In the shore town of Eatontown, NJ, gentrification has made affordable housing increasingly difficult to find for lower-income residents. When the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) purchased a manufactured housing park behind the Monmouth Mall, it was faced with the challenge of improving living conditions for residents without increasing their costs. Because utility bills for older Read More
In the shore town of Eatontown, NJ, gentrification has made affordable housing increasingly difficult to find for lower-income residents. When the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) purchased a manufactured housing park behind the Monmouth Mall, it was faced with the challenge of improving living conditions for residents without increasing their costs. Because utility bills for older units exceeded the cost of rent, the AHA made it their goal to significantly reduce utility costs in newer units while encouraging other existing residents to upgrade to an energy- efficient manufactured home.
To develop newer energy efficient homes, along with one Net Zero Energy unit, the Affordable Housing Alliance turned to The Levy Partnership, a building and energy consulting firm that specializes in developing and demonstrating energy efficient technology. The Levy Partnership also brought in key partners specializing in home energy technology, including Next Step Network and Champion Homes. For heating and cooling, Levy chose Panasonic heat pump air conditioners due to their high performance and efficiency. Additionally, Panasonic ventilating fans were installed to provide intermittent and continuous ventilation as well as room to room air transfer. Panasonic calls this combination of heat pumps and ventilation fans the “Total Home Solution.”
Panasonic’s Total Home Solution significantly contributed to reducing utility consumption, cutting energy bills in half while improving indoor air quality. The Affordable Housing Alliance met its goal to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs for residents and recognizes Panasonic’s technology as a viable solution for future new construction and renovation projects. Additionally, because Panasonic’s heat pump and ventilation solutions can be installed at the manufactured home facility, Panasonic is also a viable solution for other manufactured housing projects.
As neighborhoods are redeveloped throughout the Jersey Shore, lower-income households are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable—and comfortable—housing. Residents in Eatontown, N.J. were no exception, and when the Affordable Housing Alliance purchased land that had older manufactured homes already on it, it committed to building new models that were both reasonably priced and had higher-quality living conditions.
The Alliance knew that utilities costs were a large part of what made older manufactured homes expensive for residents. At times, residents were paying approximately $400 to $500 per month in utilities and worse, when oil and propane costs were on the rise. A lack of insulation meant the homes were wasting vast amounts of energy in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. Because of this, the new models needed to be well insulated and have energy- efficient and cost-effective utilities.
After receiving funding from the Department of Energy’s Building America Program, The Levy Partnership began coordinating the development of new manufactured homes for the Alliance, including one Zero Net Energy home. While each of the manufactured homes was built by Champion with the goal
of reducing energy usage, the goal of the Zero Net Energy home was to reduce energy consumption to zero (0). In order to achieve this, the home needed solar panels, which produce sustainable energy, and utilities that were energy efficient. In choosing a heating and air conditioning solution for both the manufactured and Zero Net Energy homes, The Levy Partnership selected Panasonic’s ductless solution, which was able to be installed at Champion Homes’ manufactured housing factory. This means the unit was ready to use once the home arrived on site, saving on installation and production costs.
“Our team wanted more than a vendor when we were selecting a heating and air conditioning solution for this project. We wanted a partner who would collaborate with us to deliver the right solution for Eatontown residents’ energy and comfort needs,” said Jordan Dentz, vice president of the Levy Partnership. “Panasonic’s team provided the technical guidance we needed, plus they have the sleek, low- wattage and quiet products to back them up.”
Next Step, a nonprofit network that promotes sustainable home ownership, brought the Alliance and Champion Homes together for this project. Once Champion built the homes, Panasonic’s ductless solutions were installed. Because these systems do not require any ductwork, space for the residents was maximized since thick walls and soffits with ductwork were not required.
While testing in the homes will continue until mid-2018, Panasonic’s solutions are already proving helpful in contributing to both increased comfort and decreased costs for residents. Of note, utilities bills in the new manufactured homes are now 25% of what they were in older units: they dropped from approximately $400 to $500 per month to only about $36 to $80 per month for gas and less than $40 per month for electric. As a result, the Alliance achieved one of their primary goals for the project—lower total cost of home ownership for residents.
