Luckily, the human body is well equipped to cope with the rigors of living high in the mountains, where oxygen is scarcer than at lower climes.
The appliances found in high-altitude homes, on the other hand, are not inherently designed to adjust to living at nearly 10,000 feet. That’s where the associates at Rocky Mountain Energy Conservation come in.
The problem, they say, is simple: Most gas appliances are designed to function at sea level, not in geographic regions where oxygen is less concentrated. Appliances thus work ineffectually, leading to incomplete combustion and starting a domino effect of other issues. Appliances that don’t burn efficiently end up wasting more natural gas or propane, thus wasting homeowner money while squandering away natural resources. Inefficient function can shorten the life span of an appliance, while incomplete combustion can lead to high and even dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
RMEC founder John Matsko recognized all of these problems, working as a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning specialist for the last three decades, most recently based out of Silverton. He discovered that through a series of diagnostic systems and readjustments, he could help his friends and neighbors save money on their monthly energy bills – all by adjusting appliances to work better in places where the air is thin.
According to Matsko, the RMEC process is all about physics. “You mix the correct amount of gas with the correct amount of air, and what you’ve done is optimized that appliance,” he says. “By burning less gas while producing a hotter flame, you’re saving not only gas but money.
Tyler Wheelock, a RMEC technician specialist based out of Telluride, explains the RMEC process as a chain of formulas and calculations that, in the end, can help home and business owners do more than just save a few bucks on their gas bill every month. He has optimized appliances in Telluride, Durango, Flagstaff, and elsewhere, and in some cases has helped uncover extremely poorly operating appliances that would likely be considered health hazards.
He recalls a restaurant in Durango where he detected the oven’s non-burned gas output to be over 3,000 ppm; more than five ppm is considered a hazard.
“Lots of ovens I’ve put meters on in homes and business around here have read 100, 200 ppm or more,” Wheelock says. “Those are people who are unknowingly living with low doses of carbon monoxide all the time.”
While the majority of homes and businesses that RMEC has worked in do not register dangerously high carbon monoxide levels, since the company’s launch last April an estimated 75 to 80 percent of their clients have benefitted from a RMEC overhaul. Jeffrey Fasolo – a longtime local, Faz & Associates founder, and owner of Mountain West Stone and Tile Importers – is RMEC’s marketing advisor.
He explains: “This is sexy. It’s green, it’s logical. I’m involved because there are so many positive things to promote about this technology.” In his own home, Fasolo has experienced a significant reduction in energy costs since RMEC optimized his appliances last spring. He notes that the more inefficiently an appliance is operating, the more noticeable a RMEC optimization will be. “Generally, if somebody’s appliances are off enough to get an adjustment, they should see a return on their investment within the first year,” he says, although there are some appliances where adjustment is not an option.
Local business owner Lucas Price, proprietor of the ever-busy restaurant La Cocina de Luz, has reported significant results in his commercial kitchen following a Matsko optimization.
Matsko evaluated and readjusted every burner, grill, and oven in the La Cocina kitchen last May, offering Price a free lesson in energy conservation at the same time. “What was happening was that these appliances weren’t adjusted to this specific altitude to begin with, and then with all the wear and tear, I had ended up with a lot of appliances that were off-gassing – gas that wasn’t even being burned. That’s bad for the environment, and bad for the health of the people working in the kitchen,” Price says.
Over the course of the next three months, Price was pleasantly surprised to find that his energy bills went down from anywhere between 20 and 40 percent. He has since hired RMEC to optimize the appliances at his Lawson Hill home.
“He’s something of a mad scientist,” Price says of Matsko. “He thinks he can save the world. And he probably could save this country billions in fuel.”
RMEC offers free estimates; for more information visit www.rockymountainenergyconservation.com or call Matsko at 970/ 417-9648 or Wheelock at 970/946-8437.