West / Regional Reports

Drilling For Air Conditioning

Four generations of the Rusher family.
TORRANCE, Calif. - George Rusher has always been known as a pioneer. In the days of his youth, he helped his small Montana high school football team win their first state championship. In 1935, he rode his 1929 Harley Davidson motorcycle from Montana to Southern California. As of the present day, he has owned and operated his own heating and air conditioning business for over 57 years. Rusher continues his pioneering spirit by becoming one of the first to use an advanced technology to cool and heat local homes. His company, Rusher Air Conditioning, has recently begun designing and installing geothermal heating and air conditioning systems in South Bay homes.

"Geothermal is the latest and most advanced technology in the heating and air conditioning industry," said Wayne Lund, sales manager for Rusher Air. "By using the ground we can cool and heat a home very efficiently. And the best thing about it is that there is no visible outdoor equipment. Everything is buried underground."

At 89, George Rusher, his son David, and grandson Scott own and operate the family business where innovation and new technology has been their hallmark. "Rusher Air Conditioning has long been known as an innovator in the heating and air conditioning industry," said Jon De Cuir, a local mechanical engineer. "George began specializing in hydronic radiant heating systems in the 1940s and 50s and now the company is well known as an expert source for this type of heating system that is still being installed today."

Later, in the 1970s, David joined the business and expanded the commercial market as well as implemented state-of-the-art computer technology tied into HVAC systems. Scott came along in the 1990s and expanded the service department, as well as interfaced the latest computer technology to air conditioning systems and all other facets of the business. Now, with the latest technologies, a computer can keep customers comfortable all year round by sensing and knowing their every need. A system can notify the customer when there is a problem, take corrective action on its own, and even call a service technician.

"Geothermal is the next step," according to Lund. "In a normal home air conditioning system, the house is cooled by removing indoor heat through refrigerant lines to outdoor equipment. The outdoor equipment rejects the heat to the outdoor air. In Geoexchange, the heat is carried out of the home by water in underground tubes. The water in the tubes gives up its heat to the surrounding earth. The result is a quiet, efficient, and extremely environmentally friendly system that can save owners up to 20 percent on their energy bill."

Another benefit of geothermal technology is the heating and cooling system can be used to meet the user's domestic hot water needs. The geothermal equipment can be temporarily redirected to produce hot water for a home. The hot water is stored in a large storage tank ensuring there is always hot water for everyone in the home.

Currently Rusher Air Conditioning is installing this technology in two state-of-the-art local South Bay homes. Both homes are located in environmentally sensitive areas where outdoor noise and vent emissions are of major concern. Since geothermal systems have no outdoor equipment exposed to the elements, they are especially advantageous in these types of areas. Further, the owners benefit from having all of the equipment indoors and not subject to the local ocean air. Ocean air tends to corrode air conditioning equipment in a short period of time to the point where it may lose up to 50 percent of its life cycle due to the environment.

Although geothermal systems can be costly to install, recent studies show the payback periods are encouraging, especially for large developments such as schools. As time goes on, the installation costs of geothermal systems will become more competitive with traditional systems, while their environmentally friendly characteristics will only improve.

And what's next for George Rusher? Time will only tell. One thing is for sure: he will most likely be the first to do it.

For more information on Rusher Air Conditioning, visit www.rusherair.com.

Publication date: 02/16/2004

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