It’s nearly mid-2019. Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018? How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of Read More
It’s nearly mid-2019. Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018? How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of your community.
“A high-quality truck wrap is one of the cheapest, most effective forms of marketing available to heating and cooling contractors,” said Gary Nolt, president of Cassel, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based sign and vinyl shop with 18 employees. “If you break down the number of impressions a vehicle wrap provides, divided by the cost and lifespan of the wrap, the average cost per one thousand impressions is $.15. Compare that to $5.92 for radio advertising, $11.66 for a quarter-page newspaper ad, or $20.54 for a prime time TV spot.”
Cassel wraps or letters roughly 500 service vans each year—it makes of 35 percent of their business. The company was founded in 1945, and has progressed from hand-lettering furniture and trucks to become a one-stop-shop branding, design and display company. Custom vinyl vehicle wraps are what they specialize in, from Smart Cars to semi-trailers.
“My father in law started in the family business when he was 15 years old,” said Nolt. “I’ve been here for 22 years. As a matter of fact, my very first project here was the Burnham Racing trailer. That was in the spring of 1996 I purchased the company in 2012, and we recently opened a second location.”
During his two decades with the company, one of the biggest changes Cassel has witnessed is the marketing mindset of service contractors. It’s one of the reasons that Cassel has made a strong shift from sign production to vehicle wraps.
“Everyone is busy right now, so it would almost make sense to think companies would be trimming their marketing budgets a little,” said Nolt. “But the opposite is true. It’s a branding war out there, and nobody can afford to give up an inch. This is the prevailing mindset today.”
After providing truck wraps for a company that hasn’t used them in the past, Cassel gets the same kind of feedback regularly. First and foremost, business owners say that the phone rings more often.
“Contractors tell me that their customers comment on how frequently they notice their wrapped trucks around town,” said Nolt. “They own one or two vans and customers think they own five or 10.”
He explained that trucks with a fresh wrap also go a long way to boost the driver’s pride and professionalism. Most employees tend to take better care of a nice looking vehicle.
“Many contractors come to us because they want to increase their brand awareness, so branding is where we start,” said Nolt. “If a new logo is needed, we can help. If they have a good logo, or if they want to update an existing image, we can work with that, too. There’s really no limit to the process, but we want to help them achieve consistency across all platforms. The message they deliver visually should be current and forward thinking.”
“If you’re going to market yourself, you ought to do it well,” he continued. “If the service you provide is good, shouldn’t your image convey as much?”
The designers at Cassel are excellent at creating a look and scaling it to fit a canvas, whether that canvas be a business card or a brand new box van. But it helps if the customer already have an idea of what they would like to accomplish. At the very least, the service company should know what they don’t like.
“If you’re grasping at straws and starting out fresh, spend some time on Google,” explained Nolt. “What catches your eye? Or, on the flip side of the coin, what makes you cringe? Then identify what it is about those designs that makes you feel the way you do. When you come to a shop like ours, it will help if you already have some direction in mind, even if it’s a vague concept.”
While budget is obviously a consideration, it’s not a limiting factor. Cassel insists that there’s a solution for every budget, from small lettering panels to massive, fully wrapped fleets.
“We really try to over-serve customers, even when the budget is small,” said Nolt. “If we provide a good product, and they go out and succeed with it, they’ll be back for more later on.”
To keep things simple, truck lettering and wrapping options are broken into packages: lettering packages, partial wraps & full wraps. Based on the color of the vehicle and the design of the wrap, the appearance of a full wrap can sometimes be achieved without the full cost.
“If the simplest of designs and a small budget will help you grow your brand, we want to help,” said Nolt. “That might only be the company name and number in a nice font. The only thing we discourage is magnets. We can and do make magnets, when requested, but we feel as though magnets tell the world that you’re in this business temporarily. And that’s not a message you want to convey.”
Modern truck wraps are made of specialized vinyl, 2mm thick with a 1.3mm UV laminate over top. Cassel has a large format printer that can print up to 64” wide. The state-of-the-art printer can produce almost any color at all. A paint reader is used to match vehicle colors, if needed.
Once a design is created and the customer signs the project, the physical work begins.
