Air Conditioning Charleston – February 2014

Ahhh…. The weather is finally starting to cooperate in Charleston. After an interesting set of ice storms, snow, and rain, we are finally beginning to see warmer weather and longer days. During the month of February, we responded to numerous calls involving iced-over air conditioning units, broken heaters, and even a burnt up fan. The closing of the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston was a headache for many of our technicians as the worked back tirelessly throughout the day and night to navigate their way around the Lowcountry in response to these calls. However, we made it and it doesn’t look like we should have any more extremely cold days ahead. As the smell of spring is in the air, we are beginning to focus our attention on getting air conditioning units in Charleston ready for the warm weather. One way we are doing this is providing air conditioning tune-ups and maintenances to customers so they can rest assured that their unit is ready for the South Carolina heat. Also, we have undertaken many air conditioning replacement projects and help satisfy many new homeowners and business owners.

In this issue of our newsletter, we will focus on:

  • Government bills that could affect us in the future.
  • R-22’s phase out
  • Ductless air conditioning mini splits
  • The Commercial HVAC Problem
  • Leasing negotiation for our Charleston business owners
  • And more..

Washington Shows Support for HVAC Energy Bill

Air Conditioning - Washington Shows Support for HVAC Energy BillWith nearly 39% of total U.S. energy consumption coming directly from commercial and residential buildings, Washington has been looking to implement energy efficient programs. There has been keen interest from Washington on HVAC, accounting for 32% of energy use for commercial properties, to cut consumption in half by 2025. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R- Ohio, recently re-introduced S 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, with modifications that have shown bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. The Shaheen-Portman legislation would increase the use of energy-efficiency technologies (specifically HVAC) in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors while boosting investment in building efficiency upgrades, help manufacturers reduce energy use and alter national model building codes. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Energy would work closely with private sector partners to encourage research, development, and commercialization of innovative energy-efficiency technology and processes for industrial applications. Federal funding would be given to states in support of commercial building energy-efficiency financing. Small-business counselors advise against leaning too heavily on your broker when it comes time to negotiate.

According to Robert Wilkins, vice president of public affairs for Danfoss Group Global, “This bipartisan bill is an important piece of legislation to create jobs and incentivize the broad deployment of technologies available today to reduce energy use in the U.S.” However, this approach to the bill has been challenged by many business owners throughout the U.S. While it may create an immediate need for energy regulators and manufacturers to promote the new program initiatives, there are fine lines that haven’t received praise from many building owners. For instance, “The Shaheen-Portman bill references ASHRAE’s Building Energy Quotient (bEQ) that basically labels buildings and allows you to compare buildings of the same size, shape, and construction,” states Tom Werkema, vice president of ASHRAE. “It’s an enormously powerful tool, especially if it’s referenced in legislation because now you’re starting to affect existing buildings.” For example, Werkema said, a realtor could provide the bEQ for several buildings to a potential lessee. From there, the lessee can weigh the price of rent against the cost of utilities to find the best value in a rental property. It could provide an incredible incentive for building owners to make energy-efficiency upgrades to their buildings that they would normally not consider.

How To Get a Good Deal on a Lease

How To Get a Good Deal on a Lease - Air Conditioning Charleston

  • 1. Set Terms; Get Free Rent
    Small-business advisers generally recommend the shortest term possible: one year, with as many as 10 one-year renewal options. The rent does not necessarily increase with each option — that, too, is negotiable
  • 2. Mind the Extras
    Understand and utilize the difference between NNN, gross, and full-service leases. If the building is approaching 10 years old, or the HVAC systems have seen inordinate use (especially in Charleston), get the HVAC systems inspected, along with the plumbing and electrical equipment. If you find problems, make it a point of negotiation.
  • 3. Trust but verify
    Small business counselors advise against leaning too heavily on your broker when it is time to negotiate.

More Than One-Third of Commercial HVAC Systems Are Broken. Right Now!

35% of HVAC units in America’s commercial buildings are costing millions.

Air Conditioning - More Than One Third of Commercial HVAC Systems Are Broken. Right Now!Incredible! In an era of technology-driven, communication focused, and bottom-line fixated businesses, it’s amazing that literally thousands of dollars of hard-earned money is flying out the door every year. According to respected industry studies, 35% of HVAC units in America’s commercial buildings are broken and not functioning at optimal levels. Data from the Energy Commission shows that the problem might be even worse. In a sample of commercial buildings, more than 45% of the Roof Top Units (RTUs) had an improper refrigerant charge, 39% had low airflow, and an astonishing 63% had broken economizers.

