AIR-CONDITIONER INSTALLATION PERFORMANCE TESTING
â€śITâ€™S TIME TO PUT UP OR SHUT UPâ€ť
What I mean by performance testing is capacity verification of a residential air-conditioner when it is installed. To calculate and independently certify the B.T.U. per watt that a particular system is delivering after installation at a given address, under a given testing condition, relative to itâ€™s A.H.R.I. performance ratings. â€śThatâ€™s all I am talking about, but easier said than done so letâ€™s break it downâ€ť.
Number one, we are talking about the art of retrofit, where the challenges are larger and so different than new construction. In the H.V.A.C. industry we struggle to grasp the issues that affect the efficiencies of our systems in the area of new construction, where we have some control. In retrofit we just stick our head in the sand and wonder how you could be responsible for the efficiencies of systems, with existing concealed, undersized, poorly designed duct systems, off brand equipment, with no specifications, that we must continue to use, and numerous problems with testing and verification.
You must then ask yourself why? What is the reason for all the fuss what are we trying to gain? The answer is in the big picture of waste, not individual dollars to be saved. For every air conditioner that is tested at installation to be underperforming the percentage of kilowatts saved in the first year of operation could be as much as 50% of its expected operating cost, and still only save the customer $120.00 here in Colorado. Spread over three months maybe not so noticeable. But if testing and the good installation practices that must follow testing, result in only seven less underperforming installations per year for a given contractor like myself, at 1000 kwh each, the 7000 kilowatt savings per year repeats its self every year with equipment that will predictably continue to perform the way it was installed. In 15 years one contractor could waste 840,000 kwh by not bothering to test the performance of the units he installs. That is over $75,000 of his customersâ€™ money and its only seven systems a year. A conservative estimate if you believe as I do that a system installed well will perform for many years at that level, and one installed poorly will also follow that same course.
I do realize that some of these numbers are unsubstantiated such as the 50% savings a year or the 1000 kWh per system calculated. But I will tell you that we do have a three year history showing that even with good testing and the best of practices â€śreferring to Greeley Furnace, the failure rate is 6.5% saved by testing or seven systems per one hundred installed. I believe this high performance installation percentage is at least twice as high as my competition, â€śor those not testingâ€ť and is substantiated. As a matter of fact there are many studies that estimate as many as 35 % of the systems currently installed are underperforming systems. Therefore if the calculation of savings per system is high you could use only half that number because if the number of systems saved is doubled per contractor times even 500 kWh the result is the same. And by the way there are approximately seventy five contractors licensed to install air conditioners in the Greeley city alone. So if you start doing the math I think you will agree we have something to gain, there is a need.
Number two, what is independent certification of that performance. There is a lot of discussion about this and the different methods being used. I believe that most are direct comparisons of the A.H.R.I. performance data for given systems as it applies to the testing condition you are under the day you install the unit as opposed to the direct calculation of B.T.U. capacity output of a given system by the use of tested airflow and enthalpy temperature drop. Either way the result is to assure a rated B.T.U. removal per watt. And that the testing and performance can be verified independently of the people, company, installer, or interested parties. Wow now thatâ€™s a mouth full.
Letâ€™s talk about the issues like the guy selling you an air-conditioner. He, like myself is probably a salesman or an owner but not the installer of the unit, and he will be told buy someone that the unit checked out ok and someone may record the readings of pressures and superheat that the installer claimed he achieved after installation. I know how this works after all we all used the manufacturers recommended charging methods for years and realize how far off you can be, but that is not the point. We as business owners and salesmen do not see the pressures and temperatures being recorded, just a couple of numbers written on a paper by someone whose qualifications, and integrity are not only the point of discussion, but in most cases there are many of these people in our companies, and our history, and they have different methods, tools, and levels of training during the time they work for us. So we can only attest to what they do second hand â€śwhat we are told happenedâ€ť.
Letâ€™s face it, a unit can be perfectly charged and for many reasons never achieve even close to its rated performance. Even if you have your people do a calculation of the capacity of the unit using the correct formula of air flow and enthalpy temperature drop, you still must believe and then ask your customers, the utility company, and all interested parties to believe with you, that the numbers and calculations you have recorded regarding the performance of a particular system are factual, when you donâ€™t know yourself, you did not take the readings, and like the many issues that can cause a system to under perform there are as many reasons why those second hand performance calculations may be flawed, and I am not only referring to issues of integrity or incompetents.
