By Kathleen Duff
Technology is bringing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems out of the dark for today’s homeowners who are increasingly involved in making sure their homes are safe and comfortable.
Following are five HVAC innovations that are changing the future of our homes, according to Scott Butterworth, owner/operations manager of McCreery and Sun of Colorado, which is located in Greeley.
1. “Probably the most common concern and the one people are talking about right now is indoor air quality,” primarily out of concern for COVID-19 transmission and allergies, Butterworth said. New air-quality systems are made for today’s homes that can trap allergens and germs because homes are better insulated. One air purifier by Honeywell, for example, uses ultraviolet light to help clear the area of allergens, mold and even odors. Another company, Global Plasma Solutions, uses technology to produce positive and negative ions to rid the air of viruses, bacteria, volatile organic compounds, smoke and other airborne issues.
Butterworth said he tested the GPS equipment in his own home prior to offering it to customers. He noticed the system filter became quite dark in the first few weeks, indicating that it was pulling particles from the air efficiently. After running the system for six months, the filters were light gray, which showed that the air was much cleaner.
2. It’s no surprise that homes are becoming smarter, as in smart technology. And that applies to heating and air conditioning, as well. Programmable thermostats have given way to smartphone apps that allow homeowners to control heat, air and timing from a distance. “Home automation is another big thing. Originally, we got into it through WiFi thermostats – communicating on your phone to see what your house was doing,” Butterworth said. But technology now allows even more control by alerting homeowners to issues such as water leaks. And customers are requesting more connections to services such as Alexa to keep tabs on their heating and cooling in a more targeted and personal approach that matches their needs.
3. High-efficiency equipment is becoming increasingly important in today’s home. The idea of saving energy and being kinder to the environment is appealing to many customers. Butterworth said, “I think there’s a lot of people who don’t quite understand it. But this new equipment saves on utility costs,” he said. “This efficiency helps with comfort in the house, and the heating system can run a little longer as far as the blower operating, and it saves you money.”
He said he recently led a training class on a high-efficiency tankless water heater. “Right now, a traditional water heater will try to keep 40 or 50 gallons of water heated, which is not efficient. But we now have the ability to go to 96 percent or even 99 percent on a tankless water system that only heats the water that is being used. It saves money and reduces carbon emissions.”
4. Solar systems also are becoming more accessible in homes, McCreery said. New technology allows energy generated from solar to be stored, so concerns about reliability due to cloudy days or low sun exposure no longer exist. McCreery and Sun installs solar water heating systems and offers a variety of solar services, such as panel repair via certified technicians. Innovation in photovoltaic systems is allowing customers to craft energy sources to their needs. Butterworth said he had a customer use a photovoltaic system to heat their floors in addition to providing their lighting.
McCreery and Sun works with the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute and Xcel Energy to help customers quality for solar rebates, which can offset additional front-end expenses for equipment and help homeowners save on utility costs.
5. Innovation also has reached customer service. The COVID-19 pandemic, out of necessity, prompted additional safety measures, Butterworth said, such as more attention to cleaning and wearing masks. Some of those safety measures will continue, such as asking customers if they prefer that technicians wear masks and using bags to remove air filters to reduce contamination. That attention to detail is being used to keep customers safe as well as employees.
Advances in technology also are prompting customers to become more savvy consumers. Online information and social media bring more attention to new products for the home. “Out of 100 customers, 10-15 of then, when they call, they are looking for one-specific product, such as a WiFi stat that is compatible with Alexa. They know what they want,” he said. “It’s refreshing when you do get a phone call from a customer in that 15 percent who says they are looking for a specific product. We can help them facilitate their goals.”
> McCreery and Sun of Colorado. Contact the company at McCreeryandSun.com, call 970.339.5740; or follow them on Facebook. The company offers 24-hour emergency service.