An astonishing number of Charleston commercial HVAC systems are broken without owners knowing it, costing businesses thousands. The size of this problem is remarkable but just as remarkable is how easy it is to fix the problem. The most traditional approach to this problem is to end it before it starts, so to say. Preventative maintenance of your HVAC units should yield owners the proper information about the condition of their systems and what to expect over the coming years. Furthermore, with proper maintenance, units are proven to have an average 30% longer life span than those without maintenance. Yet, this isn’t the only answer to the problem. A new generation of Energy Management Systems (EMS) provides accurate, real-time insight into HVAC equipment and energy performance so cost-effectively that the net effect is like “free money.” The owner can earn a very favorable return, typically better than 40% on just the energy costs, with other benefits including reduced costs for overhead staff, maintenance, and comfort for customers. In many cases, there will be a need for a maintenance service call. But operators of EMS systems will have enough actionable information and real-time control to know that the maintenance work-order is worth the cost. In fact, you can just clock on a web link to reset the unit or turn it off for a few days while waiting for a repair. Improving HVAC efficiency by replacing units is a great idea, but many times this approach fails to yield the ROI that CFO’s and business owners are looking for. In many cases, identifying and repairing failed HVACs is a better approach. In fact, this approach yields a proven track record of more than 15% energy efficiency improvements for entire buildings.

If a building has six RTU’s (Roof Top Units) and one fails, the net energy efficiency of the entire system drops significantly, sometimes much more than the 1/6th that the single HVAC unit represents. The broken unit continues to try to heat or cool, while the other units are working overtime to compensate for the failed unit. Additionally, the broken unit (with its continuous runtime) causes additional wear and tear on all components while the adjacent units experience increased runtimes, which causes them to fail sooner than normal.

EYE ON IT: Current Industry Trends

Air Conditioning CharlestonIn recent years, air conditioning Charleston and ductless mini-split air conditioners have been a trend among business owners. Mini splits have numerous potential applications in commercial buildings. Their small size and flexibility for centralized for heating and cooling individual rooms/offices. Many models can have as many as four indoor air handling units connected to one outdoor unit. Also, they are often easier to install than other types of space conditioning systems. For example, the hook-up between the outdoor and indoor units generally requires only a three-inch hole through a wall for the conduit. Since mini splits have no ducts, they avoid the energy losses associated with ductwork of central forced air systems. Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning.

R-22’s Phase-Out in Charleston

Air Conditioning - R-22’s Phase Out in CharlestonMany air conditioning Charleston homeowners and business owners are wondering why the cost of HVAC refrigerant has nearly quadrupled in recent years. R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. Unfortunately for the environment, releases of R-22, such as those from leaks, contribute to ozone depletion. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol established requirements that began the worldwide phase-out of R-22. The Montreal Protocol is carried out in the U.S. through Title VI of the Clean Air Act. Manufacturers and chemical suppliers have now produced R- 410A, a chlorine and ozone-depleting free chemical for air conditioners. It cannot be used to retrofit existing R- 22 equipment due to significantly higher operating pressures, but it is available with new HVAC units. The costs are significantly less expensive than R-22 and all authorized HVAC service companies should have access to 410A.


  • 2010- the U.S. to reduce its consumption by 75%. As a result, HVAC system manufacturers may not produce new air conditioners and heat pumps containing R-22
  • 2015- the U.S. to reduce its consumption by 90%
  • 2020- the U.S. to reduce its consumption by 99.5% of chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce R-22 to service air conditioners.

This Month’s Q&A

Q: Can I troubleshoot my air conditioning Charleston unit before calling for service?
A: The answer is, Yes….with caution.
Here are some simple procedures you can perform before contacting Blue Ridge for service:

    • Check Emergency Switch.

Everyone has one usually in your utility room or near your furnace or boiler. It is a red plated switch. Make sure it is on. Sometimes it is located in a stairwell.

  • Check disconnect switches


(indoor and outdoor if you have a split system).

Make sure that circuit breakers are ON or that fuses have not blown.

  • Check for sufficient airflow.


Make sure air filters are clean and that supply-air and return-air grilles are open and unobstructed.

  • Check the settings on your thermostat-
    If you want cooling, make sure the temperature control selector is set below room temperature and the SYSTEM switch is on the COOL or AUTO position.


More Tips on Air Conditioning, Commercial HVAC (, , )

If you are looking for a Charleston heating and cooling professionals, then please call 843-375-6592 or complete our online request form.

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