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Title: PresidentCompany: Lorenz Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., 1429 N. Cedarbrook Ave.Education: Polino is a graduate of Hillcrest High School and a master plumber. Growing up in the business: Polino started working in plumbing at 15 and chose to stick with it after high school. He has worked at Lorenz Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning since 1988.Contact: mike@lorenzphac.com
Title: President
Company: Lorenz Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., 1429 N. Cedarbrook Ave.
Education: Polino is a graduate of Hillcrest High School and a master plumber.
Growing up in the business: Polino started working in plumbing at 15 and chose to stick with it after high school. He has worked at Lorenz Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning since 1988.
Contact: mike@lorenzphac.com

A Conversation With ... Mike Polino

Posted online
Tell us about your company.
It was founded in 1978. Lorenz is a residential and commercial new construction plumbing, heating and air company. We (work) on remodels as well, from tract housing on the residential side to spec housing and custom homes. On the commercial side, we (work in structures) from your standard office building to medium to large commercial (projects). We don’t do any industrial work. On the service side, we handle residential and commercial service, restaurants, duct cleaning and HVAC service change-outs.

Is business evenly split between residential and commercial?
No. Right now, we are much more commercial due to (housing) market conditions, probably 65 (percent).

What other challenges does Lorenz face?
Finding quality work force has been difficult. That’s probably because a lot of people went to other places and got retrained or moved and found other work.

Are your customers pursuing more efficient plumbing and HVAC systems?
People want to, but right now, cost is everything. People are really watching their money, just as we are as a business. The cost of being efficient has slowed (the shift) tremendously, and the tax credits going away have slowed it. … We have some customers who, all they care about is efficiency, and they can afford it. … And others will go as efficient as they can. Not everybody is just saying, “Give me the bare bones.” so we are seeing a little bit of (demand).

What advice do you have for business and homeowners who want to be more energy-efficient?
What I’ve always told people is that the three most important things in your home are your windows, your insulation and your HVAC. … If people are building a house and they put the highest-efficiency HVAC system in and buy cheap windows and insulation, they’re just kind of throwing their money literally out the window. It really starts with windows and insulation – and I really hate to say that from my standpoint – and then you need to think about your …  furnace and your air conditioner.

What about efficient water use?
Water heaters are becoming much more efficient now, so that’s starting to come into the picture more. But again, cost is a big part of that. If people have to choose, I tend to (encourage) them to choose the HVAC system, because that’s about 80 percent … of your utility costs, whereas hot-water heating is much (less expensive) and you can always change that later. … An easy tip is how long you take showers. The funny thing is, people buy these high-efficiency water heaters that have really high output, and they just take longer showers. I guess from a comfort standpoint, that’s great, because they get to do what they want, but they’re really not conserving anything.

What are some other simple conservation tips?
It just comes down to usage. What do you keep your thermostat set at? (Don’t keep) thermostats at 68 degrees and complain about utility bills. If they were (turned up) to 73 degrees, people would get used to it, and their bodies would acclimate. … Keeping your house at an average temperature is the best thing for it.

Do extreme temperatures, such as the recent temperatures of more than 100 degrees for several days, result in an uptick in service calls?
Yes, because their systems are running longer and running hotter. There are different climates in the United States, and we design systems on those climates. When you start reaching the upper side of that, not only do you have people complain (that systems aren’t) cooling property (but) on older systems, they have no cool-down time. They’re running continuously, and compressors get worn out, especially if they’re dirty or not maintained. People don’t understand that servicing your system does extend the life of it. The airflow across your air conditioner makes a difference. If it’s dirty, it’s struggling and it’s harder on the system, so you’re wearing it out quicker. A good tip for efficiency and saving energy is servicing your heating and air conditioning systems. … We like to do spring and fall (servicing), but it was tough this year, because … we went from cold to hot and had a very short window for spring maintenance.
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