Technical Papers

Why HVAC, Home Performance and Renewable Energies are like Peas and Carrots

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Hal Smith

I don’t think many can argue the fact that peas and carrots compliment each other.  The same can be said for the three different industries of HVAC, Home Performance, and Renewable Energies.  My company, Halco, offers all three. 

I would like to tell you about a job we recently sold.  The customer had a 150-year-old farm house close to Syracuse, NY that they are heating with fuel oil.  The call originally came in because the customer wanted to switch from fuel oil to propane and wanted to add air conditioning to the system.  They had a relative that had a place on the Jersey Shore that recently experienced a major fuel oil leak that ended up costing over a million dollars to clean up.  With that said they did not want to heat with fuel oil any longer!  We were able to suggest an energy audit as part of their heating and cooling estimate.  The energy audit revealed a very leaky 150-year-old farm house that was in bad need of tightening up--pretty typical results.

The customer had a small, six stall horse farm with an indoor riding arena.  The riding arena roof had a very large southern exposure.  It was perfect.  The gears started to turn!  We have done a lot of retrofit net zero projects.  This one had all the right ingredients plus an added bonus.  Both the husband and wife owned Chevy Volts that they were plugging into their standard grid-fed power.

We could have just proposed a propane furnace and air conditioner for approximately $10,000.00 which is exactly what the estimate lead sheet called for.  But because Halco works very hard at cross-training our Energy Advisors, we were able to show the customer a $160,000.00 system that made a lot more sense for three reasons: overall comfort, economic return on investment, and huge benefit to the environment.  The actual net cost of the $160,000.00 system after Federal and State Tax Credits and incentives was $80,000.  We were able to show these customers that this investment was a much better use of their retirement account than the current interest that it was earning.  It was a no-brainer.

We will be tightening up the 150-year-old farm house with a combination of expandable closed cell spray foam and AirKrete, which is non-expanding injection type fireproof foam with a rating of R-6/inch.  Between those two products we can turn a very leaky old farm house into a very tight comfortable non-drafty home.

Next, we will install a Direct Exchange Earthlinked Horizontal Geothermal Heating/Cooling/Hotwater system to serve the home.  We will be adding an exposed spiral duct system to the second floor to properly serve the air-conditioning need.  The exposed spiral will blend very nicely with the existing tin pan ceilings. 

Lastly, we will be installing a 40 kW Solar PV System on the riding arena roof.  This will provide enough power to cover the baseload of the home, power the geothermal heating, cooling, and hot water system, as well as provide all necessary power needed to the horse farm and the two vehicle charging stations.

These customers will end up with no utility bill ever again and never have to buy fuel to get back and forth to work.  This is very cool stuff!

Again I want to stress that we could have just went after the heating and cooling job and probably would have been undercut in price.

A job like this doesn’t come along everyday but they are certainly out there when you take the blinders off.  The cool thing is when you do the math this job makes all the sense in the world!  This customer will be so much more comfortable in this very tight home with Geothermal than they would be in a very loose drafty home heated by a propane furnace.

Halco currently has 10 – insulation foam rigs, 6 - HVAC install crews, 2 – Geothermal install crews, and 2 – Solar PV Installing crews as part of their Home Performance/Renewable Energy Departments.  Our team of 20 Energy Advisors is all cross-trained to do energy audits/estimate HVAC and renewable energies.

Each of them all have their areas which they excel in, but have enough knowledge to talk intelligently and be able to ask the right questions in areas of less strength.  They have ability to bring in another team member or manger for help when needed.

By keeping the blinders off and our eyes wide open, Halco continues to grow at a good pace.

When you expand your mind and your skill sets, you put yourself in a place where it is not about how cheap can you be or XYZ company is less than you!  It simply becomes a different type of challenge of showing the customer the difference in comfort for their home and the economic return on investment.  All of this while helping our environment and future generations to come.  Everyone wins!

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