For so many years these calculations have not been taken and recorded due to the difficulty in accurately testing such things as airflow in cubic feet per minute or different wet bulb temperatures depending where you take the readings, or just what correction factors to use for altitude, these challenges coupled with human error, very little manufacturer involvement, technical knowledge or support, and the lack of technology in the testing equipment itâ€™s self, have all posed challenges.
We could talk all day long about what has stopped us, and why. Although if you see the clear and unmistakable need, the real and daunting challenge, and if you are Greeley Furnace you accept the demands of the future. You will attempt to solve that big problem of who said, he said, she said that system is, or is not performing and are they independent, are they technically qualified, are the testing results A.H.R.I. certifiable. The answer is yes the F.D.S.I. tool is the best technology we have to date to answer the needs of the industry. Although not perfect and we could make a list of issues, this tool will independently certify the performance, or lack thereof of a system. You canâ€™t manipulate the results, and the results correlate to the A.H.R.I. ratings. The reports are professional and for the most part the tool is manageable, accurate, and cost effective. Lets face it when it comes to a verification process from testing authority like a utility company or a building inspection division sending an individual out to test a system to verify its performance, no matter who they hire, and what his or her credentials are, what readings they record, they better have an F.D.S.I. tool or equivalent if their findings are not good, or what might happen is they may discredit themselves. Lets face it this tool with itâ€™s certified recorded performance data can protect me from my employees, consumers from bad installations and contractors, utility companies from not getting there kilowatt reduction, me from an incompetent verifier from a testing agency, and these are just the uses in new installation of retrofit units.
I welcome the next generation of tools that include airflow testing calculations of capacity, and more innovations of dependability but I donâ€™t want to listen to those who say we donâ€™t need to worry about capacity or performance testing, or its to hard to do. Just check out Greeley furnace .com we already did it three years ago, and we made it work. So sooner or later you will need to put up or shut up because itâ€™s coming at you like it or not, and your customers deserve to know that they are getting what they paid for.
We at Greeley Furnace Co. have been trying to prepare and advise our customers of the upcoming changes to the Efficiency Standards as directed by the Department of Energy and still believe that we will provide the highest quality equipment that is suited for each of our customers.
Please read the link below,
HOW IMPORTANT IS HVAC MAINTENACE OF A COMMERCIAL BUILDING?
From a business ownerâ€™s perspective, there are a number of great reasons to have your commercial HVACÂ system regularly and professionally inspected and serviced. First and most importantly, properly maintaining your
HVAC system will help ensure the safety and comfort of your buildingâ€™s inhabitants. A well-maintained HVACÂ system helps to maintain optimal indoor air quality and consistent, comfortable temperatures, translating to healthy,
productive employees. Proper HVAC system maintenance will also help keep your utilities costs down by ensuringÂ maximum efficiency and will also help you avoid expensive repairs and replacements.
Like the systems themselves, maintenance requirements for commercial HVAC systems are quite a bitÂ different than for residential systems. Furthermore, maintenance requirements for commercial systems will vary
greatly based on what takes place in a particular facility. An office environment, for example, will have vastlyÂ different maintenance needs than a manufacturing facility. Because the amount of dust in the air will be much greaterÂ in certain types of facilities, the filters must be changed much more frequently.
As a basis for comparison, most of our residential contracts involve changing the filters once or twice per year,Â with the understanding that the homeowners will change the filters monthly. In a commercial setting, we normallyÂ replace the filters at least four times a year; and facilities in which chemicals are used or where significant amounts of
dust are present will require much more frequent filter changes.Â Itâ€™s also important to routinely check the heat exchanger in a commercial HVAC system. If the unit is outside
(as is common with commercial systems), it is much more likely to crack. A cracked heat exchanger will reduce theÂ systemâ€™s efficiency and effectiveness. While a small crack may have only a small impact, the problem can quickly
grow in severity. As the crack widens, the effects become more and more pronounced. By having your systemÂ inspected regularly, you can ensure that a cracked heatÂ ex-changerÂ will not go unnoticed and that appropriateÂ corrective action will be taken before the problem becomes serious.
