Ep 14: Infusing Some AI Into the HVAC Space


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Will smart AI tech finally invade our homes? I'm for it. That's one of the things that we'll be talking about today on everyday AI. Your Daily Livestream podcast and newsletter, helping everyday people like you and me understand what's going on in the ever changing world of AI and to actually use it. Today, we have a very special and unique guest that I think you all are going to love. We have Rob West, the regional sales director from Armstrong Fluid Technology. Rob, thank you so much for taking some time to join the show.

Rob [00:00:40]:

Thanks for having me. I appreciate you reaching out and having the opportunity to be on here.

Generative AI for Personalized Ads

Jordan [00:00:45]:

All right, let's do it. So first, before we jump into how smart tech may eventually invade our homes and bringing AI into our homes, let's talk about a couple of the big developments in AI news. So one of the first ones I'd love to talk about is Meta. So the Facebook parent company, they've announced that they're going to start using generative AI to essentially allow companies to run it'll be millions of tests to see what makes us click right, what's going to help them sell whatever that they're selling. So we won't even know that they're using this technology on us, I guess. But it's probably big for the ad industry. Rob, is it creepy? Is it cool? What do you think?

Rob [00:01:33]:

I've always had a more off opinion about it that when it's like, click this box for targeted ads. If I'm going to watch an ad anyways, it might as well be something I really like. I mean, you might as well pitch me something that is about me, whether I want to see it or not. If I have to see it, it might as well be about me. So I like more specific.

Jordan [00:01:52]:

I would say I'm here for that as well. Yeah, I'd rather get more relevant ads, even if it is a little creepy and too relevant. We'll see how that goes with Meta testing generative AI built into their ads tools. The second one, another generative AI story. So a story came out just about the company Rewind, and they're really making a splash. And a lot of generative AI companies are making a huge splash when it comes to raising money and their valuation. So a lot of venture capital companies and investors are just looking to invest in any companies that are really into this generative AI space. So that's just helping people create something with AI.

So real quick, Rewind as a company, I'd love to get the founder on the show FYI, but it essentially, again, talking about creepy. Rob. Like, they essentially record everything that goes on on your computer, regardless of what program. But then you can ask it anything that happened. Hey, that PDF from three weeks ago, that email from yesterday, that presentation from six months ago, and just talk to it. So this is in the way the economy is going right now. This article, which we'll link to in the Daily newsletter is saying that these generative AI companies are just being able to raise money at an insane rate. So, Rob, would you ever use something like that?

Organizing Your Work with AI

Rob [00:03:15]:

I need something like that. I have so many documents and PowerPoint and slideshows that I have on my computer. As you're saying this, I'm like, what does it cost? I go to look up something, I'm like, I feel like I used it yesterday and it's just gone. Where did I put it all like that. That's intriguing. I do like that.

Musicians are Using AI More Than We Think

Jordan [00:03:37]:

Probably one of the reasons they're already probably going to have a billion dollar valuation before even launching. So our third kind of big story of the day, actually an in depth article in Pitchfork. Again, we'll link this in the newsletter, but saying about how, hey, musicians are already using AI more often than we think we've talked about on the show before. Grimes, as an example, said, hey, we'll do a 50 50 split with anyone who does an AI generation of her music.

But this is saying this Pitchfork article is saying it's being used way more than we think it is. And the big companies are already starting to release these tools. I don't think people are using them a lot. So OpenAI has Jukebox Google just released Music LM so being able to take a little text prompt and being able to make a little song or at least a hook or a melody. Rob, where do you see this going? Is this going to take off or is this going to be kind of dead on arrival?

Rob [00:04:34]:

It's going to depend because, of course, as a musician, myself, as a drummer, I want to do everything myself. But there are plenty of times where we discuss where you get kind of stuck or if you're copying directly somebody else's song, but you don't mean to just because it's stuck in your head. I could definitely see that going in a good direction. That's something I'd like to see, where that ends up or how much it might be able to take over when we don't even realize in the first place.

At Home AI Market Will Grow to $500 Billion

Jordan [00:05:02]:

Yeah, apparently it's happening under our nose. Yeah, we'll see. So, speaking of under our nose, AI, at least according to this new Grand View research study, AI is going to be infiltrating our homes. So this new study said that the AI at home smart AI market is going to balloon to more than $500 billion by 2030, which is just a really jaw dropping amount and crazy growth. I do feel at least right now, like AI hasn't at least my home. Aside from a nest thermostat or something like that, I don't think AI has really made its way into the homes of the most everyday Americans. Rob, this is kind of your area. What do you see with AI smart homes? Is it going to catch on anytime soon?

Rob [00:06:02]:

I think it's on the manufacturers of equipment to understand the applications that you can actually use this for. You've heard me say before that energy efficiency is like the key word to the entire states right now is how can I be more efficient with my energy? And at the end of the day, aside from whether you like it or don't, I want to spend the least amount of money as possible to heat and cool my house. Right. And using an AI type system that can suggest and prompt you how to run your house properly. I actually looked up this morning just HVAC using AI or something on Google, and the first article that I could read quickly without actually clicking on it was an AI type service telling you how to run your house more efficiently than you can yourself by suggesting, hey, instead of, as you said, a nest. Thermostat kind of it will learn your schedule in and out of your house and then adjust your temperature accordingly.

