Contractor Is a Ventilation Control Freak
September 28, 2009
When you talk about air distribution with Tom Godby, it’s all about zoning. “It’s something that gives you the opportunity to do some redesign in houses,” said the founder and chairman of Godby Heating and Air Conditioning, Indianapolis. “We did a rather large home that had seven systems in it, and through zoning, we reduced it down to five.” Through the zoning and improved efficiency, they reduced their gas bills so much that the local gas company came out to do an inspection; “they swore they were stealing gas!”
Godby calls zoning “a natural step to take for a contractor. In certain environments, zoning and control of humidity and temperature has a way of remediating off gassing of certain products, and remediating mold and mildew.” In today’s bacteria-conscious world, he said, “those are all good marketing tools. Typically, mold and bacteria won’t grow in less than 45 percent rh. With zoning you can start modulating the humidity along with the temperature.”
He pointed out that Carrier’s Infinity system has the capability to change the sensible latent split of the unit for more moisture removal. “It’s not just lowering the temperature. The humidistat will bring on the a/c for moisture removal; it changes indoor blower speed for more moisture removal.”
The contractor also has been using Honeywell’s D150 for ventilation and dehumidifying air before it’s brought into the space. “We’re positively ventilating and outgassing, rather than ingassing,” he said, and creating positive pressure.
“In the HVAC industry, being a control freak is a good thing.”
Variable-speed equipment really lends itself to zoning and more finite IAQ control, he said. And as its benefits become more widely recognized, it could be a mandated construction technique in certain regions. “With dehumidifying the house, zone control, and positive pressurization, you get control,” Godby said.
Regarding comfort, he said, his company hears a lot more comments like, “I can’t believe the difference.” In short, they become outspoken fans of their HVAC system. “When I go with these systems, I get people calling me,” Godby said. “We tell them that we’re dehumidifying their home better and they’re more comfortable with a higher humidity level.
“We have a customer base that is evangelistic,” he said. “I heard ladies at a cocktail party talking about their new air conditioning systems.”
Payback is always a serious consideration, and “in today’s world it’s a different animal because of tax incentives,” said Godby. “From an energy efficiency point it’s ludicrous not to sell the high end.” Manufacturer, utility, and government credits make this a sweet option at this time. But “how do you put a dollar value on comfort,” he asked. “It’s the comfort level and it’s a health level.”
In addition to providing zoning, the contractor performs blower door testing, duct sealing and cleaning, and duct design. “When you get into zoning, you’re really mandated to get into the duct system,” Godby said. “You’re taking the system and splitting it up.” The control system works through the thermostat and allows the zoning system (dampers) to do its thing. Sun loading and occupational loading can be addressed, and living areas can be maintained at different temperatures for different needs. “In my home, my wife likes to keep the bedroom a little cooler.”
The contractor’s business is 30 percent residential and 70 percent commercial (light commercial and multifamily [student housing and apartments]). Its volume this year is at about $20 million, Godby said. “We provide plumbing-heating-electrical-cooling, and we are a Carrier factory-authorized dealer; 80 percent of our people are NATE certified.”
The contractor follows ACCA’s QI specs and is working on LEED certification. “It’s where we’re going. We’re all going to be there someday.”
For more information, visit www.gottabegodby.com.
Sidebar: Ventilation TrendsAccording to Nitish Singh, manager of system products for Carrier, “One of the major trends favorably impacting the ventilation industry is improved air tightness with new home construction. This is driven by a greater awareness than before to reduce energy usage.” Tighter homes, he said, will drive a greater need for adequate ventilation necessary to maintain good IAQ.
“There is also an increasing trend for formalized standards for adequate ventilation, such as ASHRAE 62.2, which prescribes minimum ventilation requirements in a dwelling,” he said. Numerous regions are adopting ventilation standards such as ASHRAE 62.2, either locally or state-wide.” He expects the trend to grow over time. As a result, it is also expected to drive greater demand for ventilation related products.
What’s the impact of big trends like the economy? Perhaps not as much as you might think. In regions where local codes require some minimum ventilation standards, he said, “larger macro trends like the state of the economy will have lesser impact on sales of ventilation products. However, the same cannot be said of other regions where ventilation products may be viewed as a ‘nice-to-have’ product, versus a necessary, mandated product.”
Contractors can take advantage of these trends, he said, by making sure they understand them. “Educate consumers on the benefits of improved ventilation, and use it as an opportunity to drive incremental sales while offering homeowners a cleaner indoor air quality environment.”
Publication date: 09/28/2009