Shoulder Season: The Best Time for Energy Savings

Alex Siminoff

October 3, 2023

NYC during shoulder season. The leaves are changing colors.

As the seasons shift from the scorching heat of summer to the bone-chilling cold of winter, and vice versa, building managers need to prepare their properties for the transitional period known as shoulder season.

Parity has found that shoulder season is when buildings waste the most energy because their HVAC controls aren’t properly set.

Among all the seasons, shoulder season emerges as the crown jewel of energy savings when it comes to HVAC systems. With milder temperatures prevailing in fall and spring, there’s less of a need for energy-intensive heating or cooling efforts.

As a result, HVAC systems can and should be able to consume less energy since the outdoor temperature will oftentimes be closer to the desired indoor temperature. By seizing the opportunity to maximize the use of natural ventilation and judiciously adjusting your HVAC settings during shoulder season, energy bills dwindle while occupants still enjoy a cozy and comfortable living space.

While the allure of shoulder season lies in reduced reliance on HVAC systems, they can still be your allies during this time.

A heat pump on the roof of a building. Heat pumps are great for shoulder season as some models can be used for heating and cooling.

Photo by ready made on Pexels

It requires a lot of manual work to prepare your building’s HVAC systems for the heat or the cold. But by leaving your summer or winter HVAC controls on during the fall or spring, you’re leaving savings on the table.

An example is if you’re over-cooling your building with summer controls. You could be wasting energy if your condenser, water pump, or chiller is running too much because the demand in your building for cooling is much lower in the fall than in the summer.

Our HVAC optimization service can automatically and remotely reduce energy consumption by reducing equipment speeds and adjusting temperature setpoints to meet the building’s heating or cooling demand. Let’s take a look at 2 examples.

Shoulder Season Energy Savings Example 1

A 4-pipe Fan Coil building in Midtown runs cooling year-round. The building has a Free Cooling Loop, however, due to the glass construction of the building, there is still a significant load on the building during winter months. This forces the building to run the Chiller deep into the winter.

Parity can automatically switch between free cooling and mechanical cooling operation depending on the building load. We enable the building to reduce energy and costs significantly.

Shoulder Season Energy Savings Example 2

Another example is a building with a Water Source Heat Pump and Gas-Fired Steam Boilers for Heat Injection.

Parity installed VFDs on the primary condenser pump and cooling tower allowing our algorithm to ramp up and down speeds according to building demand. We also reset the secondary condenser water setpoint based on the outdoor wet bulb allowing for improved water source heat pump efficiency with minimal impact on overall central plant consumption. Lastly, we added automatic summer/winter operation to boilers allowing the boilers to operate on low fire mode for DHW production during off-season conditions.

 

Shoulder season empowers property and resident managers to harness the full potential of your HVAC system. Shoulder season isn’t just about comfortable temperatures; it’s about smart, sustainable living that benefits both your wallet and the planet. With the help of a company like Parity, you can navigate this transitional period with ease.

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