Logo, Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling - Cooling Contractors
(413) 527-5812
29 Rattle Hill Road
Southampton, MA 01073

The Basics of Home Comfort

The goal of every installation I embark on is to create an assembly of equipment and components that will work seamlessly to deliver a comfort level that exceeds all expectations. The definition of comfort is something that is as unique to an individual as their own fingerprint. The HVAC design that serves your home should be treated as an important factor in your future lifestyle that should not be left in the hands of just any contractor.

We base our designs around what we call the "four factors of comfort":


1. Temperature

2. Humidification

3. Air Quality

4. De-humidification

Each factor must be addressed in a design to assure satisfactory conditions during all seasons. Adding the instruments to achieve these factors successfully is a feat that can only be performed by a seasoned HVAC specialist.  Our recommended mode of comfort delivery is what we refer to as hydro-air. This design blends the advantages of a ducted air system with the advantages of a boiler  (solar or geothermal also) based water design. This blend marries the advantages of both without missing the 4 factors in the design. The beauty of this configuration is that the design options are endless. We can offer solar, geothermal, conventional boilers, radiant, snowmelt, pool heating, ducted air conditioning, air quality, humidification, panel and towel heaters,and domestic hot water production. Try that trick with a warm air furnace!

The cost of fuel these days makes many demands on system designs. The very FIRST step is to provide the very best insulation the project can afford. Forget about fiberglass batts and look to the new generations of cellulose and spray foams. Sure they cost more now but with the cost of fuels and the ability to downsize my HVAC system, the pay back is more rapid than you may think.  Start with a quality building envelope and the long lasting comfort and efficiency of modern HVAC will be easier (and more affordable) to enjoy.

If a more basic design is needed - my recommended avenue would be a multi stage Carrier Infinity gas furnace and carrier Infinity heat pump.  This is commonly referred to as "hybrid heat" because it combines a furnace and heat pump, allowing the controls to cycle on the heat pump as the outdoor conditions favor its operation. When it is too cold for the heat pump, the furnace clicks on and heats the home. In the summer cooling months, the heat pump reverses and acts as a home AC system.  This is as "green" as a basic system can get without going to geothermal for the heat pump operation.  Carrier has an amazing line of components for these applications.  The best components ( the one that made me jump from Trane to Carrier) is the Infinity control system. There is absolutely nothing like this device in the field of residential HVAC.  It is very easy for homeowners to use- almost operates by itself!  It provides me with an immense amount of system data including past fault history, fan speed, current status,  filter condition, airflow...   A real life saver when troubleshooting an issue.

Alternative energy options: what makes sense??


I must field 10 calls a week for clients looking for the next best thing to replace fossil fuel systems. Geothermal, solar, pellet boilers, outdoor wood boilers- where is the trend going?  My answer is always- it depends on your home's dynamics and your project budget.  I have to say- somewhere out there someone has convinced people that geothermal makes sense everywhere and is a cost effective replacement for anything!  Sorry- I strongly believe in the principal- ONLY if it makes sense for the given project application.  If you own an older, poorly insulated home- forget it. The pay back will never come. There are better avenues to follow that will offer "green" value and cost effectiveness. The same can be said for solar ( thermal and PV) - It doesn't suit every home or situation and pay backs are often VERY long. There was a study done recently in Hadley MA by an engineering firm from New Haven CT. They were brought in to provide an outside cost analysis of a solar hot water system installed in a new energy crafted type home.  Scenario is a family of 4 with 2 panels on the roof... your basic solar design. Ready for this?  The projected pay back for the system was 56 years!  WOW- the equipment may last 30 years , what do you do for the last 26?

You have to be careful with this green technology push. Companies open every day that push PV, solar hot water, geothermal...  as their ONLY industry to make a living. Of course they will try to convince you they have the best mouse trap ( they only have one trap design) because no sale means no business.  Quality HVAC contractors have a quiver full of arrows to launch at a target- providing the BEST design for your application.  Their experience should be used to lead you down the best path to serve your budget, comfort, efficiency, and green approach.  That variety is one of the features that makes residential heating and cooling such an amazing field of study.  Every project is an opportunity to create a unique design to improve someone's lifestyle in one way or another!

Do your research- all HVAC contractors are NOT created equal- just take a peek at my "hall of shame" in the photo gallery to see how bad it can get!


Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling has been presented with two national design / installation  awards this past year!  A third place award in the 1st annual "Green Mechanical AWards"  and most recently, a Contracting Business magazine "Quality Home Comfort Award" for an amazing Post and beam residence in Worthington Mass. This is the 8th first place award in the past 10 years. If you are in the market for quality- you are at the right place!!