Ken Webb, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Cleveland Utilities, said “The average residential customer will see a little over a 2 percent increase from last October to this October in the Cleveland Utilities customer service area.”
Experts say now is the perfect time to assess heating needs for the winter as warmer temperatures fade into frostier mornings. Checking and cleaning one’s central air and heating is considered an absolute must, especially when every penny counts and an efficient climate-control system is needed, regardless of economic conditions.
Elliot Johnson, co-owner of Air Express Air Conditioning Inc., and Advanced Building Diagnostics Testing Services, has been involved in the air-conditioning business for more than two decades.
His family-owned company installs new indoor comfort systems, offers replacements, repairs and upgrades of existing indoor comfort systems as well as provides whole-house dehumidification systems, duct system repairs, airflow testing, mold inspections, moisture and humidity monitoring and certified lab analysis.
According to Johnson, who attended the Florida Solar Energy Center for certification and was first licensed in 1993, if a home or building leaks a lot of air, a lot of money will be lost — something no one can afford in today’s tight economy.
“We can check for the tightness of a home or building to determine how much it leaks,” he said. “It’s called infiltration. We can pressurize or depressurize the place and measure how much air flows through the shell of the building. That tells us how well the building is going to perform as far as energy use, because the more air that leaks through it, the more it will cost you to heat and cool it.”
According to consumerreports.org, replacing central air conditioning equipment, especially components that are more than 15 years old, can result in energy savings. The website said, “Ensuring that system ducts are properly sealed and insulated is one of the most important improvements you can make,” but cautioned, “Installing equipment that is the correct size is essential for getting the best performance. Bigger isn’t always better — a system actually operates best when each component is properly sized.”
Johnson, a TVA Quality Network Contractor, agreed, stating, “If you put in real high efficiency air conditioning, but your house or building is poorly constructed and leaks a lot of air — you’re going to lose a lot of money. Your high performance, high efficiency air conditioner is not going to save you what you think.”
An analysis report can save thousands of dollars over a period of years, according to Johnson, whose business thrives on saving consumers money and extending comfort over a long period of time.
“Or motto is, ‘Your comfort is our business,” Johnson said. “Some people buy air conditioning like they buy refrigerators — like it’s something coming straight from a box. But air conditioning is not that way. You buy the equipment out of a box, but the duct system that goes with it is just as important. If you don’t put in the proper duct system along with the correct equipment, along with analyzing what’s going on with the house as far as insulation, you really can’t get the right kind of efficiency out of it.”
Johnson, an expert in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) technology, said many people fail to see the long-term benefits of a detailed analysis of their climate-control system “due to the up front cost instead of looking at the operation of the unit over 5 to 15 years.”
“If you have your duct system analyzed and your home or building analyzed for leaks — which the corrections could be as simple as sealing up the duct work and foaming up any holes in the place so that it doesn’t leak air — your payback on stopping those leaks is going to be really fast,” he said. “In two to three years you will have gotten your investment in your initial analysis back. Then in the next 3 to 15 years you will be saving and making money. It’s short-term cost versus long-term cost.”
Johnson, who was licensed in Tennessee in 2005, said, “Heating and air conditioning is your biggest consumers for any household. It costs the most. If your home is lacking good insulation, has an older climate control system and a leaky duct system — you can repair or replace that equipment and save thousands of dollars over time. If you’re going to sell your house you can show your light bills and if those light bills are significantly lower than the houses in your neighborhood of comparative size, that is going to make a big difference with a buyer.”
Born and raised in Antioch, Fla., a cozy town not unlike Cleveland, Johnson and his wife, Iris, decided to move to Bradley County with their teenage son, Eric.
“We’re from a very small town,” Johnson said. “We’re country folks. We like a small town. When we first visited here and started looking around in 2003, we felt that small-town charm. That’s the kind of place I was raised in.”
“The people are friendly — like the rural area we moved from,” Iris said. “We also love the natural beauty and the room in which to raise a child. Another deciding factor was the fact that people here still have a love for God’s Word and we wanted to be active in the preaching work. We’re hoping to build the same satisfied customer based here that we had in Florida.”
Johnson added, “We are a family-owned company with a down-to-earth business philosophy: Provide the best service possible at a fair price. We never forget that personal integrity and service are a priority.”
With more than 40 percent of the energy delivered to residential buildings being used for space heating and cooling, checking and cleaning one’s climate-control system is the easiest way to save money, according to Johnson, who describes his work as a blessing from God and his skills as a gift he enjoys using to help others.
“My job requires me to have skills in a lot of different trades,” Johnson said. “There is some plumbing involved, there is electrical invoIved. There is some design aspect to it. It’s very technical. The equipment is changing — becoming more computerized. I like all of that. It’s never boring. I love the science behind what I’m doing. If you’re going to know what you’re doing when it comes to heating and air conditioning, you have to understand the science behind it all — the building and what it takes to heat or cool that building — that changes how you’re going to install a climate control system.”
A Consumer Report at greenchoices.org. said in most households, heating and cooling account for the biggest single chunk of your energy bill. Choose energy-efficient furnaces or air conditioners that are the right size for your home. Properly insulate your home — especially the attic — including the duct system.
To contact Elliot Johnson, call 423-479-1649 or visit www.abd-services.