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Lansing All Star - HVAC regulations and the planet

HVAC versus the Planet (or why your furnace is going to cost a lot more next year)

In todays City Pulse for your consideration:

The same people that hate my ads, and say I shouldn’t mix business with personal feelings, will buy from “MyPillow” for the same type of reason that folks call us. But they are blind to their own hypocris. Some of you who have met me may have heard me say this before, but I will say it for the rest of you. I used to be a bad date because all I talked about was HVAC. Nobody really wants to talk about my talking thermostat but me, LOL. I often wondered if people wished I had stayed home, or if they were just being polite and entertaining me by listening to me talk about my business. I am joking, really, but I did probably talk shop a little too much. Now I think I am a bad date because almost all I talk about is social injustice and politics. There just came a point that I realized there were things more important than HVAC, and I can’t separate the two. I get a mix of calls every week and sometimes those calls inspire what | will write about.

This piece is a bit of a mix between calls I have received and something I have been thinking about for a while. In the past few years, it has become more apparent to me than ever that there are similarities between the systemic failures in our society and the industry I am in. Some people weren’t born when the speed limit was 55 mph. Nobody alive was around when travel was by horse and buggy, which traveled a max of 8-10 miles an hour (unless you were running away from outlaws). I think 55 mph is a huge improvement from 8-10 and it seems to me that knowing what we know now about not only the cost of gas while going 55 mph vs. 75 or more, but the minimal amount of time it saves by increasing your speed over 55, that going 75 is just usually not worth it. It’s clear that driving 55 mph vs. 75 will save significantly on the amount of gas used to go the same distance. So why did we raise the speed limit? Certainly, there is an arqument about getting somewhere faster. But I bet it had less to do with that and more to do with some lobbyist somewhere, who worked for the big oil companies, and saw dollar signs by selling massively more amounts of gas if everyone drove faster. An example of something similar in my industry is … tape. Yes, tape. The last time we had a code update, it was mandated that we tape every single joint in a home’s duct svstem to prevent air from escaping the system before it reached its termination at a heat register in a bedroom, bathroom. kitchen. etc. Now in the arand scheme of things, this isn’t a bad idea. But at the same time, unless vour ductwork is on the exterior of a building (like a roof, or a slab outside), then losing airflow inside the home doesn’t seem so significant since it is still within the structure.

So why did we suddenly have to start taping all our duct joints? My suspicion is the same as above. Somebody in the lobby industry had a friend who owned a factory that makes tape, and that guy said, “Hey, I need to sell more tape.” Then he slipped a couple bills to his lobbyist buddy and they put it into the code as a mandate and … voilà! I’m sure someone is going to call me crazy, but it’s probably not as crazy as what we see on a daily basis lately. But here’s what’s really crazy. We are regulating tape, but you know what we aren’t regulating? We aren’t regulating installing properly sized equipment. I gave out a quote back in March to install a furnace and AC. I explained what I was offering, how it would work and the benefits they would get. Time went by and I never heard anything back until July, when they called and asked if the quote was still good for the AC. I didn’t initially recognize the name for certain, but after going back and looking at the file, I figured they must’ve already had the furnace replaced by someone else and now they just needed the AC. After confirming this, I inspected the work that was done and determined that the furnace was oversized. I don’t want to get too technical, but fortunately (or unfortunately for them), it was a two-stage furnace. I could eliminate the high stage of heat and the furnace would only run on its lowest stage, because the low stage was enough output to heat the home throughout the winter. If it had been a single stage furnace, I could not have done that. But the bigger issue was that I would have to install AC on the furnace and, by having an oversized furnace, it changed the specs of what I originally quoted. In addition to that, since the install was really done poorly, I would have to make some adjustments with the work that they already paid someone else to do. It gets complicated honestly, but in this instance, I was able to provide them with a finished product that will give them years of comfort and peace of mind. It is just unfortunate that in today’s world, there are still companies that are selling equipment that will never get the efficiency it is rated at. An oversized furnace is like a car driving in the city every day, when your furnace (especially a two-stage furnace), should be getting highway mileage all of the time (and not at the 75-mph speed, but the55). So, they are regulating tape, which has minimal if any impact on the efficiency. But they are not regulating the sizing of equipment, which has a significant impact not only on the efficiency of that system, but on the grid as whole.

