MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Honeywell has announced a marketing and sales alliance with enalasys Corp., Calexico, CA, to provide computerized diagnostic testing, enabling homeowners and light commercial customers to save energy by optimizing hvac system performance.

Under the agreement, Honey-well has exclusive rights to the testing system, called HomeScan, and will create a national network of certified contractors to apply it. These contractors will receive training, technical support, and marketing assistance from enalasys.

The biggest energy-using appliance in the home is the heating and cooling system, which eats up nearly half of all home energy consumed, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Inefficient systems, naturally, gulp even more energy.

Because of soaring energy costs, consumers are receptive to solutions that trim energy use. Likewise, utilities are interested in ways to improve energy efficiency. With HomeScan, contractors can use this diagnostic system to pinpoint problem areas and identify opportunities for energy savings and comfort improvement.

The HomeScan system has been in development for about four years now. In the second quarter of 2000, Honeywell “started to analyze the technology to see if there was a fit,” said Steve Arnholt, director of brand and channel marketing. The company put together focus groups in Dallas TX, Minneapolis MN, and Orlando FL, to study the market for such a service. At the same time, the Tennessee Valley Author-ity (TVA) tested and evaluated the system.

Early in the fourth quarter, Honeywell decided to pursue an alliance to supply the system to contractors and utilities. The official announcement of the alliance was made at last week’s Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Annual Con-ference in Las Vegas, NV.

Computer With Sensors

The HomeScan system includes a laptop computer with special software, a portable printer, and a wireless diagnostic system with multiple sensors for temperature, humidity, and airflow. The sensors are placed near supply and return air ducts, in attic or crawlspace areas, and on the condensing unit.

The system allows a technician to analyze both the airflow and refrigeration sides of the hvac system. With the data and printout generated, the tech can give the customer a report and recommendations on the spot.

HomeScan is covered by two patents, one on the system technology and one on the airflow manifold, noted Michael Cogbill, chief technology officer of enalasys. Setting up the system and all its sensors takes about 15 to 20 min, he said. It then takes about an hour and a half to test out a unit.

Compared to other test methods, this system “provides a whole new world of precision,” said Arnholt. Its temperature sensors provide 0.1°F response. Humidity sensor range is from 0% to 100%. The airflow sensors furnish a fast response time and an averaging routine for stable readings.

The HomeScan system is being offered to the company’s Perfect Climate contractors and 100% Club contractors. Those interested who are not a member of either group would need to enroll in one of the two to participate.

The system will be rolled out first in the TVA’s region of Tennessee, Georgia, and a portion of Kentucky, as well as in Arizona and California. The second phase will be Baltimore MD, Dallas Minneapolis, and Orlando.

Training and certification of contractors is required because Honeywell wants contractors “to really understand the ins and outs” of HomeScan, stated Arnholt, and also understand system selling. Benefits to contractors will include added sales of new equipment and replacement components, in addition to service repairs. Contractors can also differentiate their service offering by promoting diagnostic capabilities.

Pilot Program

A pilot program was established with Jackson EMC, a Georgia utility company, late last summer. A special testing agency was set up to market and perform hvac diagnostic services on behalf of the utility. The resulting diagnostic reports and service leads are forwarded to certified HomeScan contractors, who provide a quote to the homeowner for renovations.

After servicing and upgrading the hvac system, the contractor then performs a follow-up diagnostic scan to ensure that optimum performance, energy savings, and comfort improvements are being achieved.

The pilot program has been doing eight to 12 hvac system tests per week. The testing agency has found that “85% of the systems had at least one problem requiring work,” Arnholt said.

Typically, a scan identifies supply or return air problems or loss of refrigerant. Renovations include ductwork modification, duct sealing, fan replacement, charging the system, refrigeration system repair, and thermostat upgrades.

The alliance will also be introducing a monitoring system called HomePulse, designed to be installed permanently in the home. Scheduled to be released in the summer, this system will provide monitoring via the Internet. The system will report to a national call center, which will notify the contractor of any problem. Home-owners will also be able to view their hvac status on the web.

Commenting on the technology, Eric Taylor, ceo of enalasys, remarked, “Consider how the automotive industry uses computer technology to check and troubleshoot today’s car engines, emissions, and subsystems. Our technology brings that level of diagnostics to hvac.”

For more information, call 800-345-6770, ext. 518; or visit www.honeywell.com/yourhome/ (website).

Publication date: 03/05/2001