Wenzel Goes Green
Home & Yard Blvd. Section
These days, terms like “carbon footprint” are as fashionable as a pair of Mezlan Chets. But to Dan Miller, Vice President of Wenzel Heating and Air Conditioning, such jargon is increasingly part of his daily work. Specifically, the word “green” is becoming as common as mercury and mufflers—and such green isn’t a paint color.
Miller remembers when he first heard it applied to the fiefdom of Heating and Air Conditioning, nearly two years ago: “We did a couple of commercial buildings in 2006 that were green.”
But that was just the humblest of beginnings. Currently, a large—and growing—percentage of Miller’s labors are colored green.
“I’m working on a condo building right now in St. Paul where they want to do 134 condos that are all newly constructed and green,” Miller reports.
And what constitutes this particular shade of green?
“A green home is supposed to use less energy, less water, and fewer natural resources,” Miller explains. “You’re supposed to have a healthier, more comfortable environment for the people living inside.”
It turns out that green buildings adhere to a pretty strict code of criteria—namely, those of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Developed by the United States Green Building Council, this checklist has flowered into a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.
Miller works to make those standards a common reality, as he reveals, “My part of the green building a lot of times is the exhaust—the bathroom exhaust system, the furnaces, the air conditioning. And now, they look at indoor air quality, which means a filtering system.”
According to Miller, the most common mistake made by clients: “If they’re remodeling or building a new home, they don’t talk with the sales professional that’s installing the stuff.”
Simple communication between customer and contractor, negotiating the delicate balance between cost and option, invariably will save both parties long-run headaches.
Efficiency is the ultimate goal of the green home, and that planet-friendly potency can save clients green of an earthier stripe: cold, hard cash.
“The air conditioner has to be matched with the furnace to get the true efficiency,” Miller states. “For instance, if you have a top-of-the-line air conditioner in your house, you’ll need a top-dog furnace—the one that modulates up and down—to get the most efficiency out of it. The best thing to do is have your system run constantly, rather than switching on and off, which uses more energy.”
If a replaced system is 10 years old or older, the right combination of air conditioner and furnace can slash a household’s annual energy costs by nearly 60 percent.
But broad perceptions of the heating and cooling industry have not kept up with the quantum changes in technology.
Miller asks rhetorically, “How often will you buy a new computer? How often will you buy a new car? At least every five years. But when do you buy a new furnace? Only after something goes wrong. In the last eight years, technology has changed furnaces so much. Your computer works fine—it’s just slow, but you might replace it, anyway. And your furnace might run fine, but it’s not as efficient as it could be. If you want something with more efficiency, you’ll have to buy something a little bit better.”
Going green is ultimately a balancing act between hot and cold, form and function—all geared toward a specific result.
“My job,” Miller sums up, “is to sell you comfort.”
Wenzel Heating & Air Conditioning
4131 Old Sibley Memorial Hwy., Eagan