SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Champion AC, a veteran-owned and operated HVAC contracting company, recently added solar air conditioners to its list of product offerings. This emphasizes the company’s focus on energy efficiency and green solutions.

Solar air conditioning units provide up to approximately 91 percent of the annual operation cost savings, pointed out company president and co-owner Ben Hubbert. Summer utility bills were expected to increase 15-30 percent this summer in the area; the company is adding Lennox’ SunSource solar air conditioning systems to its offerings.

The company decided to go in this direction for one main reason, said Hubbert: to help save customers money on their energy expenses. The timing is critical for the sake of making the installation more affordable, he said.

The systems use solar modules to collect the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that can be used to power the air conditioners and other parts of the home. Excess energy is returned to the utility company, where it can offset part of the customer’s utility bill thanks to a tracking system. The systems have the ability to monitor performance, measure savings, and provide various other environmental benefits, said the manufacturer.

According to Hubbert, the amount of energy a solar customer generates depends on how many solar panels they have installed. It is possible for them to harvest most all the energy they need if several are installed, he said. However, space or economic constraints could limit a customer to installing just a few panels — it would still offset some of the electric load, but not as much as more panels would. But the flexibility is there for customers who want to do the right thing, but can’t make a large upfront investment.

With up to 56 percent of a typical U.S. home’s energy bill resulting from heating and cooling, Hubbert said the company’s commitment to the use of solar energy has been a top priority. A number of solar-ready systems have already been installed.

Duct Rebates

In addition to selling solar, the contractor also has been promoting duct optimization work for the best energy performance. According to Hubbert, the best energy results are achieved when high-efficiency systems are combined with duct optimization (repair and/or resizing).

In addition to federal rebates, which continue to be strong for solar and other renewable technologies (up to $3,000 for replacements), local utility CPS Energy offers up to a $2,500 rebate on ductwork optimization/replacement. The company offers free duct evaluations, and free second opinions on any duct repair or replacement quotes. It performs air balancing and diagnostics, and takes a whole-house approach to providing a customized air conditioning system. It doesn’t just install boxes.

Hubbert said that too often, customers are told they need a new a/c system, when in fact they need better ductwork.

Typical duct renovations from Champion include:

• Replacing damaged and undersized ducts.

• Adding proper suspension to the ducts, and sealing all of the existing ducts that are assembled correctly.

• Installing larger ducts for certain rooms, and upgrading the registers and grilles. The company also recommends that attic insulation be upgraded to R-49 to R-60 levels.

“We are focused on being an energy-efficient organization and pride ourselves on providing green solutions for our customers,” said co-owner Tony Martinez. “Solar air conditioners are the wave of the future for the HVAC industry.

“The ability of the systems to integrate solar power into the utility of the home will be beneficial and impactful for residents across the map.”

Publication date: 08/29/2011