Because commercial facilities are generally more airtight than residential spaces, it is important to be sure thatÂ an adequate amount of fresh air is entering the space. Adequate fresh air is particularly important when outdoorÂ temperatures are comfortable. Because commercial systems are much more expensive to run than residential systemsÂ (and generally used much more intensely), itâ€™s essential to cut costs wherever possible. On a nice day, if air from theÂ outdoors is flowing freely, the system wonâ€™t need to work so hard.
In order to make sure that enough air is flowing into the space from outdoors, your HVAC contractor willÂ need to thoroughly check and clean the dampers. Improperly functioning dampers can contribute to poor indoor air
quality as well as increase the systemâ€™s energy consumption. Once the dampers have been thoroughly inspected, eachÂ moving part should be cleaned and lubricated to ensure optimal performance.
FIRST LETS START WITH THE TOP FIVE MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN BUYING A FURNACE OR AIRCONDITIONER IN WELD COUNTY.
1) Buying from a department store like Sears or Home Depot. â€śThey know nothing, do nothing; licensed contractors must still do the work so if you want a Trane or Rheem furnace go straight to the dealer and save the store mark-up.
2) Believing that you can buy a furnace and get the air conditioner for free, or an overstock sale so you get a half price deal on a certain size. There is an out of town national franchise company using this type of lost leader advertising. â€śAs you might expect it seems too good to be true, well it just is not trueâ€ť.
3) Buying an air conditioner from a contractor who claims that the unit he is selling is 13 S.E.E.R efficiency, just because it is stated on a piece of literature he handed you. â€śDonâ€™t be naĂŻve, this is no more than buying a pig in a pokeâ€ť, you are allowing yourself to be taken.
4) Buying an extended warranty for parts and labor coverage on your furnace and air conditioner from a company that sells coverage without maintenance. With claims to have equipment replacement included, you should check the fine print you are being taken.
5) Paying for clean and safety check because of the low price only to find out, you will not get a qualified service technician to clean and care for your equipment, but instead a salesperson who will spend most of his time showing you pricing of new systems, and explaining why you need to buy them.
These are just a few tips and we wonâ€™t go into detail on all of them, but just to pick one, the buy one get one free offers have done very well in Greeley lately. So letâ€™s address that one in particular. We have studied the permit logs for the city of Greeley, and we found out some interesting facts. Number one this company is not from Weld county and is a national franchise company, number two they do pull permits here so we know how many jobs they are doing, number three the average cost of a job we did in the last quarter of 2012 was $4049.00 their average job cost was $4289.00, and we did not give away any furnaces or air conditioners during that time. We also know by our records that the homeowners that purchased these jobs from lets say company B did not get a completive bid from Greeley Furnace or maybe anyone else. This is a concern to us, although we know we cant do all the work in Weld county we like to think that we get a chance at most of it, and when the buyer has a chance to compare Greeley Furnace will often get the job, due to many advantages such as the fact that if they would have made their purchase from Greeley Furnace we would take care of all repair cost parts and labor for twenty years at no cost to them as part of our platinum card program. And the truth is they are not local, they are not cheaper and they certainly are not as good as Greeley Furnace. So as a lesson to be learned no matter how good the advertisement or the sales pitch get a second opinion or bid, not so much for a lower price but to know that you are getting the whole story. The more you check the better we look.
Energy Outreach Colorado and Greeley Furnace
Greeley Furnace Co. LLc. has partnered with ATMOS Energy and Energy Outreach Colorado to help upgrade and install new high efficiency furnaces in the Island Grove Apartment complex. This project will help save and improve the energy consumption in this community and therefore saving them energy and money. In the process, we also have used our FDSI tool to check the performance on their air conditioning units to fine tune them. Optimizing the A/C units performance and having them work at their peak performance. In our analysis, we have found that the majority of the units checked so far, as being either over or under charged affecting the overall energy consumption on these units. A further savings that we and ATMOS energy will be able to track.
Please check out the Â article below and read how Energy Outreach Colorado is serving the community.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Contact Information: Â Peggy Hofstra
Energy Outreach Colorado
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â PHofstra@EnergyOutreach.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 1, 2012Â Â
Greeley â€“ Limited-income families living in a 40-year-old Greeley housing community are saving energy through a $108,700 project to install new energy-efficient furnaces in 36 apartments, funded by Atmos Energy and Energy Outreach Colorado.
