HVAC solutions for today’s homes

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Kevin Moon of iFlow HVAC explains his heating solution to a forum participant.

By Leah Den Hartogh

Builders, contractors, designers, and industry people all piled into the ballroom at the Toronto Marriott Markham Hotel Nov. 15 to listen to various forum speakers present their findings at the LEEP Gas Mechanicals Technology Forum. Close to 100 people attended. Hosted by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), these events are designed to support collaborative decisions on “best fit” mechanical systems for today’s homes,

The day was split into four main blocks. The first began with a panel session with Sean Wadsworth of Branthaven Homes, Burlington, Ont., Andy Oding from Building Knowledge, Cambridge, Ont., Adam Sylvestre of HVAC Designs, Ajax, Ont., and Tony Di Clemente of Aria Comfort, Bolton, Ont. who discussed the heating and cooling needs of today’s housing.

The second session was again with Wadsworth and Sylvestre and was about how to work with an HVAC designer to enhance comfort and save money. The third block was dedicated to the manufacturers in attendance which included Jonathan William from Dettson, Sherbrooke, Que., Len Carfa of Carrier, Mississauga, Ont., Tim Prevost of ESP (Hi-Velocity), Edmonton, Alta., and Ramzi Handal of iFlow, Scarborough, Ont. The end of the day involved a product showcase where each of the different manufacturers could show their products.

There were a few key takeaways from the forum. The first was that the industry would like to see more zoning systems being installed in homes and the second is that the housing market is changing.

Home buyers expect more

HVAC industry customers expect more with new technology being developed every day that attempts make homes more comfortable. “Homeowners want to be able to use each room in the home at different points of the year,” reports Wadsworth. This isn’t an easy with homes becoming more difficult to heat, especially when they are upwards of three floors with ever smaller areas for HVAC equipment.

Increased window space isn’t helping. Participants heard that homes used to be designed with about five percent of the exterior wall space devoted to windows. Today’s practice devotes about 30 percent to windows.

Oding stressed how important it is to educate the consumers on what is needed in the homes. For example, windows – in most cases – only need to be around 0.3 to 0.4 SHGC rated (solar heat gain coefficient) but so many homes have windows with higher ratings.

Ducts need to be sealed to prevent leakage, which typically accounts for 30 to 40 percent heat loss in forced air systems. With sealing, the rate drops to around 15 percent. (It should be noted that duct sealing is required in Ontario.)

Each of the manufacturers (who had to qualify for the event) presented various products that they offer that provided solutions for these issues.

At the end of the day, panelists came to take questions from the audience. One questioned whether zoning was really very popular. Panelists argued that it should be more popular amongst homeowners than it is. But customers just don’t know what to ask for. “Every time I’m answering the phone, customers are asking for zoning. They just don’t know how to ask,” said Wadsmorth.

NRCan has held LEEP forums across the country. For more information, please visit www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/housing/leep.

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