It is becoming more evident than ever that technology is increasing and developing. Whether it be the electronic industry, automobile industry, or the utility industry for examples – advancements are always being made. This is true so much so that there always seems to be some sort of update, upgrade, or reconstruction that is suggested we download or apply in order to improve some aspect of the overall entity. This is essentially what retrofitting is. Though not necessarily appropriate when referring to things such as software or downloadable updates – retrofitting is ultimately this same concept in a more physical way.
The definition of retrofitting is more similar to that of refurbishing or renovating. Refurbishment is geared towards enhancing the overall quality of a product and usually includes improvements to different amenities within a space. Renovations are almost always used in reference to cosmetic or structural upgrades to a building or property. Retrofitting falls somewhere in the middle.
To retrofit is to add a component or addition to something and because of the size, cost, and permanency of most building systems (water, electric, and gas), a retrofit serves as the best option for building owners to keep up with the different technological advances within the utility industry. Advantages of retrofits can be plentiful as they provide older buildings with the ability to be as up-to-date and modern as those that are brand new in the least costly way possible. A good example of this is the process of retrofitting a business or home’s lighting system.
Instead of replacing entire lighting fixtures, many consumers find replacing their current bulbs with ones that are LED is easier and more efficient regarding laboring costs and time. Some states even offer programs to offset expenditures used for energy efficiency. Research done by Energy Star, the government’s certification program for high-efficiency products, has shown that every dollar spent on energy efficiency within a property has the ability to increase its value by three times. It is in this way that retrofitting serves as the best way to increase return on investment (ROI) with regards to energy efficiency. Improving properties is also getting even easier with the increase in companies producing retrofitting products. Products such as Roost,Switchmate, and Ambi Climate are all newly launched retrofit gadgets that allow one to utilize their smartphone in order to control smoke detectors, lights, and AC/heating units!
Retrofitting products come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as easy as personally buying and installing low-flow showerheads or as complicated as bringing in an auditor and contractor to assess the situation. As these solutions get more complicated, retrofit kits are even available for purchase by consumers. Utility Relay Company for example offers retrofit kits for outdated and less efficient circuit breakers
Though retrofitting is ideal, it is not always the most feasible or practical. Some items to consider when looking to apply retrofits are location, maintenance, impervious or pervious areas, and the social environment in the area. These should be especially considered within more metropolitan areas. A more in depth look at the challenges regarding retrofitting can be found here and details regarding a larger and broader retrofitting process can be found here.