“A full wrap typically takes a week or two, start to finish,” said Nolt. “Customers will often buy new trucks or vans and bring them directly here from the lot. But in a situation where the van is needed immediately, we can make it happen a lot more quickly.”
Before installation, vehicles are meticulously washed. Door handles and lights are removed, and the whole exterior is wiped down with alcohol. Only then is vinyl applied. After the material is adhered to the body of the vehicle, heat is applied to the edges and stretched areas.
“Like all technologies and products, vinyl has progressed rapidly in the past decade,” explained Nolt. “The material we use requires a 24 to 48 hour bonding period. When first installed, the bond between vinyl and truck exterior is mild, so it’s easier to work with. After settling for a day or two, that bond becomes much stronger.”
The vinyl used today also has microscopic air channels on the backside, allowing the installer to push air bubbles out without much trouble.
In an effort to provide value to the customer, Cassel has done a lot of research on which ink products last the longest. How long a truck wrap lasts will depend on a number of factors, primarily how the vehicle is cared for and the number of miles it’s driven.”
“High pressure washing a wrapped vehicle is fine, but it should be done carefully and sparingly,” explained Nolt. “Generally keeping the truck clean protects the wrap, but that’s something you should be doing anyway, for the sake of the company image.”
A quality, well-installed truck wrap will last roughly the service life of the vehicle, up to 10 years. Wraps look very good for easily five to seven years. Imagine how many customers see your vehicle in a seven year period.
“I like to think that Cassel has grown for the same reason a lot of our customers have grown: we provide an excellent product at a great value,” said Nolt. “But there’s another part of the equation. I’m surrounded by a lot of really bright, ambitious, trustworthy people. I credit Cassel’s success to the team of people that work here. We are a big family. I’m grateful for them, and I’m grateful for the solid business-to-business heritage here in Lancaster.”
Every month Mechanical Hub and the Plumbing Museum will be collaborating to bring you a piece of plumbing history. We kick off the segment with what was thought to be a game changer in alternative pipe joining methods. Introduced in 2009 for a limited time, the StreamTECH adhesive joining system from Mueller Industries was launched Read More
Every month Mechanical Hub and the Plumbing Museum will be collaborating to bring you a piece of plumbing history. We kick off the segment with what was thought to be a game changer in alternative pipe joining methods.
Introduced in 2009 for a limited time, the StreamTECH adhesive joining system from Mueller Industries was launched as an alternative to soldering and as a flame-free option. It was the alternative to pipe joining systems.
According to the catalog, the company recognized that the existing mechanical joining systems were either too expensive or cumbersome. The StreamTECH System offered the lowest installed cost of any flameless copper piping system currently available. No expensive fittings or compression tools were required, only economical StreamTECH fittings and adhesives, which were easy to use and assemble quickly.
Working in close collaboration with Mueller engineers, 3M’s research team developed a 2-part epoxy adhesive based on their Scotch-Weld technology which was specially formulated for joining copper, brass and bronze metals.
Recognizing that even the strongest adhesive might not provide a 100% reliable joint by itself, Mueller® engineers developed a proprietary internal elastomeric seal for the new StreamTECH copper fittings, which provided a self-adjusting one-way barrier to maximize the effectiveness of the bond and unparalleled protection against leakage or joint failure.
It all started with StreamTECH’s one-way lip seal, which provides more surface contact, therefore better sealing than traditional O-rings, says the brochure. It also acts like an internal wiper to evenly disperse the adhesive over the entire surface of both tube and fitting, and adjusts to imperfections in the surface of the copper tube. This results in the most reliable sealing mechanisms among mechanical, heat-free joining systems.
Located in a renovated ice house in Watertown, Mass., the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum is dedicated to promoting the contributions of the plumbing industry and its talented craftsmen across the United States. Through its unique mix of industrial history and modern art, it showcases artifacts and exhibits that range from 19th century tubs to modern toilets and a functioning rainwater reclamation system. The museum welcomes nearly a thousand visitors each year for tours and private events, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. For more information, visit: www.theplumbingmuseum.org.
