ACHRNEWS

Products to Breathe Easier

February 25, 2008
Charlie Martin is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist and Indoor Air Quality Specialist, and he’s also the proud owner of a smart Hybrid Heat system (and a “hypoallergenic” dog).

When it comes to IAQ, Charlie Martin is an expert. As a Certified Indoor Environmentalist and Indoor Air Quality Specialist at Woodfin Heating in Mechanicsville, Va., he has spent the last 14 years educating customers about IAQ. He enjoys seeking the root causes of poor IAQ in a home, then offering a customized solution tailored for that specific home and problem.

Whether it’s allergies, asthma, pets, or other indoor irritants, Martin can figure out the exact IAQ products needed to make homeowners comfortable. As he explains to his customers, the right IAQ equipment can improve the health, comfort, safety, and overall happiness of everyone in the home. And smart controls can make the whole process even easier.

When customers opt to have their IAQ products operated by a smart controller, their temperature and humidity levels are adjusted automatically. Simple programming and large displays further help homeowners easily select the comfort level that best suits their activities. After years of talking to customers about IAQ, Martin became his own best customer when he recently installed a new heating and cooling system that is, of course, operated by a smart controller.



TO INFINITY (AND BEYOND)

“I love Carrier’s Infinity™ thermostat,” said Martin. “I liked it so much that I put it in my own home about 18 months ago when I also had the Hybrid Heat system installed. I think it’s one of the best controllers out there because you can control everything – humidification, dehumidification, heating, and cooling.”

One reason why Martin is so excited about the Infinity control is that it is easy to program, and it can humidify or dehumidify without drastically affecting the temperature in the space. Based on the homeowner’s input, the thermostat tells the system to come on and dehumidify rather than just cool. In this scenario, the system is only allowed to let the temperature drop 1 1/2° to 2°F before it turns off.

Conversely, the controller has the capability to turn on the blower in order to humidify the space, rather than only humidifying on a call for heat. Martin utilized his existing humidifier with his new Hybrid Heat system, and the Infinity thermostat keeps the humidity level in his home at his preset level of 42 percent rh.

Martin’s wife wasn’t quite so sure about installing the new systems, given their existing equipment wasn’t that old. “But I wanted a variable-speed, two-stage system. I wanted the Infinity. That’s what I sell. It makes the house, regardless of the season, feel so much more comfortable. With variable speed, you never really notice when the system is on or off. My wife likes it now, too. She’s a computer systems analyst, and she knows more about the thermostat than I do.”

Martin’s wife particularly liked the big display area that shows numbers that are easy to read. This is especially important for older people, said Martin, who often tell him they like the large, easy-to-read panel. The thermostat is also menu-driven, which makes it easy to program.

In addition to automatically adjusting the temperature and humidity levels, the Infinity thermostat checks duct pressure once a day. “Using the blower, it checks the static pressure and lets the home-owner know if the filter is dirty. Based on pressure, it knows when it’s getting harder to get air through the filter and notifies the homeowner that a new filter is needed.”

The thermostat also displays fault codes and lets homeowners know if they need to call the installing contractor. Once the homeowner relays the fault code to the dispatcher, it makes it easier for the technician to know what type of problem exists with the system before even arriving at the house.



A HONEY OF A CONTROLLER

For those customers who don’t have an Infinity heating and/or cooling system, Martin suggests they install a Honeywell VisionPro® IAQ Total Home Comfort System. This system can control comfort and IAQ throughout the home by managing the temperature, humidification, dehumidification, and ventilation from an easy-to-use touchscreen control.

“The VisionPro is a really nice thermostat,” said Martin. “Honeywell’s done an excellent job with it. It’s user-friendly and has a big display, and our customers like those features. Just like the Infinity control, the Honeywell thermostat can also automatically raise or lower the humidity levels throughout the house.”

Martin suggests an upgraded, smart thermostat every time he calls on a customer. Whether the homeowner is installing an entirely new heating and cooling system or is just interested in whole-house humidification, Martin explains that the better thermostat can make the home much more comfortable, and a separate humidistat won’t be necessary if a smart controller is installed.

“Customers often don’t know to ask about better thermostats,” said Martin. “They might ask if they can get a digital thermostat, and then I’ll talk about the automatic setbacks, automatic humidification or dehumidification, and other features that are available with an improved controller. Once I figure out their needs, then I can start talking about how those needs can match up with a better thermostat.”

Both the Honeywell and Infinity thermostats have the ability to automatically contact the contractor if there is a problem with the system, but Martin hasn’t seen a demand in his area for this feature yet. He thinks this is a great idea for those customers who have a summer home and a winter home; that way, if there’s a problem in the residence that isn’t currently being occupied, the installing contractor could be notified immediately if there were a problem.

The feedback for the smart thermostats from both customers and the installation department has been positive, said Martin. “Our customers like that the thermostats are simple to program and easy to read, and our installation department is happy that there haven’t been any complaints about them. It’s been a smooth process, and the feedback has been great.”

Publication Date: 02/25/2008