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.
To keep your home HVAC system running well, you need to give your system an annual checkup. To help you out, we have created this HVAC maintenance checklist with insight from Greeley Furnace Company.
Scott Stevens, co-owner and president of Greeley Furnace, offers checkpoints that make good sense.
He suggests: “Make sure the filter is clean and be sure your outdoor unit is free and clear of debris, specifically on the condenser coil. Many people believe that if they set their thermostat to 65 instead of 72 it will cool their home faster, but in fact it can cause the system to freeze, the system is either on or off basically. So, it’s best to set your thermostat at your desired temperature instead of the much lower setting.”
Stevens added that many family homes have upgraded their HVAC system to a newer high efficiency system and they don’t realize it will require more routine maintenance than their old system in order to maintain its efficiency rating.
“If annual maintenance is not performed by a qualified technician, your highly efficient system will not perform at its maximum output, thus costing you more to operate,” he said. “Lack of maintenance can also cause intermittent reliability issues with these high efficiency systems. It would be like driving a high-performance sports car and never giving it a tune up. According to the National Comfort Institute, most systems are operating at approximately 65% of the rated capacity, mainly due to poor air flow issues, lack of maintenance or poor installation. People think if they change the filter every six months, they can just forget it, but that’s really not enough if you want true efficiency and reliable performance.”
Stevens added that the most important thing is actually the installation. “There is only so much we can do if the unit is not installed properly,” he said. If you’re concerned about the performance of your heating and cooling system or need to consider a newer highly efficient system call Greeley Furnace Company for an appointment. They’ve been offering certified technicians that have been servicing Weld County and the surrounding areas since 1958.
Before COVID-19 struck, people already spent 70 percent of their time in their home, and now it’s even more. But viruses aren’t their only concern. Those with asthma, allergies, compromised lung function and other conditions do better in clean air – and even those without a condition can get the occasional headache from poor air quality.
Without some kind of air filtering system in place, the air in a home, office or other building can contain those hard-to-see dust particulates, allergens (including pollen, mold spores and pet dander), and volatile organic compounds, VOCs.
“If you look at the sunlight after you vacuumed and look at the air, there are millions of things flying around in the air, and we breathe that in,” Richard said.
Air Purification Solutions
Northern Colorado Air offers a few solutions for cleaner, fresher air from the installation of air purification and filtration systems to the regular cleaning of a furnace. The company installs proven, name-brand air conditioning systems, furnaces and heating systems, as well as HVAC equipment and replacement parts, at homes and businesses along the Front Range, mainly in Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland and Windsor. The systems run efficiently, reliably, quietly and safely, while minimizing operational costs.
Lennox PureAir is one of Northern Colorado Air’s air purification systems, which is compatible with most HVAC systems without requiring additional energy costs. It is a three-part filtration system that uses ultraviolet light and a specialized filter to remove more than 99 percent of dust and allergens and more than 90 percent of bioaerosols that include airborne viruses, as well as any ozone emissions that could be in the air. It also destroys volatile organic compounds and odors from cooking, pets, solvents and cleaning products.
“All the air that goes into your furnace would be going through that filtration system,” Richard said.
LED In-Duct Purifier
Another air purification system is the Reme Halo, a LED in-duct air purifier that uses ultraviolet light to purify the areas of the home accessed by the central air-conditioning system. It uses bi-polar ionization and a specialized technology to remove dust, allergens, airborne and surface bacteria and viruses, and odors from cooking, pets and other musty sources.
“It kills anything moving through it as long as the air moves properly through the duct system,” Richard said.
The Reme Halo works on the supply side of the air stream, while the Lennox works on the return side of the duct work.
“None of those units produce ozone,” Richard said. “Obviously, we breathe some in because we’re outside. We just don’t want mechanized ozone in your house.”
Richard gets asked if the installation of an air purification system means no more dusting – he has to tell customers they’ll still need to dust but not as much.
“You’re going to live a healthier life, not breathing dirt into your lungs, plus your air will be more comfortable throughout the house,” Richard said.
Northern Colorado Air offers a free indoor air-quality analysis using Air Advice to evaluate air quality in the home and to provide a detailed report of the level of particulates and allergens. A plan can be drafted using the report as a basis for recommending, installing and maintaining an air purification product. The company also offers free in-home replacement quotes on all of its other products and most of its services.
Northern Colorado Air has three departments to offer its whole house air-purification and comfort systems. The first is for new construction installation and the second is for existing home retrofits of air-conditioning and furnace units. The third is for service or repair – the company offers a maintenance plan to service its customers’ HVAC systems.
> Northern Colorado Air Inc., 812 Stockton Ave., Fort Collins; 970.669.2055; ncagriff.com