In 1987 The Montreal Protocol was enacted, which phased out HCFC refrigerant R22 because it contained chlorine, which is a greenhouse gas that was depleting the ozone and contributing to global warming. As of 2010, it is no longer legal to import it or manufacture it in the United States. That is not a bad thing, although many contractors preferred it because of its cooling capacity and that it was very forgiving to the poor installation practices used by too many. Then R410A was introduced, an HFC and another man-made organic compound blend that was described as “environmentally friendly” and was the future of HVAC. Well, guess what? That was a lie with a bow tie on it. It doesn’t contain chlorine, but it still pollutes the planet and is now being phased out too. Starting in 2024, the industry is coming out with another refrigerant to replace R410A and it is called R454B. Is it environmentally friendly? Not exactly, because they will have to replace it with something else by 2030. Oh, and get this: R454B is flammable. That’s right, it is flammable.

You know why these refrigerants are hurting the planet? Leaks. The systems in your house are never supposed to require added refrigerant. They are hermetically sealed and should never need refrigerant after the initial installation. The new systems are going to have a flammable refrigerant in them, which is also harmful to the environment, even if it doesn’t catch fire. They will have to build in leak sensors to shut the units down when a leak is detected to keep it diluted by utilizing the fan to spread it out into less concentrated amounts, to prevent it from igniting. Sounds great, huh? We need contractors to do a better job of installing so we have less leaks, and we need manufacturers to make equipment out of material that is less likely to leak and have equipment that checks for leaks before the product leaves their plants. Leaks happen, unfortunately, but much of the problem could be avoided if we just didn’t put the dollar ahead of everything else, because that is what this is all about, really: Work faster, use cheaper material and make more money.

But I digress … manufacturers are now mandated to make this switch next year, and they must redesign all their equipment to comply. The equipment will have new circuitry, will work under different pressures, and will require specialty tools to be installed. All the costs for research and development will be passed down to you; all the costs to retool and redesign their assembly lines will be passed down to you; and all the costs for contractors to outfit their staff with the proper tools will be passed down to you. Everyone will make more money by manufacturing something that will just be replaced again in a few years, and even then, it will probably be just a temporary fix. I don’t believe that everyone involved in these decisions is conspiring to make ill-gotten money.But there are too man solutions we could be looking at that don’t end with the taxpayers paying the bulk of the bill just to do it all over again in a few years, especially when there are people who already can’t afford their utility bills, let alone buying more expensive new equipment. And I am not saying we shouldn’t do anything; I am just saying there are other solutions out there that would be easier to implement and have greater impact without hurting people who are already struggling just to survive.

Then there is the conversation about heat pumps, that I have been having with folks for far too long but has become more popular since we enacted the infrastructure bill. Again, I am glad to see us doing something to address global warming, but we must be smart about it. While there may be some circumstances where a heat pump makes sense in Michigan, most situations are not a good fit. If you use fuel oil, I think a heat pump might be a good fit. If you have solar and are creating enough energy to sell back to your utility company, then that is a good fit. If you don’t have propane or natural gas where you live, then again, it is a good option. But for the rest of vou who can’t afford to install solar, and instead have natural gas, you don’t need or want a heat pump. Heat pumps use electricity to heat your home with an air exchanger and coils, and many can’t heat down to Michigan’s average low temperatures without a backup heat strip. How do they make electricity that is delivered to vour house? They burn natural aas at the power plant. So, either way, unless you are making your own energy through solar; you are de facto burning natural gas.