The efficiency upgrades at Island Grove Village Apartments also include service and repair to air conditioning systems and setting up programmable thermostats in the apartments.Â Plans are to extend the improvements to the affordable housing complexâ€™ remaining 72 units in 2013.
Island Grove Village, a U.S. Housing and Urban Development property, was established in 1972 by a nonprofit entity of Trinity Episcopal Church of Greeley.Â The 10-building complex is managed by Richard Maxfield of Maxfield Services Corp.Â Its nearly 350 multi-cultural residents, including families with children, disabled individuals and seniors, benefit from affordable rent and family assistance services such as onsite Head Start and youth enrichment programs and a free computer learning center that has helped more than 200 residents earn their GED.
Cost savings are projected at around $23,500 a year, which can be used for other important needs of the community such as grounds improvements, a new sprinkler system and a security system, said Craig Allen, site manager.
â€śOur residents also are more comfortable and safe with the new equipment,â€ť he said.Â â€śItâ€™s quieter, and theyâ€™re benefiting from new safety technology.â€ť
Energy Outreach Colorado, a nonprofit that raises funds for energy assistance and energy efficiency programs for limited-income families and seniors, contracted with Greeley Furnace to install the upgrades.
â€śMaxfield Services has been really responsible in how theyâ€™ve managed this invested this property,â€ť said Luke Ilderton, energy efficiency program director at Energy Outreach.Â â€śSince the early 1990s, theyâ€™ve completed a lot of other upgrades such as installing new siding, energy-efficient windows and exterior lighting, and low-flow plumbing fixtures and water-conservation appliances and procedures.â€ť
Island Grove Village is a past recipient of numerous local, state, national and housing industry awards, including the City of Greeleyâ€™s Environmental Stewardship Award and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Award.
About Energy Outreach Colorado
Energy Outreach Colorado is the only independent, non-profit organization in the state that raises money to help limited income Coloradans afford home energy.Â Since 1989, EOChas raised more than $165 million to fund energy bill payment assistance, energy efficiency upgrades for affordable housing and nonprofit facilities, and energy education.Â Energy Outreach Colorado relies on private donations, corporate contributions and foundation grants.Â It has received top ratings from Charity Navigator for nine consecutive years and is an accredited charity member of the Better Business Bureau.Â Energy Outreach Colorado, www.EnergyOutreach.org, can be reached at 303-825-8750 or at 225 E. 16th Ave. Ste. 200, Denver, COÂ 80203-1612.
It is time again to get your furnace cleaned, and checked for safety. And for your money you should buy some peace of mind.
But like most things now days all is not what it seems, and you need to be careful about whom you give your money to. Use a little common sense and donâ€™t let the charlatans make a fool out of you.
First you must realize that a proper clean and safety check includes not only cleaning the unit on the surface but removing the burners and blower to inspect and clean the inside of the furnace. Then a list of checks that should be done with calibrated testing equipment and recorded by a qualified technician with enough time to complete the process, and leave you a copy of the results. A copy of a proper heating check list is attached to this article and if you notice it includes carbon monoxide levels, and high limit shut off temperature. And they are two very important safety items on the check list. The recorded items on this list are designed to completely go through an already clean furnace and record its operating condition, good or bad and certify its safety or not if the furnace needs to be replaced.
This is where a little common sense comes in, how much to pay for a clean and check, and who to hire? Because there is a coupon in every publication and some direct mail companies bait two or three heating companies into doing the â€śold gas warâ€ť. Remember that, back in the 1960â€™s when two gas stations across the street from each other would lower their price each day to beat the otherâ€™s price until one or the other went out of business. You understand the idea is not to do a proper job of servicing your furnace, it is to take your money, and advantage of you in any way they can. If you realize that most professionals are charging $150.00 to $200.00 per hour for their time and that any service company that is planning to stay in business for very long better charge $100.00 per hour for their qualified technicians, not to mention the cost of gas and upkeep on stocked service vehicles you donâ€™t need a calculator to come up with a price if you want good service on your furnace. it may seem way to good to be true when you see a coupon or a price of $45.00 to $75.00 for a clean and safety check, well as they say â€śit probably is too good to be true.â€ť because a proper check takes from one to two hours depending on access and condition of the furnace, and you donâ€™t get that for $45.00.
