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The Elves, The Shoemaker, and an HVACR Miracle

Dec. 24, 2021
CLARK'S REMARKS CLASSIC: With apologies to The Brothers Grimm, our faithful sustainability columnist reworked this holiday favorite in 2019.

Behold! A very bad adaptation of The Elves and The Shoemaker, by The Brothers Grimm (not a boy band!). Before we get started, I offer my sincere apologies to Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1786–1859), for sullying one of their best-known short stories. Below, their original text, with change of pronoun, appears in bold italics.

Once upon a time...

An AC contractor, by no fault of her own, had become so poor that at last she had nothing left but her tools, her truck, and enough R-422D for one charge of an older package unit. So in the evening, she got out her tools and gauges which she wished to use the next morning, and as she had a good conscience, she lay down quietly in her bed, commended herself to God, and fell asleep.

In the morning, after she had said her prayers, she started to put her tools and refrigerant in the van, and there on the floor were ten 10-lb cylinders of R-422D, and ten 10-lb cylinders of R-410a! She was astounded, and knew not what to say to it.

She took one of the cylinders in her hands to observe it closer, and it was, indeed, the genuine article from a well-respected supplier, just as if it were intended to allow her to do master work. Soon after, a customer called and offered her a premium price to service all of the split systems serving his apartment building. The AC contractor took care of her new customer and also charged the older package unit that had already been scheduled, using nearly all of her newly-found refrigerant. 

She used the check that the new customer had tendered on the spot to purchase another cylinder of R-422D, since most of her customers had older equipment, And, once again, she set out her tools. The next morning, as she was about to load her van with fresh courage, she once again found a van full of refrigerant and an answering machine full of service requests. And so it went on constantly, what she laid out in the evening was allocated by the morning, so that she soon had her honest independence again, and at last became a wealthy woman.

Now it befell that one evening not long before Christmas, when the woman had been working late, she said to her husband, before going to bed, "What think you if we were to stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this helping hand?" The man liked the idea, and lighted a candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came, opened the door of the van, and quickly created full cylinders of refrigerant out of thin air. They did not stop until all was done, and they ran quickly away.

Next morning the husband said, "The little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have nothing on, and must be cold. I'll tell thee what I'll do: I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and do thou, too, find them a suitable space heater."

The AC contractor said, "I shall be very glad to do it;" and one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the single cylinder of R-422D, and then concealed themselves to see how the little men would behave.

At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they did not find any refrigerant, but only the pretty little articles of clothing, they were at first astonished, and then they showed intense delight. They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity, putting the pretty clothes on, and singing, "Now we are people so fine to see... Why should we longer contractors’ elves be?"

Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and benches. At last they danced out of doors. From that time forth they came no more, but as long as the contractor lived all went well with her, and all her undertakings prospered!

Have a very Merry Christmas, and may all of your undertakings in the New Year be prosperous!  And for those of you who are mathematically inclined:

A regular contributor to HPAC Engineering and a member of its editorial advisory board, the author is a principal at Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a south Florida-based engineering firm focusing on energy and sustainability.

About the Author

Larry Clark

A member of HPAC Engineering’s Editorial Advisory Board, Lawrence (Larry) Clark, QCxP, GGP, LEED AP+, is principal of Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a South Florida-based engineering firm focused on energy and sustainability consulting. He has more than two dozen published articles on HVAC- and energy-related topics to his credit and frequently lectures on green-building best practices, central-energy-plant optimization, and demand-controlled ventilation.