Heat pumps are also your AC, with a reversing valve. So, if the AC lifespan is 15-20 years, the lifespan of a heat pump is going to be less. It will be used at least three times more than a straight AC, because it will be heating somewhere between 6-8 months a year and cooling 3 months a year. Don’t get me started on how much more service you are likely going to have to do on a heat pump. They get used more; they have more parts, which means more potential problems; and let’s be clear, a bad installation of a heat pump is going to end up costing more than you can afford. Until we come up with solutions that are a good fit, I hope people don’t learn the hard way. If contractors aren’t sizing furnaces properly, they are likely not sizing heat pumps properly. That, in and of itself, is a problem as well. There are regions where heat pumps are viable, but in Michigan, not so much. We should be trying to get away from fossil fuels, but if the electricity is being made with fossil fuels to begin with, then we really aren’t getting away from fossil fuels at all. I know people are at the drawing board somewhere working on solutions, so hopefully someone comes up with something that makes better sense. I am doing my part by sizing equipment closely, which is having an impact on everyone who we’ve been fortunate enough to help. In the beginning of 2022, I called my supplier and asked him how many 40,000 BTU furnaces we purchased in 2021. A 40,000 BTU furnace is the smallest residential furnace made. He said 45. | asked how many the company sold in all their Michigan branches, which includes Grand Rapids and Detroit. He said the company sold 85 in the state. So, I bought over half of the 40,000 BTU furnaces that the distributor sold as a whole? In little old Lansing, Michigan? A small company like All Star Mechanical bought more than half of these furnaces? Is it because we do only tiny houses? No. We are doing the same houses everyone else does. It boils down to complacency. This is what they have always done. The manufacturers produced better products and contractors clutched onto their old ways. Salesmen adopted tactics, instead of evolving, and the consumer is the one who pays for it.

Next year, it is going to be significantly more expensive to replace your home’s HVAC system due to the changes. If you have the means to do it this year, I highly recommend it. We are going to offer 10% off the installation of an furnace and AC if you schedule a consultation in the month of September.

Should you clean your ducts?

Larry from All Star Mechanical Heating & Cooling talks about indoor air quality in this short video. Do you need to clean your ducts? How old is your home? Older homes have had air zooming through those ducts for 30, 40 or 50 years – and furnace filters can only do so much. What’s lurking in your ducts? Dust, sure. But is there more? Bacteria. Insects. Rodent droppings? These things can cause illness in people with health issues. Cleaning your ducts means that the furnace filter can do it’s job better – and you can breathe easier.

Should you turn down your thermostat to save money?

Should you turn your thermostat down to save money? In the past, this was true – furnaces were huge and inefficient. But today’s modern furnaces, that are sized correctly, work efficiently at maintaining the temperature in your home. Natural gas now is so cheap (by comparison) that you won’t notice a change in your energy consumption or costs by turning your thermostat down.

Maintain a comfortable temperature and let your modern furnace do the work it’s designed to do!

The All Star Mechanical Story: HVAC with a side of social justice. Why we do what we do and why we talk about the hard things

Some of you may have heard this story before, but I’ve never posted it here. I started this business in 2007, and I thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, I was good, but I didn’t realize how much I had yet to learn, but I did. The part that was most surprising was how much I had to unlearn. I took the advice of some people who genuinely wanted me to succeed, and eventually it has paid off.

After the first few years of struggling to implement better practices, I started to really gain confidence and see how much of a difference it made. I started to really feel like all the years of working for someone else, that they were really just about profit and not about doing the best work. My head swelled.

I think I was a bad date, because all I ever talked about was HVAC. We’d be out to dinner with family or friends, and all I could talk about was air conditioning, or thermostats, or furnaces, yada yada. So much so, that I often wondered if everyone at the table was secretly asking my wife to shut me up already. I’m sure I’m exaggerating a little bit, I do have other interests, but I was floating on the HVAC cloud because I loved it so much.

I always envied my wife from the time I met her. She had drive, passion, and could command the attention in a room, and hold a conversation with anyone. She had a major in anthropology/paleontology with a minor in religion. She was on the watch list when President Reagan visited her grade school because she wrote a letter to the White House about his policies. She got her school to stop using styrofoam in the lunch room. I told her that I felt like I was missing something in my life, I wanted what she had. I just didn’t know what it was. But as much as I loved HVAC, that wasn’t it.