As in the past with lead-free potable piping or pump efficiency standards, many contractors take a laissez-faire approach, “I’ll let the manufacturer take care of this on their end and continue to sell as I’ve always done.” Simple as that, huh? First of all, how many contractors knew of this upcoming regulation and what it Read More
As in the past with lead-free potable piping or pump efficiency standards, many contractors take a laissez-faire approach, “I’ll let the manufacturer take care of this on their end and continue to sell as I’ve always done.” Simple as that, huh?
First of all, how many contractors knew of this upcoming regulation and what it even means?
The Fan Efficiency Rating (FER) is a regulation passed by the Department of Energy in 2014 that limits the power consumption (watts per cfm) of furnace fans on certain HVAC equipment. This includes gas, oil, and electric furnaces, modular blowers and gas-fired residential package units.
This means that furnace fans, also known as blowers—which use a permanent split capacitor (PSC) motor—cannot meet the power consumption requirement. Therefore, after July 3, 2019, furnaces may only be manufactured with an electronically commutated motor (ECM), which can be either constant torque or variable speed. Inducer fans are not covered under the regulation.
“ECMs offer added benefits, including the fact that they are easier to troubleshoot,” says Valerie Mastalka, senior product marketing manager, Heating, Lennox. The main difference is that a PSC motor uses a capacitor, and an ECM does not, which typically makes trouble-shooting easier on an ECM.
According to Mastalka, there isn’t a restriction on selling or installing these after the deadline—until the inventory runs out. Most manufacturers will likely try to go through existing inventory through the end of 2019. There is no restriction on selling or installing equipment with a PSC motor that was built before July 3, 2019. And, PSC motors will still be available for warranty replacements and non-warranty repairs.
Perhaps the onus, then, for the lack of a better word, does fall squarely on the manufacturers to make sure that the new ECM units are compliant by the July 3 deadline. As with most changes in product manufacturing, there will be an incurred cost and a cost increase should be assumed.
Nonetheless, contractors need to be aware of the new standards coming into effect, and training can be paramount on these new ECM models. As engineering teams gear up for product compliance, dealers are getting ahead of the training, suggests Mastalka.
Information provided by Lennox.
Identifies hard to see problems and saves homeowners money For many years, utilities and large companies used thermal imaging to uncover potential heat problems across large areas and to keep track of heavy machinery. But more recently, thermal imaging has truly become a game changer for most contractors and others in the building trades. Thermal Read More
Identifies hard to see problems and saves homeowners money
For many years, utilities and large companies used thermal imaging to uncover potential heat problems across large areas and to keep track of heavy machinery. But more recently, thermal imaging has truly become a game changer for most contractors and others in the building trades. Thermal cameras help contractors find and document energy loss and other problems they could not otherwise easily find. This saves them time and money – which ultimately results in homeowners saving money. Most recently, contractors have begun to combine portable thermal imaging cameras with moisture meters. Using thermal imaging to find the issue and the moisture meter to verify it saves time and helps avoid surprises that will ultimately cost homeowners more.
Thermal imaging benefits contractors and homeowners
Thermal imaging detects heat given off by an object or person. It takes the energy and translates it into light that can be seen. Using the typical “Ironbow” color palette, the viewer sees the light in a range of colors: red, orange, and yellow indicates heat, while dark blue, black, or purple signifies colder temperature. Cold can represent air leaks through door and window frames, missing insulation, and water – especially evaporating water. No other technology can provide this information. Using radiation energy, contractors can now actually “see” energy loss. It is like giving contractors a super power! Thermal imaging is extremely sensitive; potential problems stand out and can be found and documented in real time.
Home inspectors were the first to adopt the use of thermal imaging, but all the building trades are now jumping on board. Most recently electricians, HVAC technicians, and plumbers have started to use thermal imaging to find problem areas quicker—and from a safer distance. In essence, thermal imaging can be used by all trades – if they are not using it now they should start using it.
The number one application contractors use thermal imaging for is to locate energy loss in hotter and colder months caused by missing insulation and poor sealing around doors and windows. Interestingly, the number two use is to locate pest infestations, including termites and rodents. While thermal imaging cannot “see” a single termite, it is excellent for locating termite nests, because of the massive amount of heat generated by huge numbers of termites living together. The third most common application is for detecting water intrusion in houses and business. Thermal imaging points contractors in the right direction, and moisture meters are then used to isolate the problem.
