Whole-House Solutions

June 5, 2001
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SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The consumer demand for mechanically ventilated homes is increasing. That’s hardly a revelation, but still a fact that drove the discussion on “Integrating and Controlling Rad-iant, Ventilation, Forced Air, and Cooling” at the RPA conference.

Robert Ferris of Nutech Energy Systems and Greg Leupine of Tekmar Controls led a discussion on providing whole-house comfort solutions and how contractors need to integrate radiant, cooling, ventilation, and forced-air heating systems.

Leupine said the whole idea of the seminar was to discuss how to integrate “different heating and cooling systems.” He asserted, “It’s best to sit down with trained professionals [from all trades] and plan an integrated system and to understand who is responsible for designing the system.”

Leupine added that it is imperative to have a “logic” between systems. For example, a cooling system would be the logical complement to a floor-warming system, because the heating system “cannot prevent overheating, it can only shut down.” In this case, a room with a lot of glass windows or thick carpeting may actually become too hot and would need some mechanism for cooling it down.

“We are trying to tie hydronics and air movement systems together,” Leupine added. “We have to ask questions like: which thermostat controls the whole system? Or, which thermostat do you trust?”

Ferris spoke about the increased demand for heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), which continually replace stale air with fresh outside air, alleviating IAQ problems caused by “air-tight” home construction.

“These are not code-driven products,” he maintained. “The HRV and ERV products are a $60 million market that is growing at an annual rate of 25 percent. HRVs and ERVs are useful in all climates.”

Ferris cited a product called the “Lifebreath Clean Air Furnace,” which combines hydronic heating with fresh-air ventilation. The furnace features an HRV and touts “energy efficiency without sacrificing healthy air.”

The underlying theme of this seminar and a similar one given by Joel Williams (see related story, page 18) is the importance of bringing the worlds of hydronics and forced air/ventilation closer together to achieve whole-house comfort. These speakers stressed the need to design systems that utilize the best of both technologies, with the bottom line being homeowner comfort and satisfaction.

Publication date: 06/11/2001

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