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5 Money-Saving Tips for Your AC : An Interview with David Rampey of Air Assurance

By David Rampey

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Air Assurance began in 1985 with Mike and Narissa Rampey, and I later joined in ownership in 2003. Today, we are proud to maintain one of the largest full service HVAC and Plumbing fleets in the Tulsa metropolitan area with over 75 team members.

Air Assurance specializes in residential and commercial plumbing and HVAC solutions including heating, air conditioning, indoor air quality, and geothermal service and installation. Air Assurance's philosophy is to provide the best possible service to its customers. Exceptional service and customer "wow" factor have been instrumental in their growth, and we will do everything possible to create positive experiences.

Although we sell the best heating, air-conditioning, and plumbing equipment available today, their greatest asset still remains their employees. we continually seek out the very best talent in the industry, people who understand the importance of customer relationships and what it means to offer exceptional customer service with true integrity.

Over the years, Air Assurance has received many awards including the ACCA National Contractor of the Year, Best of Tulsa, Best of Broken Arrow, and Best in Oklahoma along with Tulsa's Fastest 40 growing companies in 2011-2012. We have been recognized by Lennox as one of their top 1% of dealers in North America the last 4 years. Air Assurance was the first contractor in the nation to provide their customers with an all-NATE certified (highest qualifying certification) technician staff. This means, when we send a technician to your home, you can count on safe, effective, and efficient service and installations of today's most sophisticated heating, air conditioning, and plumbing equipment.

Air Assurance is also highly active within the community. We serve, or have served on boards for the Local Chamber of Commerces, Broken Arrow Civilians, Broken Arrow Rotary Club, Leadership Broken Arrow, Broken Arrow Economic Development Corporation, and many other charitable and civic organizations.

What is something that most homeowners don't know about their air conditioning system and energy use that they should know?

There are many things that most people may not know about their heating and air conditioning system. Since it's usually something no one ever thinks about until it's broken, often times no one considers their air conditioning/ heating system as a major asset until it's too late. So what are some things to think about? 1. Keeping your system maintained (changing filters, cleaning the outdoor/indoor unit, and checking its built in safeties) can prevent most breakdowns. Lack of maintenance is a surefire way to decrease the life of the system and increase the operational costs month to month. No different than your car that needs to have the tires checked, oil changed, fluids checked, etc to stay on the road for many miles and better gas mileage, so does your heating and air system. And since it could be the largest investment within your home to replace, it's certainly worth having a professional service it regularly. 2. There is no other single thing within your home responsible for more energy usage than your heating/cooling system. Most new systems can operate at less than half the cost of the old system that may still be hanging on. 3. Ductwork can be the single largest component within that system that can cause bills and allergies to climb! If ducts are not sealed, you could be cooling/heating your attic or crawl space, or drawing in air from those areas which can cause other problems as well. Many people think allergies are from outside, but the EPA estimates indoor air quality can be up to 2-5 times worse than outside. Ductwork must be the right size, sealed properly, and designed correctly to get the most out of your comfort system.

Can you briefly explain what some of the most common AC mistakes are?

The most common problem is neglect. Whether that's by not having it maintained, or if its as simple as allowing weeds, bushes, pets or grass clippings etc to overtake the outdoor unit, the unit needs to be clean and tuned to run properly. Outside of that, probably not changing filters regularly enough, or buying and installing the wrong kind of filters. Buy too cheap and you don't get any air cleaning benefit which harms your equipment and decreases the air quality within the home. Buy the most expensive in hopes of better air quality, and you get too much restriction, therefore hurting your efficiency and causing problems within the system to occur.

What are some of the basic steps to properly sizing, designing and installing air conditioning?

Your contractor should perform a load calculation. This is a scientific method that calculates how much heating/cooling your home needs based upon insulation values, windows, doors, how many levels, roofing material, attic space or crawl space, etc.. By not doing this, you're only guessing, and most contractors just replace what was there, or go larger because homeowner requests a "bigger" system. Remember, your ductwork must be capable of handling the "upsize", and many times, the reason the system couldn't perform was because the ductwork was not sized or sealed correctly to begin with. Most installations only achieve 57% of their designed capacity so It's extremely important to find a contractor who understands that it's not just a box, but a comfort system and can achieve a level of performance that you are paying for. I also recommend to have a third party test in and test out to make sure your system is operating at an improved level. Currently, Public Service Company of Oklahoma offers several rebate programs designed to ensure the best energy efficiency in all these areas, and by doing so you can save some serious green!

Ideally, how often should an AC system be maintained and what does that involve?

You should at least service the air conditioning system once per year, as well as servicing the furnace once per year. For the air conditioner, service is primarily about efficiency and capacity. It must be able to breath in order for it to operate correctly. If dirt, debris, etc is inhibiting the flow of air across the air conditioner, your efficiency and ability to cool in the hottest times dramatically decrease. Therefore if you live in an area that has a lot of cottonwood trees, or maybe around or close to a construction zone, it may be necessary to clean it multiple times during the season it's used. For furnaces, it needs to be inspected yearly primarily due to efficiency and safety especially if it's a gas furnace. Because the heat exchangers have cold and hot air blowing across them throughout the year, these metal heat exchanger will expand and contract leaving the possibility to create a separation or crack in the metal. This can allow dangerous Carbon Monoxide to leak out into the air stream and infiltrate your home causing a potentially dangerous situation. Therefore, due to this threat, this should be checked by a professional with the right equipment to do so. Not all tuneups are created equally, and many contractors give this the "eyeball" test and simply diagnose safety on the color of the flame, or possibly a quick peak into the areas you can see easily. You need to have a technician that at least uses a carbon analyzer, a technologically advanced tool that leaves no question to your furnace safety.

What advice would you give to people in Tulsa who want to make their AC unit more energy efficient?

There is plenty of research easily available online that can explain further the importance of HVAC/Plumbing maintenance and replacement such as energy.gov, powerforwardwithpso.com, or certaincomfort.org. Of course it never hurts to ask multiple sources for referrals or experiences with service or replacement of their comfort systems in the past. Did their bills decrease? Look online at reviews, check with the better business bureau, etc. Get multiple estimates or make several calls and ask plenty of questions from different contractors. The good ones will be glad to help answer any questions and do so with intelligence.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

You can call Air Assurance at 918-258-COOL(2665) or visit our website at www.airassurance.com

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