Fast forward, and things have taken a shift for me personally. As much as I talked about HVAC then, I now have a new passion. And it all started in 2012. The killing of Trayvon Martin was so sad, as I had children close in age. I imagined how that must feel as a parent. The killing was bad enough, but it was what happened afterward. A lot of people were defending George Zimmerman and villainizing Trayvon. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was the first time that I can remember thinking that something was truly wrong. After that, I started noticing more and more instances that I couldn’t accept. From Mike Brown, to Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and Botham Jean. I started to speak. I attended my first Black Lives Matter rally, and made my first public post on this page showing my support and calling on other business owners to publicly speak. But when Colin Kaepernick took a knee, he inspired me to do more. I watched him explain the reasons and one of my first thoughts was that, here’s a guy on the biggest stage knowingly sacrificing his career, and if he can do that, than I can do more. He was respectful, he was honest, and he was courageous. He knew that his actions would be met with swift whitelash. I began to seek out ways to learn more, so that when I engage, I’d be able to do so with resources and examples from history, distant and not so distant. But honestly, it’s pretty plain, I really only needed what I’ve seen with my own eyes. The double standards are truly glaring, unless you just refuse to see it.

So now, I’m equally a bad date, because going out to dinner can sometimes be dramatic. Now I often wonder if everyone is saying to themselves or secretly asking my wife to not bring me to dinner because they don’t want to hear anything more about injustices. I’m fortunately surrounded by people who mostly agree with my opinions, but that doesn’t mean they want to talk about it. It’s obviously not a fun conversation.

My wife still inspires me, and as much as I’d like my life’s mission to be one with more sunshine and sparkles, the path I’m on in one of love, and there couldn’t be anything better than a path rooted in something everyone has in common; the desire to belong, and feel loved.

So, if you’re here for the HVAC, we’ll be ready when you need us. If you’re here for the social justice, I’m not going anywhere. It took me a while, so I’m just hoping that I can convince others of the truth before they get into their 40’s like it took me. The youth are the ones who will lead us to the future, which will hopefully be full of the change we need. Tomorrow is too late, we need everyone today.

Oversized residential furnace and air conditioning is not a good investment

How is HVAC similar to American culture and society? Well, the first image is of a furnace that’s approximately 10 years old. And now it is heading to a landfill. It was oversized, and it never achieved the efficiency that it was engineered and manufactured to be. 10 years ago, some salesman, dressed in slacks and and a button up collared shirt sold this as a high efficiency furnace. Then they sent a guy like me out to install it. When you work for a company like this one, (I did work for that company almost 20 years ago) we do what we are told. When you just do what you are told, you develop habits, and you also form ideas and opinions, as well as gaining confidence and practices. You don’t question anything.

When I started All Star in 2007, I only knew what I was taught. I quickly learned that there was more that I didn’t know, than there was that I did know. It never occurred to me that as an employee, that I wasn’t being given the best information, or that we weren’t doing things to the highest standards. I had to unlearn what was taught and I started to figure out was that most people don’t do that. The status quo is to keep doing what you’ve always done because on the surface, everything is working.

The problem with oversizing equipment is that, for starters, a lot of people purchasing equipment never get the desired efficiency, which ends up costing more because it uses more fuel than it should. Not only that, but it puts more wear and tear on the equipment because it will start and stop frequently. It’s kind of like a high traffic door vs a door that rarely opens or closes. The high traffic door will need to be replaced much sooner than the door that stays closed. So this furnace at 10 years old, used much more fuel, and it opened and closed so much, that it didn’t last.

American culture has dictated that bigger is better. Bigger trucks, bigger homes, bigger bank accounts, heck why not, bigger furnace.

I have been in the practice of installing smaller equipment since 2007. I’m installing equipment that replaces the heat closer to the rate that the home is losing it on the average coldest day of the year, to be able to maintain a desired temperature, or equipment that is removing heat close to the rate it’s gaining on the average hottest days of the year. Not only will you get better efficiency, but you’ll put less wear and tear on the units, they’ll last longer, you’ll have less repairs, and you’ll get much better comfort.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve made a huge difference in comfort, particularly with 2 story homes that have staggering temperature differences between the 1st and 2nd floors with smaller equipment. But the challenge is that before we were able to do that, we had to convince the people living there. Getting multiple bids has always been encouraged when you are spending thousands of dollars. The problem is that it’s not always apples to apples, ESPECIALLY in the heating and cooling business, particularly in Lansing, MI.

Let’s say you get 4 quotes, and 3 of them are from local, we’ll known companies, and the 4th is from All Star. You tell everyone that the 2nd floor is much hotter in the summer than the 1st floor. Logic says the AC is t big enough, so the other 3 companies have already said they be willing to put in a larger unit, but Larry from All Star comes out of left field and says he wants to put in a smaller unit. Well that just sounds crazy. Larry must be wrong. These other 3 companies with a combined experience of 150 years vs Larry and All Star with 15. There’s no way Larry can be right.