Letâ€™s consider some scenarios that $45.00 might buy you;
Scenario 1) the company sends minimum wage person with no tools or qualifications to vacuumed the burners out, this is very common to see a lack of qualified people doing the work, you may be surprised to find that the companies are not even licensed to do heating work in the communities they advertise in.
Scenario 2) the company sends a salesman with a filter and a C.O. meter, they change the filter take a carbon monoxide reading, and proceed to attempt to sell you a new furnace.
Scenario 3) the company sends a technician who does the safety checks and the carbon monoxide readings to protect your safety, but is in and out in 10 to 15 minutes no cleaning to improve efficiency or extend the life of the furnace.
scenario 4) you hear about a guy who does clean and checks on the side and he seems to do a great job of cleaning but no check list and the meters and test equipment he uses are old and you donâ€™t know if they have been calibrated or if you can trust their accuracy after all there is no documentation from an unlicensed contractor.
Way back in the beginning I said that your money should buy you some peace of mind, if you make an appointment with a licensed contractor and you get an hour to an hour and a half of service, from a qualified heating technician, who will clean your furnace inside and out, fill out a responsible heating check list, including recording the necessary safety readings with adequate calibrated testing meters, leave you a copy of those test results, and any recommendations he or she might have. You will then have that peace of mind and know what you paid for. And I ask you would you rather pay $100.00 for that service and peace of mind or $45.00 for basically nothing but feeling foolish.
To understand the solution to the problem one must understand the problem, and that is capacity. You see, those of us in the business know that an air conditioner, when itâ€™s operating, Â has a rated amp draw and corresponding kilowatt usage. This amount is dependent on the size and efficiency of the unit but that is not important to this discussion. What is important is the kilowatt usage â€śthat you pay forâ€ť, or all intense purposes, â€śdoes not change,â€ť even though the capacity can be reduced to zero. Thatâ€™s right your air conditioner could be removing no heat, running all day, and still drawing the same electricity it would if it were removing its full capacity. No lie, no exaggeration. And that lack of capacity can exist from the day itâ€™s installed. As a matter of fact, it WILL exist by probability if the capacity is not checked. â€śThere is a better way!â€ť
Letâ€™s go back to the great misconception that if you buy a 13 or 14 S.E.E.R. Â air conditioner thatâ€™s what you get. This is so untrue, and we canâ€™t go into the massive reasons why you should be so careful in choosing a competent contractor. Because this is not like buying a refrigerator that you plug in and it works like it should. This is a trade made up of the very competent and the very incompetent and unfortunately you need to find the right contractor or you will find out about the great misconception the hard way. But again, to help you to understand why the capacity problem is so prevalent â€śestimates show as many as 65% of the existing units installed are lacking capacityâ€ť we can look at the major issues that cause the problem and they are airflow, refrigerant charge, sizing, and ductwork leakage. Without in-depth discussion of each suffice it to say that oversized units, undersized ductwork, and altitude are all causes of a lack of airflow in Colorado and air flow is a major factor to obtaining capacity, and that is just one issue. We know what issues cause the problem and some contractors have the tools, knowledge, and concern to check the capacity of a unit after itâ€™s installed to prove its capacity and insure its efficiency into the future and certify that performance. â€śthere is a better way and you should demand itâ€ť because even 15 % loss of capacity would result in 30 % more run time, 30% more operating cost, and the unit would not keep you cool on a hot summer day. Thatâ€™s a lot to pay for just blindly believing in the old process and a contractors competence, the new way is to check the capacity of your air conditioner to be sure you are getting the efficiency that you paid for.
1. It is required by manufactures that you pay for $1200.00 worth of yearly maintenance during the expected life of the equipment just to keep from VOIDING WARRANTIES.
2. The new design of furnaces is such that without maintenance FAILURE IS PREDICTABLE WITHIN 5 YEARS.
3. It is logical that a furnace is more likely to fail at night because it must work harder when its colder. (Average emergency service call is over $200.00)
ISN’T SERVICE REALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE WHEN BUYING A FURNACE?