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Q and A

Doug Turner: Owner of Eastside Heating and Air Conditioning

In our continuing quest to identify people and businesses that actually benefit from global warming, we introduce Doug Turner, who has been installing and repairing air conditioners and heating systems in Portland for 37 years.

Turner, who started working at Eastside Heating and Air Conditioning in 1969 and now owns the company, is a reserved sort of fellow who has never been accused of blowing hot air. At least not at this time of year.

Portland Tribune: It's heating up out there. Busy?

Doug Turner: We can't keep up. People wait until the last minute and then they finally start calling. They've usually got their sick mother-in-law over there who just got out of the hospital and they want you there now. They've got their excuse; it's an emergency. And often there's nobody there.

Tribune: Any favorite customer stories?

Turner: We had this elderly woman who called up, and her air conditioning didn't work. She had no air conditioning, and she had just bought it from us and she was complaining. We went out to take a look and the thermostat was turned up to high, as high as she could get it. She had it on 90 and was mad at us.

Tribune: Does that happen frequently?

Turner: Yes. People are used to turning up the heat and not the air conditioning in Oregon. They think the higher they turn it up the faster it's going to run. It's reverse psychology or something.

Tribune: Any unusual calls this year?

Turner: We got a few this year in new homes with thermostats. The thermostat has 'cooling' written on it and they turn it to cooling and they can't get their air conditioning to work.

Tribune: What's the problem?

Turner: They don't have any air conditioning. The thermostat says cooling, but there was never one installed.

Tribune: What do you tell them?

Turner: We give them a price for a new air conditioner.

Tribune: Do any of them buy?

Turner: Actually, yes - quite a few. We're honest with them, we don't charge for the house call. And they feel stupid.

Tribune: What is the most common mistake people make with their AC systems?

Turner: People wait until it gets hot in their home and then they turn their air conditioning on.

Tribune: That makes sense, doesn't it?

Turner: It's not like heating. Air conditioning is much smaller. It takes 24 hours for the AC to get the temperature where it needs to be because it has to pull the humidity out of the air, and it has to remove heat from the furniture, the floors and the walls.

Tribune: Any other common mistakes?

Turner: Blown fuses. I'm serious. People aren't as mechanical as they used to be. We used to do a lot of things when we were young, but people don't do that anymore. They don't touch anything. They don't change the oil in their own car, and they don't change their own fuses.

Tribune: You're always working in homes where the air conditioning doesn't work. So what's the hottest home you've ever been in?

Turner: Probably about 115 upstairs in an apartment complex in Southwest Portland. There wasn't too much funny about that one. It was just very hot. There are a lot of houses that heat up to 110 or 115 when it gets this hot. A lot of windows in newer homes don't open. The attics get hot and downstairs gets warm and heat rises, so upstairs it's always the hottest. They don't get too much sleep in the evenings that way.

- Peter Korn