Las vegas being unbearably hot for many during the day leads to a good business for the summer–repair of air conditioning systems.   This business is somewhat cyclical with unlimited demand on peak hot days and virtually no work on other days.  While the air conditioning business could rely on the weather as a predictor of work–those days may be over.

The financial crisis and subsequent high number of foreclosed homes in las vegas has destroyed any ability to predict work.  The market forces are being skewed by banks and government policy to maximize the money banks will receive.  Everybody knows that the banks are essentially underwater at today’s home prices and so they cannot afford to sell foreclosed homes.  This leaves many paying really high rents and many unwilling to invest.   As always the rich speculators and not ordinary people looking for a place to live will benefit from the misery.

In the wake of the home building collapse, the biggest company in las vegas air conditioning–Interstate–went into bankruptcy.  This left the market wide open, but the problem is no one knows what the market is anymore.   Government policies heavily influence whether people will buy or upgrade air conditioning through direct energy efficiency subsidies and indirectly by affecting the health of the market.

Many of the smaller air conditioning companies are on the verge of bankruptcy or will be filling for bankruptcy.

I for one look forward to retirement this summer and hope it will be a good year.  But all the signs are that the work will be sporadic and light.  There are hopeful signs too.

I see two two new companies rising from the ashes.   Las Vegas Air Conditioning Repair is looking to help the homeowner with affordable air conditioning repair services.    They only started late last year and were cobbled together by people laid off from AC companies that could not survive.

Another newer air conditioning company-Air Conditioning Las Vegas– is gambling on small business needs.   They focus on the air conditioning needs of small and mid-size businesses.   They also were cobbled together from down-sized air conditioning companies.

But on the whole, there are fewer air conditioning companies and the ones that exist are smaller.  The flip side of all this negativity is that the remaining air conditioning companies probably provide higher quality services and a faster turn around.   Although there is little any small air conditioning company can do about the rising cost of equipment, parts, and gasoline.

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Sustainable design for homes and businesses has become the right thing to do.   Twenty years ago, I don’t recall anyone getting graduate degrees in sustainable design.   In the 1980’s it was still common to throw aluminum in the garbage and rebates for energy efficiency upgrades were non-existent.   Now there are tax incentives and rebates for installing wind and solar energy generators.  One of the most common side businesses for HVAC repairmen is to simply plug air leaks and provide better insulation on ducting—energy upgrades reduces electricity bills for the homeowner, reduces toxic pollutants to our atmosphere, and lets us as a society more efficiently use resources for other essential needs.

I am amazed by the constant improvements in every aspect air conditioning design, construction, and installation. 

Compressors have become efficient and quieter.   These new compressors are often used on heat pumps and are advertised as scroll compressors.   I attached a link on youtube for how a scroll compressor works.  I think they are mind-boggling in design.  

Heat exchangers leverage the environment for greater efficiency.   In the old days, AC systems would try to put heat into a hot environment and the heat exchangers were often in direct sunlight.   I’ve seen systems that pump heat to groundwater or the subsurface for cooling homes, or vice versa for heating homes.    I’ve seen systems that pump excess heat from homes into a swimming pool.   All of this just seems to make sense. 

I suppose all this makes sense now because of the environmental/green movement.   I thought about this and think we have Al Gore, the USEPA, and China for all this.   Most people can figure out Al Gore (climate change noble prize winner) and the USEPA (mission).  But China?  

China because of their incredible growth has taken us very close to the edge of resource limited output.   In 2010, we demand for energy (for example oil) approached theoretical production capacity.   Basic materials such as fertilizers, concrete, iron, and copper have all grown faster than supply and we may not be able to produce enough with our current lifestyle expectations.

Somehow as a society we have begun mindset change in lifestyle.  Green is chic and sustainable growth may avert possible wars over oil and minerals.  

This environmental movement has impacted everyone’s world.  For my world, I need to learn about insulation, energy rebates, city and federal tax incentives, and sourcing the most energy efficient AC models.   But I think our evolution in lifestyle expectations will still undergo much change.

Air conditioning is a necessity in Las Vegas on some days.  But there are other times when it is a luxury.   Already residents shift their activity to cooler times of the day.  Perhaps this is why night life in Vegas is so great.   We also learn to turn up the thermostat and let our bodies adjust.  We can adjust our activities to include sitting in shady spots.  We can use shades to reflect the sun.   We could paint all of our roofs white as DOE suggested but this goes back to design and public perception—white reflective roofs for homes are not chic yet—but is a low-hanging fruit for saving energy and the environment.  Maybe if Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a white reflective roof, it will become the trendy thing to do.

I’ve been thinking about solar powered air conditioning but believe painting your roof white has better cost/benefit.   Solar panel construction and installation have an enormous environmental cost built in—but it’s just hidden.   Our rulers (life cycle analysis) are not sophisticated enough to show the consumer the best investment when it comes to being green.   Currently, wind power is the only green energy that is truly green by any measure and the cost/benefit to society is good.   As an air conditioning guy, I do not recommend solar powered AC systems yet.   I know some customers have huge tax incentives and in these cases there are quality solar powered AC systems if you have enough roof space.  

