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checkSet thermostats to balance efficiency and comfort.

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Schedule baseline thermostat settings to increase during summer months and decrease during winter months to balance energy efficiency and thermal comfort.

  • Project Talking Points

    Benefits both energy efficiency and thermal comfort goals by modulating the baseline thermostat settings to align with seasonal and daily fluctuations in outdoor air temperature.

  • Triple Bottom Line Benefits

    • Cost benefits: Choosing appropriate temperature ranges and settings results in energy savings and cost savings. (See case studies for specific examples.)
    • Environmental benefits: Reducing energy always reduces emissions and environmental impact (see the Roadmap Benefits Calculator page).
    • Health and safety benefits: Depending on the improvements made, temperature controllability and thermal comfort should be improved, which enhances patient and staff experience.  
    • Quality and outcomes:
  • Commissioning Connections

    While thermostat settings can be accomplished in conjunction with retro commissioning, commissioning is not necessary to accomplish this measure. The ASHE Health Facility Commissioning Guidelines and accompanying Health Facility Commissioning Handbook are good information sources for undertaking this performance improvement measure.

  • Purchasing Considerations

    If you have suggestions for purchasing considerations, or suggested sample contract language for any product or contracted service, please participate in the discussion below.

  • How-To

      1. Understand your stakeholders and who is on the project team: Facility manager, building engineer, building automation system (BAS) manager, building occupants.
      2. Review historical data from the building automation system to establish whether occupants override the thermostat settings during certain times of the year.
      1. Facilitate Implementation of HVAC Controls System Trends
        • Purposes of Trending – Trends provide critical feedback on space conditions and energy usage. It is vitally important for O&M personnel to have this data to help them manage the facility and minimize energy costs. Trends make it easier to diagnose control problems and identify system operations that are wasting energy or affecting space conditions and/or critical pressure relationships.
      2. Review Trend Data – When the facility is occupied and the systems are subjected to actual load conditions, trends provide the facility manager with critical data that allow him or her to optimize system operations for both building comfort and energy management. Vital real-time feedback can be obtained by integrating trend data into the O&M dashboards.
      3. Use monthly average temperature for your area and the results of the thermostat trends gathered through the BAS to develop a schedule for shifting the default thermostat setting according to whether a zone is occupied. The unoccupied setting should reflect the upper limit of thermal comfort during the summer and the lower limit of thermal comfort during the winter. The occupied setting should fall several degrees closer to the middle of the thermal comfort zone, with the actual setpoint determined by the facility occupants’ thermal comfort tolerance level. Consider broader ranges for this reset. Also, remember that electronic equipment may require certain temperature ranges regardless of occupancy.
      4. Consider resetting the supply air temperature (SAT) to save energy while maintaining thermal comfort. The SAT can be set higher during certain times of year to provide energy savings while maintaining or improving thermal comfort.
      5. Consider using a “dead-band” strategy when establishing thermostat setpoints in non-critical areas (administrative and offices spaces).
      6. Consider resetting zone air supply, chilled water temperatures, and heating water temperatures based on actual zone temperature feedback.
      7. Monitor the results of new default thermostat settings, using BAS data and periodic occupant surveys or reviews of temperature complaint data. Adjust the scheduled settings as necessary.
      8. Coordinate this PIM with the related PIM “Reduce supply air temperature and ventilation rates at night.”
      9. Incorporate an assessment of the thermostat schedule into the facility’s commissioning program as applicable (see the Roadmap performance improvement measures “Retrocommission HVAC controls” and “Practice preventive maintenance of major HVAC equipment.” 
  • Tools

    If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • Case Studies

    Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

    • Key Point
      • Changing thermostat setpoints has helped reduce chiller usage and assure that HVAC systems do not simultaneously heat and cool spaces.

    Terrell State Hospital

    • Key Points
      • Established a policy to set thermostats in regularly occupied spaces to 70-71oF in winter and 75-76oF in summer. Thermostat setpoints are also set back at night, both for occupied and unoccupied spaces.
      • The policy also recommends that building occupants wear seasonally appropriate attire to maintain thermal comfort.
      • Electric space heaters are prohibited; however, staff are allowed to use small personal fans in summer if the thermostat setpoint is too high for their personal thermal comfort.

    St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tampa

    • Key Points
      • St. Joseph's Hospital and Interval Data Systems, Inc. collaborated to describe the diagnosis of complex system interactions
      • Illustrates interdependencies of the chilled water plant and building systems and the importance of continuously available data
  • Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies

  • Cross References: LEED

    • LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance
      • Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 1: Energy Efficiency Best Management Practices—Planning, Documentation, & Opportunity Assessment
      • Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 2: Minimum Energy Performance
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1: Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 2.1: Existing Building Commissioning—Investigation & Analysis
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 2.1: Existing Building Commissioning—Implementation
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 3.1: Performance Measurement—Building Automation System
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 5: Measurement & Verification
      • Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 2.3: Thermal Comfort Monitoring
    • LEED for Healthcare: New Construction and Major Renovations
      • Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 1: Fundamental Commissioning of Building Energy Systems
      • Energy & Atmosphere Prerequisite 2: Minimum Energy Efficiency Performance
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 1: Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 3: Enhanced Commissioning
      • Energy & Atmosphere Credit 5: Measurement and Verification
      • Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 6.2: Controllability of Systems - Thermal Comfort
      • Indoor Environmental Quality Credit 7: Thermal Comfort – Design and Verification
  • Cross References: GGHC

    • Green Guide for Health Care Operations Section
      • Facilities Management Prerequisite 1: Energy Efficiency Best Management Practices—Planning, Documentation, & Opportunity Assessment
      • Facilities Management Prerequisite 2: Minimum Energy Efficiency Performance
      • Facilities Management Credit 1: Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance
      • Facilities Management Credit 3.1: Existing Building Commissioning—Investigation & Analysis
      • Facilities Management Credit 3.2: Existing Building Commissioning—Implementation
      • Facilities Management Credit 3.3: Existing Building Commissioning—Ongoing Commissioning
      • Facilities Management Credit 4.3: Building Operations & Maintenance: Building Systems Monitoring
      • Facilities Management Credit 6: IAQ Management: Maintaining Indoor Air Quality
  • PIM Synergies

  • Education Resources

    • Pacific Northwest National Lab, Building Retuning Training
      • Free interactive course to help you improve your building's energy performance and comfort of the building's occupants.

    If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • More Resources

  • PIM Descriptors


    Level: Beginner

    Category List:

    • Controls

    PIM Attributes:

    • Optimize Operations
    • Repair or Optimize Existing Systems (fix what you have)

    Improvement Type:

    • Commission/Retro-Commission
    • Retrofit/Renovations
    • New Buildings
    • Operations and Maintenance


    • Engineering/Facilities Management
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