Not Sexy and Invisible

This Old House, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Review-Chapter One

Folks tend to look at the outside of something instead of the inside. It appears to be normal for the presentation of a house to be the main focus as opposed to looking down in the basement at the well placed, well thought out, and professionally installed HVAC system. In Richard Trethewey’s words, good installation of HVAC and plumbing “looks good or is nicely installed. But, not sexy.”

In this chapter of the book, the author states “comfort is invisible.” Everybody likes to fall in love with the beautiful architectural design or the winding staircase, but not many people get all excited about the efficient installation of a hot water heater. This is normal.

However, the writers want the reader to begin thinking about how the comfort of the family and guests is entirely dependent upon the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and not the fireplace that was installed for “romantic” reasons.

Within this chapter, the authors mention that America is still in its infant stage for building and contracting. Our European friends have more stability in this area and have been building efficient dwellings and buildings for centuries.

It is cited that Americans have been moving around a great deal since our inception. We have been a nation of nomads moving from border to border. Europeans may stay in the same dwelling for centuries as family dwellings tend to be passed down from generation to generation. The European will typically think of their dwelling as permanent and an American tends to think of a home as a temporary gratification of their need for shelter. When that shelter no longer fulfills expectations or circumstances require a move to another location, the shelter will be traded for another one.

As a final area of teaching in this chapter, the authors show that installation and construction in America has gradually become more precise in its compliance with codes that consider our dwindling natural resources. The chapter points out an increase in auditing procedures and ratings. This is about the time when energy efficiency and sustainability became important. All of this together, points to an increase in home quality along with a step up in quality of HVAC components.