Fighting Temptation to Ignore Ductwork
March 21, 2011
PLANO, Texas - Steve Lauten, president of Total Air & Heat in the suburban Dallas area, seems to focus the company primarily on energy conservation measures such as home efficiency and energy conservation. But intertwined with the company’s systems-based approach is a belief that good IAQ must be part of the result.
The biggest issue combining IAQ and energy that the contractor sees regularly, not surprisingly, is significantly leaking duct systems - which, of course, the contractor is prepared to test, repair, and test again. In general, however, “There’s a high temptation to just sell the system and not repair the ductwork,” in order to make more money.
The other area is proper air filtration. Lauten, a Trane Comfort Specialist dealer, recommends that all customers need either a Trane PerfectFit or 4-5-inch media filter. “Not everyone has allergies,” said Lauten, “but they all need cleaner air.
“We try to appeal to everybody with maintenance,” he added. “And it starts with good filtration. We don’t have problems with clogged drain lines in homes with proper filtration.”
For commercial customers, good IAQ can provide increased productivity and decreased downtime. “CleanEffects has been proven to remove the flu virus,” Lauten said. “If we can talk to the people that own the facility, in owner occupied places, if nothing else, you get them to change their filters more often, or at all.”
CONSUMERS COMING AROUNDConsumers are becoming better educated about IAQ and systems in general, he said. “We’re pretty successful at getting customers to invest in a system with variable-speed air handling to run the air cleaner more constantly.
“If you spend a third of your life indoors, why not make sure it’s as comfortable as possible,” he added.
The company talks with its customers about IAC - Indoor Air Comfort. There are more requests for IAC, he said, because customers have become more sophisticated in their knowledge. They don’t want to settle for discomfort. Requests include humidification since recent winters have been colder, with lower ambient rh and the use of more forced-air heat; as well as dehumidification strategies.
They definitely have an increased awareness of energy consumption. “This year the area experienced a first,” said Lauten: “rolling brownouts due to cold weather.” Even though it was caused by a convergence of conditions - Lauten said that in addition to the high weather-related use of the utilities, they also had parts of their facilities closed for maintenance, so their systems were taxed - it has once again focused attention on energy consumption of the HVAC systems.
BACKGROUNDThe company, founded in 1957 by Fred Lauten, achieved 2010 revenues of $6.3 million, which his son Steve Lauten said is 90 percent residential, all service and retrofit; the remainder is light commercial. Today, Total Air & Heat employs 25 professionals and maintains a fleet of 15 vehicles.
The contractor has experience in geothermal as well as HVAC technology. It also provides energy services such as home thermal imaging, which the company’s website describes as being “a little like x-ray vision, or an MRI for your home. It allows you to see what is going on in the infrared spectrum. This makes it easy to find the places where there is heat loss or cooling loss due to inefficient equipment, ducting, or a lack of adequate insulation.” Its HomeEnalasys measures and analyzes a home’s heating and air conditioning system.
For more information, visit www.hardinet.org.
Publication date: 03/21/2011