With winter just around the corner, many business owners are fretting the high heating bills that inevitably add to the seemingly endless list of ever-growing business expenses. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) found that “about 40% of energy costs for the average commercial building are spent on heating, cooling and ventilation. This equates to about 7.5% of total costs for the average office building, since 19% of total costs are energy costs.” As a total, small businesses spend over $60 billion every year in energy costs, almost half of that devoted to running the HVAC equipment required to keep inside temperatures agreeable for both employees and customers.
Despite this enormous expenditure by businesses owners, many customers find that the businesses they frequent are either too cold or too hot for their liking. A 2008 survey reported by The Washington Post found that almost nine out of ten consumers (88 percent) considered that at least some retail establishments were too cold inside, while 76 percent said they regularly bring extra layers of clothing with them to movies and restaurants.
As any small business owner knows, an unhappy customer is much less likely to convert into a sale. In the specific case of the interior temperature level of your brick and mortar business, when a customer feels unpleasantly cold or hot, they will most likely spend less time physically present in your business. And of course, the less amount of time that a customer spends in your store, the lower the probability of converting them into a sale.
Unpleasantly cold business interiors can also cause problems for office environments. One recent study published by the Association for Psychological Science found that productivity levels of workers significantly drops when office interiors are too cold. The study states that “raising the temperature to a more comfortable thermal zone saves employers about $2 per worker, per hour” and could help businesses save up to 12.5 percent of their wage costs per worker simply by raising the temperature a few degrees.
To keep your employees productive and your customers happy, is cranking up the furnace to ensure during the coming cold winter months your only alternative? Improving the insulation in your building, properly sealing the building envelope, and upgrading to a more energy-efficient central furnace are a few long-term solutions to this problem. However, these “fixes” are certainly not cheap, and might not feasible in the case of business owners who do not own their building.
Installing air curtains or air doors at your main entrance way is another simple, practical, and affordable solution that can help keep your customers and clients protected from the cold while also significantly lowering your winter heating bills.
What is an Air Curtain?
An air curtain is a fan-powered device that is generally placed over the main entrance doors of businesses. This fan creates an invisible air barrier over the doorway that can efficiently and effectively separate the two different environments. Unlike doors or vestibules, an air curtain does not limit the access of the people or vehicles while still providing a thermal barrier for your business. Air curtains are thus one of the preferred technologies for businesses that need to maintain open doors, such as warehouses with loading docks or retail stores wanting to lure customers into their business interior.
The best air curtains, such as those sold by Air Door Distributors, come in a variety of sizes and designs. Some air curtain models can be effectively hidden from sight through a recessed design into the ceiling of your business. Others are designed to be virtually silent so that they do not distract customers or employees.
How can Air Curtains Protect your Customers from the Cold?
The solid stream of air that is forced over the open doorway drastically improves the energy efficiency and thermal performance of a building. Even if your business does not leave its doors open throughout the day, every time a customer opens the door to enter or exit your building, the heated interior air rushes out and is replaced by the colder, exterior air. This influx of cold air causes your central furnace to work harder in order to maintain a pleasantly warm interior temperature. In some cases, the protective barrier provided by an air curtain can reduce business heating and cooling costs by up to 80 percent while ensuring a stable and constant interior temperature that will be comfortable for your customers and employees.
In the past, many businesses have opted to build separate vestibules to protect interior business temperatures. While a well-designed vestibule can certainly protect from frigid outdoor temperatures, vestibules take up valuable interior square footage and often come with a high price tag. A study comparing the thermal protection provided by air curtains and vestibules found that “the air curtain door can save 0.3% ~ 2.2% energy for zone 3 ~ 8, corresponding to 1146 kWh ~ 18986 kWh. Better performance will be achieved for colder climate.”
Other Benefits of Air Curtains
Installing an air curtain over the main entrance doors of your business will not only keep your customers comfortable and drastically reduce your monthly energy bills, but can also improve your indoor air quality. The forced stream of air over the doorway that leads into your business will also protect your business interior from flying insects, exhaust fumes and other odors from nearby streets, dust, pollution, and other air contaminants.
Some leading air curtain models also offer the ability to keep your customers and employees protected from strains of virus such as COVID-19. For example, the Mars UVC Sanitizing Air Curtain relies on ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which is a disinfection method that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet (ultraviolet C or UVC) light to kill or inactivate microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA.
With winter already upon us, now is the time to install an air curtain for your business!