But we could go much larger than that as far as using your electric at the right time of the grid, maybe when the prices are higher or lower or controlling your humidity. At the same time, with the energy efficiency in mind that's a whole smart home could be affected with your solar panels, could adopt your HVAC needs up and down as your load would change. As far as the energy that's already coming into your house and what it cost you, that's a big way that things can move around. But that energy efficiency market, those who are going to get into that as far as manufacturing is going to be huge to who is going to be the most optimized for this type of technology.

Armstrong Fluid Technology - Innovative tech in an old-school industry

Jordan [00:07:44]:

Sure. So, Rob, give us a little bit of insight on exactly what your role is at Armstrong fluid Technology, and then we'll talk a little bit more about some of the use cases that you've been using. But real quick, kind of what's your kind of day to day, just so we can understand some of these applications and use cases that we're going to be talking about.

Rob [00:08:04]:

Yeah. So I work with the distribution contractors, rep networks. I work with those individuals to help educate them from here, from Armstrong what Armstrong's offerings are commercially, even to residentially. And then I am personally taking the task of using, I will say, newer technology. Not to say that I'm the youngest person out there anymore. I was at one time, as we all were, but I've seen continually that older individuals use technology less and less, and there are those who really do adopt it. And it is quite shocking every time I do find someone that's older, more seasoned, I'll say, and using any type of newer technology.

But as the younger generation here is growing up, we are all running and kicking for this kind of stuff and we know how to use this type of stuff and grew up with it. And being able to bring that into an industry that heating and air conditioning construction trades in general, I would say, are very old school and very slow moving to adopt new technology. And in moving forward, that only has to exponentially grow as far as adoption. And that'll go hand in hand with the older mindset retiring, moving out of the workforce and younger people moving in. There's going to have to be an influx of young people. We've been understaffed in this industry for a very long time, and with younger people is going to come more innovative technologies, and adopting this is going to hopefully do very well in the US here.

How To Infuse AI into the HVAC Industry

Jordan [00:09:42]:

Yeah, that's a great point, because it's not like everyone here has the same goal, right? Of course I want to be able to keep my house at the right temperature and to be efficient and to not pay more. But when you think of the HVAC industry, you don't think, AI right, you normally don't put one and two together there. So I'd really love to hear just a quick story about the first time. Maybe you said, hey, let's use a little bit of AI in our processes here. Was it hard to convince people or were you just like, all right, I'm just going to go for this, do it, and show people the results?

Rob [00:10:24]:

It's still hard. And I just had a conversation with someone a couple of weeks ago to be unnamed, that for Armstrong. We have pumping technologies, fluid flow, but a pump specifically could be moving hundreds, thousands of tons worth of heating and cooling, for example. My house has four tons, so very large applications and selecting that equipment is very key, especially when you get to that size, as far as efficiency standpoint. And we were talking about being able to use an AI service to help select the correct equipment to someone who, for example, has no idea what anything is. And it's the trust that that would give you the right feedback. Because we know with Chat GPT, there are times where it gives you a 100% correct answer in its own mind that was entirely fabricated and made up and it has no truth whatsoever. If you ask it the right question in the right way, of course, right. So to ask something to do that.

But my follow up immediately to that was you can ask that if we asked Chat GPT what the correct selection for a certain application and heat and air conditioning would be, you can ask it to tell you how it got to that solution. It's not a black hole where the answer comes out and you have no way to check up on it. You can just ask, how did you get to this answer? So there are even checks in a free open source software that already exists to think of a company being able to apply that. I know here at Armstrong we do have these type of systems where we will optimize your plant efficiency to run your entire commercial space as efficient as possible. Our newest pump, just being able to run the data off of it and know you have energy out, understand your pump curves to get very technical, very fast, but you can be anywhere from 25% to 65% efficient on your energy consumption. And just imagine being able to have the ability to say, hey, here's where your efficiency is right now. By changing out the actual pump and technology that you have here, upgrading to the Armstrong way, we can give you 50% reduction on your energy bills.

That is an insane conversation piece. And honestly, when I was recruited for Armstrong to come here first, I thought, there is no way that much efficiency can be saved out of something already. Right? It's true. I mean, I've seen the numbers myself, I've heard the case studies and to bring that down to a residential level is a huge application. I think on the commercial market you see a lot of those. There's a lot of controls, a lot of complicated topics and everything. But on a residential side, the closest to AI we'd get again is a Nest thermostat an ecob, some type of WiFi connected. Thermostat a whole house solution or even a pre installation solution would be really key.

The Future of AI and Energy Efficiency in Homes

Jordan [00:13:18]:

Yeah. Where do you see whether it's HVAC or just throughout the home? Where do you see the AI industry kind of going in terms of energy efficiency in the home? Whether it's HVAC or not. Where do you see it going specifically with AI?