I get it, that’s a tough call. You either trust Larry or you don’t. But after an explanation that describes exactly why it will work better, you’ll at least have a chance to understand why it will work better.

We’ve been conditioned to accept that bigger is better. The funny thing is that the second picture is much smaller equipment than the first. The company that installed the equipment in the first picture also gave a quote for replacing equipment they installed 10 years ago. They also have a gimmick of BOGO, buy a furnace and get a free air conditioner. But only after they Jack up the price of the furnace. And they quoted bigger equipment too boot.

American capitalism is an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum.

We’ll just keep doing what has made us the best residential HVAC company in Lansing. We actually have your best interests in mind.

75 years ago, we built things to last forever. Contractors were comparable acrossed the board. You could take a dart and throw it at the phone book and almost 10 out of 10 times you’d get a quality contractor. Now, you’d be hard pressed to get it 2 out of 10 times. Marketing has become more about making the company rich, and truly nothing about the consumer, accept to get your attention. Apparently it is doing exactly what it was designed to do. And that doesn’t bode well for the people.

If other HVAC companies were doing what I am doing, that would make it a level playing field. My job is harder than theirs because they are making it harder for me, but it only works for them because we are a small company, so the few jobs we take from them are not hurting their pockets. But we are growing, slowly. It may take a decade for us to impact their bottom line, but it’s the only way. We will not sacrifice our standards and sell the consumer short

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Lansing All Star Mechanical

All Star Mechanical

Residential HVAC company. Referral based business providing the type of service you should expect. Making decisions based upon a flawless experience. A Company with a Conscience, truly keeping your interests first, above even our own.
All Star Mechanical
All Star Mechanical6 hours ago
When Greta Thunberg was fifteen, she was supposed to be in school learning to become a good little consumer of planetary resources. Instead, she was protesting the lack of action on climate change outside Swedish Parliament. And hordes of pasty penis-possessors from o’er the land collectively fudged their undergarments and unleashed the ALL CAPS fury, screeching like howler monkeys on a meth bender.

--On This Day in History Shit Went Down: September 23, 2019--

Born in Stockholm in 2003, by the age of eight Greta became obsessed over so little being done about an issue critical to the fate of humanity. In the spring of 2018, she won a climate change essay prize hosted by a Swedish newspaper, writing, “I want to feel safe. How can I feel safe when I know we are in the greatest crisis in human history?” Greta tried to organize a school strike, but when she couldn’t get any takers, went ahead and did it by herself.

The following August, after Sweden experienced the hottest summer in 262 years resulting in massive wildfires, Greta launched her protest. Rather than return to school, she protested alone outside Parliament each day until the September 9 elections, often in the rain, demanding her government follow the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions. On the first day, she posted a photo of her campaign on social media and the internet responded, sharing it widely.

After the election she returned to school but continued to protest every Friday. She soon began attending demonstrations and speaking publicly across Europe while mobilizing her rapidly growing social media following to take action. At Greta’s urging, over 20,000 students held similar climate protests in hundreds of cities around the world that December. The following spring, The Guardian wrote about “The Greta Thunberg Effect” and the young Swede made the cover of Time magazine as a “Next Generation Leader.” Later that summer, she sailed across the Atlantic in a much-publicized carbon-neutral voyage to New York. The following month, on September 23, 2019, she addressed the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, yet I’m one of the lucky ones,” she spoke to them. “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing.” Holding back tears, she chastised world leaders for embracing “fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” Toward the end she stabbed at them: “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.”

“How dare you?” she said to them. Four times during her four-and-a-half-minute speech she asked the same question about their lack of action: “How dare you?”

In the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, to dozens of heads of state, business leaders, and senior representatives of civil society, Greta repeated those three words while being broadcast on live television to the world.

“How dare you?”

All Star Mechanical
All Star Mechanical2 days ago
Holy crap, this room just got waaay bigger. I swear, what we do can’t even be imitated, let alone duplicated. The guys really are setting the bar about as high as it can go. 🔥🤩🤯
All Star Mechanical
All Star Mechanical2 days ago