When it comes to home heating and cooling, today's homeowners have several primary areas of concern, said Adam Kern, co-owner with his wife, Cheryl, of Official/Acme Heating and Cooling in McHenry.
Homeowners want to be comfortable, of course, but they want to achieve that without incurring huge energy bills or harming the environment. People also want to be sure the air they breathe inside their homes is free of allergens, particulates and germs.
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"We like to look at the entire house envelope to pinpoint where they are losing heating and cooling. In most cases, we can solve those problems for them with electric dampers and/or duct sealing," Kern said. "We can also improve indoor air quality through duct cleaning, duct sanitizing with ultra-violet light, and the installation of mechanical filters."
Kern has been in the heating and cooling business for 35 years. He and Cheryl purchased Official Heating and Cooling in McHenry two years ago when the former owners retired. Last year, the couple added Acme Heating of Wheeling to their holdings and combined the companies into Official/Acme Heating and Cooling this year.
"Many people assume that if they have a two-story home, they are going to be more uncomfortable on the second floor during the summer," Kern said. "It is true that in a large or multilevel home with only one thermostat, it is nearly impossible to achieve a constant temperature throughout the home."
But Official/Acme crews can solve that problem by "zoning" the home with electric dampers and supplemental thermostats, giving homeowners a constant comfort level throughout their abode.
"Every home can be fixed. Electric dampers, which are commonly used in commercial buildings, can regulate the air flow in different areas of the house, as needed. But sometimes a home's ductwork will need to be adjusted in order for this solution to work," Kern said.
Many comfort problems in homes can also be caused by leaks in the ductwork that allow treated air to escape into the basement and between the walls. Such leaks make the HVAC equipment work harder, causing the home to be less comfortable and increasing the bottom line on those energy bills.
"If your basement is freezing during the summer, this is probably why. We can redirect that cool air into other rooms of the house with duct sealing," he said. "We inject a liquid into the ducts at a high pressure. It adheres to all openings where air is being lost and prevents the loss of treated air. This is such an important fix that the utility companies are even offering credits to people who have it done."
Official/Acme handles the paperwork with the gas and electric companies, figures out the credit the utilities will give the homeowner, and subtracts it from the cost of the service. The utility companies reimburse Official/Acme directly, Kern said.
Depending on the size of the house, duct sealing alone can earn a homeowner up to a $500 credit from the electric and gas companies. Other energy-saving improvements like the installation of a high-efficiency furnace can save up to $1,600.
Duct sealing can also help with improvement of a home's indoor air quality by not allowing dirt and dust from one area of the home to get into the ducts and spread to all areas of the house.
Further improvements to indoor air quality can be made through duct cleaning once every six to eight years, the installation of mechanical filters that remove particulates from the air stream, and the treatment of ducts with the same type of ultra violet light that is used to kill germs in our water supplies, Kern said.
"Through these interventions, you can make sure the air you breathe inside your home is as good as it is going to get," he said.
Official/Acme Heating and Cooling crews are highly trained and familiar with all of the latest HVAC equipment so that they can easily and competently install and repair it.
"The technology of our business seems like it is changing on a daily basis," Kern said. "Our guys are constantly attending classes, like a recent eight-hour class they took on a new thermostat. Heating and cooling systems today are as sophisticated as the new cars. They are too complicated to work on unless you have been specifically trained."
Official/Acme handles repairs and installations of residential and small commercial furnaces, air conditioners, smartphone-controlled thermostats, boilers, humidifiers, water heaters, sump pumps, ejector pumps and anything related to ductwork, including the installation of new ductwork in additions.
The company serves the North Shore area up to the Wisconsin state line and the Northwest suburbs as far west as Huntley and south to Elgin, Kern said.
For more information, call (800) 350-4822 or visit www.officialhvac.com.