Rob [00:13:35]:

So I know we talked here that I looked up a couple prompt suggestions this morning in preparation for this. For me, again, as we're going to have a huge influx of, I'll say, new individuals and younger individuals into the heat and air condition industry, we're going to need a lot more information easily accessible from everybody's fingertips. But to use AI is going to be even my example. I've been saying for probably as long as Chat GPT has been available and I've at least not understood what it is, but at least tried to understand what it is. Right. Is that we can use this to be like a sales tool almost and not to sell. I'm going to persuade you extra hard into upgrading your HVAC equipment.

I want actual data for a homeowner to say, hey, this is the most energy efficient product, this will cost you the least amount of money to operate and it will provide you the highest level of comfort and being able to plug and play into an AI that will help you generate a proposal. I looked up the contract terms and conditions to help someone write that. It gave me back ten bullet points, which if no one's put into Chat GPT, give me the help me with terms and conditions. That was the most informative thing for 90% of all contractors. That should be your first question and that'll help you the most. And then also I know that there's art applications for OpenAI where at the same time you have every house that you walk into, or every even commercial plant that you walk into, you're going to have to with most heat and air conditioning if you're putting in something new. The biggest problem, most people say is, I don't want to see that on my wall. I don't want to have anything change in my environment.

So if you could work with an AI to add registers and vents and grills into the house, a picture already live, and maybe also rearrange the furniture a little bit into the room, I guarantee you no one will notice. Whatever the heat and air conditioning system is that you also added to that picture at the same time, it's just a perception of, again, it's always been done the way it's been done, and that's the only way people want to do things, right. It's always work. So I'm going to keep doing it. And people who do adopt an AI are going to push forward instead of if you're sitting still. Obviously, we've always said if you're sitting still, you're losing. You have to be pushing forward.

Using AI to Boost Slow Moving Industries

Jordan [00:16:02]:

That's a great point. So speaking of that, pushing forward and adapting to new technology as we wind down here on the show, you said that you're in an industry that moves a little slower. So what would your recommendations be for everyday people who maybe are in industries that are a little slower moving? What's maybe one or two just practical tips from your own experience of using different AI systems? What's your takeaway to be like, hey, go do this, and this will help move things forward a little bit in a slower moving organization?

Rob [00:16:44]:

Yeah, not to go the simplest answer possible, but I guarantee that I would imagine 95% of everyone in the heat and air conditioning world alone have not even tried to mess with anything like this. And just to be very simple for chat GPT to go on there, create an account, have it, there's nothing fishy about it as far as doing that, to my knowledge, and start playing around with it. Ask it some questions, and you're going to see. The answers that come back for me were like mind blowing that this exists. And as soon as I started asking the more and more questions I did, the more I realized, if I'm not using this again, if I'm not using this, I'm falling behind. And again, standing still is great.

You can continue to do what you've always done, but everyone else, if they start moving ahead of you above and beyond, you're going to need to move with them. So those who adopt any type of AI technology and adopt the most of it as soon as possible and kind of grow with it, are going to be the ones who have the most success in the heat and air condition and construction in general world. Those are going to be the most successful companies and people that have really good understanding of how it works. And you're not going to ask a question that is going to be you're not going to break any rule. Chat GPT is great. You're going to end up with a ton of dead ends.

But one other thing that I had done this morning real quick was I asked it if it could diagnose a fault code on a branded unit of specific and it gave me the top eight fault codes and what they mean. I didn't suggest or ask it what a specific fault code was. It just gave me eight ideas of the nearest code. So, again, even as a service technician myself for a long time, I was that being able to be at the outdoor unit and say, you don't know what's going wrong with the unit. It's an open book test, guys. We don't need to know the answer, we just need to know how to access it. And I'm telling you that if you haven't used Chat GPT, it has so many more applications, I'm still discovering them myself. But it's a great starting point. It's like going to the old guy in the field and asking him, what do I do? Except it's on your phone or your computer and you're able to ask the internet what to do and it's going to give you an answer back, which is great.


Jordan [00:19:06]:

Yeah, well, amazing. And as we wrap up, Rob, I think you set it so perfectly there saying if everyone else is moving forward, you can't be the one standing still. And I think you had just great advice on saying just go and ask it questions like Lauren saying here in the comments. You just have to know how to prompt it. You just have to be able to talk to it. Rob, thank you again for joining the show. Very much appreciate your insight.

So thank you for joining us. Speaking of Rob mentioned Chat GPT, go in and use it. We're going to have more info in our newsletter about this and to give you some practical tips on how to do this regardless of your industry. But go to your everydaya.com sign up for our newsletter. And we are actually giving away the premium version to Chat GPT, so sign up and we'll give you more information on that. So thank you for tuning into the live show or listening on the podcast, reading the newsletter. Rob, thank you for joining us.

Rob [00:20:13]:

Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Jordan [00:20:15]:

All right, so we hope to see you back Monday and every day with everyday AI. Thank you.

Rob [00:20:24]:

You too.

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