.

Also recall that a “traditional” thermostat differs from a smart one because you use a dial to control the settings. On the contrary, a smart thermostat lets you wirelessly manage your heating and cooling system AND it allows you to also manage this via an app.

Many smart thermostats offer many more capabilities, typically including monitoring and alerts/notifications and the newer models also having “learning” capabilities. This can help you combat issues thermostat wars because you can program your settings AND learn from preferences and past history.

The key part is educating tenants so they know not to keep adjusting the settings and so they know the thermostat is on their side.

Learn About Greater Comfort’s Commercial HVAC Services

Greater Comfort is your go-to resource for dependable commercial HVAC services, support, and regular maintenance. From install to repair—and from maintenance to innovative solutions—we’re here to help you with all your commercial heating and cooling needs.

Get your estimate or contact us to to learn about our Commercial HVAC Preventative Maintenance Agreement: call 859-491-4915 or fill out this form today.

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