One other essential feature of thermal imaging is that it can be used to document issues to show customers. As a contractor who works closely with clients, I believe it is absolutely crucial that customers have a clear and in-depth understanding of what is going on with their project. Thermal imaging gives contractors the ability to proactively bring up and demonstrate issues. If the issue is something they should be concerned with, it is important to be able to document that issue with a picture or video. The more information homeowners have, the better off they will be.
Pairing thermal imaging with moisture meters offers a one-two punch
Recently, many in the building trades have begun to realize the benefits of pairing thermal imaging with moisture meters. This combination is especially effective because thermal imaging by itself does not distinguish between cold temperatures and moisture. Both show up as a dark blue image, so contractors cannot tell if the image indicates moisture or cold air. Using the two technologies together, they can simultaneously find energy loss and moisture intrusion – giving contractors a real one-two punch.
Using thermal imaging to find the issue and the moisture meter to verify it saves time – by taking the moisture meter to the area of concern a contractor can isolate the problem and quickly determine its seriousness and extent. Before the ability to pair the two technologies, contractors had moisture meters, but they had to tear the entire wall down to address a suspected problem. Using the non-contact or non-invasive/non-destructive detection methods together helps contractors confine the problem to a smaller area so they can avoid taking that wall down. The moisture meter will indicate if the spot is a matter for concern.
New affordable technology makes combining thermal imaging and moisture reading a snap
In the past few years I have been bringing thermal imaging and moisture reading equipment to every job site I visit. I use the FLIR ONE® PRO thermal imaging camera attachment in combination with the FLIR MR40 moisture meter. Both are extremely easy to use, which is especially helpful for those contractors who are not particularly tech savvy. You can attach the thermal camera to your smart phone, and the phone becomes the viewer.
I started using FLIR thermal imaging technology some years ago and this latest third generation technology has significantly improved, with even better image quality. At a cost of only $399, the FLIR ONE Pro is much more affordable for contractors than in the past. It also pays off quickly because of the money saved by finding problems more quickly.
Especially useful is the multi spectral dynamic imaging (MSX) technology, which enables users to overlay the visual with the thermal to get a clear image that the contractor can then decipher. This means users are not just seeing a screen of colors, they are seeing the definition of what they are looking at.
MSX incorporates real-time thermal video enhanced with visible spectrum definition. It produces exceptional thermal clarity to highlight exactly where the problem is. MSX ensures easier target identification without compromising radiometric data. The quality of the thermal images is excellent, with almost no need for a separate digital image. With MSX, thermal images look sharper, the orientation of the target is done more quickly and the reports are clutter-free. Users can see the results of MSX technology directly on the touchscreen of the camera, in real time.
Another practical feature of the FLIR ONE Pro is the 1-fit connector. This allows users to adjust the camera’s fit, so they can use the attachment with thicker cell phone cases.
The FLIR MR40 moisture meter is my go-to option, primarily because it is so easy to use. Anyone can operate it easily, even if they have never used a moisture meter before. The portable, rugged moisture meter comes with an integrated flashlight. It is also small and tough, fitting easily in a pocket. I have used it in tight spaces and I have dropped it, and the meter remains accurate and incredibly reliable. It is affordable and a quick tool to find and quantify moisture content. When used in combination with a thermal camera, MR40 can help confirm whether a cold spot in a thermal image is moisture, and measure the severity of the problem. If it measures in the 20 percent range or above, it would be considered a problem. Below 10 percent it would not be considered a problem.
Other all in one imagers plus moisture meter options include the FLIR MR160 and the MR176. With these options there is no need to carry two separate pieces of equipment.
New technology provides contractors with peace of mind
Using the FLIR ONE Pro in combination with the FLIR MR40 moisture meter has made a big difference in my business. I look on them as tools like all the others that would be used on a job, but they are especially important in the initial phase of dealing with customers and quoting jobs. In the past unforeseen issues would arise that would bring higher costs. Now, contractors can virtually see the invisible, reducing unforeseen and unwelcome surprises often costing more money to repair.
As a contractor, the tools provide peace of mind, and also ensure the situation has been thoroughly examined. I never leave home without them.
By Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and host of DIY Network’s Desperate Landscape, Man Caves and Sledgehammer.