There are other aspects to AC that have changed.  Freon has become bad as most people know.   Freon is reclaimed by EPA certified reclaimers.    Manufacturers have gone to use chemicals that are similar to Freon but cause less environment damage.  Ultimately, the industry will go back to the original chemical—ammonia.   Currently, HCFCs are acceptable but in reality, they cause the same damage as the Freon they replaced.  Ammonia is everywhere and used for fertilizer, unfortunately, pure ammonia is dangerous.   But if safety engineering improves, ammonia technology may become universal for home air conditioners.

The EPA has created the “GreenChill” program which gets to greener forms of air conditioning.  This webpage is replete with event and webinars for green air conditioning.  You should check it out—being from Nevada, I don’t often recommend EPA for anything but I think they are doing something right here.

Life always has its ups and downs.  For the plumber its the hot chick saying hello on the strip followed by finding out she says hello for money.  It is Las Vegas after all.   For the environmentalist its about seeing all the new studies about PCBs in caulk (all that caulk plumbers and AC men used for years to seal cracks and joints to keep your home comfortable) only to find out once again EPA science lags behind its imagination.  For the record, PCBs were used in caulk until the late 1970’s but as with dioxins in clay pigeons (if your an environmental scientist you’ll understand this) that toxic chemicals that are not bioavailable or not really toxic.

I was think of other chemicals too we use to paint HVAC equipment to prevent corrosion.  There was an interesting article discussing corrosion of metals being significant for HVAC equipment that is difficult to do routine maintenance.  Have you ever noticed your outdoor air conditioning equipment with rust stains.  In the old days, we used paint with lead to protect our HVAC equipment, a guy at Ideal Service told me; since they are good at keeping their air conditioning equipment in good condition, I believe him.    I was talking with another guy at Silverfox who told me about the tin in paint they used on Navy ships.   This got into all sorts of exotic metals such as titanium, tantalum, and zirconium to prevent corrosion of heat exchangers for their air conditioning equipment.   I think Silverfox has some of the best professionals in the HVAC repair business.   The people they have really understand the engineering behind air conditioning for extreme conditions.

So all this brings me back to where I was a couple weeks ago about environmentally friendly refrigerants.   All that freon we used for so many years in air conditioning equipment has created a long-term environmental problem.  But I have faith that the scientists and engineers out there will continue to make air conditioning more environmentally friendly.  I have a lot of thoughts about this and what can be done and some of these ideas are what I tinker with at night.

I also want to write about all the corrosion resistant elements of heat pumps when they are used for heating swimming pools.  The summers in Las Vegas are hot enough that heaters are not needed but the engineering improvements with time are interesting.

Speaking of Summer, I know everybody in Las Vegas will soon be calling their friendly neighborhood air conditioning repair person.   I don’t like to recommend the competition but I am retiring soon, so I need to send the work to the younger AC repair men and women.   I was thinking of ordering some skirts for the repair-women if I can hire one.   For some reason, I only have guys and I’m still old-fashioned and cannot imagine using pants as an AC uniform for a lady.

Number One Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning, 2314 Western Ave, Las Vegas, NV  89102.   Phone: (702) 472-8050.   Email: info@numberonelv.com

Number One is good for AC because they are big and can usually work in small jobs quickly.  They also have good service and well qualified technicians.  They also do plumbing.

Silver Fox Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Heating.   2636 Westwood Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109.  Phone: (702) 472-8777.    Email: info@silverfoxlasvegas.com

Silver Fox Air Conditioning, Plumbing is good for repair jobs.  They like fixing problems.   They also have an attractive secretary who speaks with a heavy accent.  But even she likes to talk about air conditioning.   I think she has a night job nearby and is trying to make AC Repair her new career.   They are pretty clean-cut honest group that knows what they are doing.  They tend to focus on a few jobs at a time.

Ideal Services has one the prettiest webpages I’ve seen.   You can see they have about 20 young lads working there — all well trained and eager to make their way in the air conditioning field.   I think this guy tries to help disadvantage youth get a career and I like that about them.   I would say they will do you right for air conditioning repairs and the price will be fair.   I know they do plumbing too.

Las Vegas AC – Las Vegas Air Conditioning.  3324 S Highland Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109.  Phone:   (702) 518-9148.  Email:   Paul@Lasvegas.AC or Info@Lasvegas.AC

My motto is to call me last.   I like the most difficult problems and tend to charge less for the opportunity to work on them.   I will solve those problems that nobody else can.   I will tell you though that if the job is routine I will most likely refer the job to one of my friends.   I love giving air conditioning repair estimates and advice.  I live in the Las Vegas community and am always happy to make new friends.