A new feature to your furnace and ac yearly service that will prove to be well worth the one time additional fee
As the once stagnate residential heating and air conditioning industry begins a much needed evolutionary trend toward a significant metamorphose homeowners may first be confused and hesitate to play. The trends in residential construction continue to swim towards “the green home” concept whether it is the adoption of stricter energy efficiency standards in the building code or local tax incentives to build energy efficient or otherwise “green homes”. What happens in new construction often influences what owners of existing homes spend money on when upgrading their current castle. This coupled with the millions of dollars that has been pumped into creating a market for increasing the energy efficiency or more importantly the “performance” of the home has created the need for the HVAC industry to change the way they do business. This will be your proverbial separating of the men from the boys. Let me stop here for some quick definitions.
Energy Efficiency upgrades -Single or multiple retrofit measures that increase the energy efficiency of your home. This can be anything from changing to a more efficient light bulb to installing a new ultra high efficiency heating and cooling system.
Home Performance – A holistic approach to increasing the comfort, health and energy efficiency of a home. The home performance approach looks at the house as a system and diagnoses its needs based on all components affecting the other. This approach is more likely to get to the root comfort issues while at the same time increasing the efficiency of the home and make sure it is operating as healthy as possible. This is done instead of a single solution based on what type of product the evaluator sells, that may or may not address the actual problem. This process is usually started by a comprehensive home energy audit, comprehensive home energy audit, or assessment.
Why should HVAC contractors care about what they don’t sell?
Consider this real world example. A homeowner had a home built about ten years ago. Since the very first year they lived in the home one particular room has been almost unbearably uncomfortable in the extremes of both seasons, very cold in the winter very hot in the summer. Through the years they had repeatedly called various heating and air companies to evaluate the problem and were given many solutions. These included increasing the air flow to the room, balancing the duct system, zoning the home and lastly replacing their 92 percent furnace and 13 SEER AC with a new 96% efficient 2 stage furnace and 2 stage 18 SEER AC. None of these high dollar solutions really solved the problem. Just when they were resolved to a life of eternal discomfort in the master bedroom, they read about a service known as a “home energy audit” in one of their home magazines’. After googling home energy audits and finding a local “home performance contractor” with a good BBB review they schedule an audit.
After interviewing the home owner and hearing their complaint, the technician did a comprehensive energy audit on the home. The master bedroom had a small bumped out roof above it creating an attic space separate from the actual attic space and a bay window that bumped out creating a floor space above ambient air. Neither space was sealed off from the house properly or had a stitch of insulation in them. The attic space above the room had mold growing also caused by the lack of insulation and air leakage control. Essentially the master bedroom was a screen porch! In the end this and many other comfort issues were solved during their whole house retrofit. Although the homeowners were extremely happy that they could be comfortable in their own bedroom and the house in general was much more comfortable and healthy, (there was also an exhaust strategy ventilation system installed in the home as the energy audit revealed the home didn’t have the proper rate of ventilation) they were very disappointed in the HVAC industry for never realizing the real cause of their discomfort. Imagine if the first HVAC tech called in the first year of them living in the home had been able to properly diagnose the cause of the complaint!
This is not an isolated incident. And home performance professionals are not as rare as they once were. The HVAC industry was headed for a rude awaking. It’s easy to see why established HVAC companies would be hesitant to adopt a home performance model at first glance. It’s a substantial upfront investment for the additional diagnostic tools and proper training and certification. The solution to many comfort issues are no longer whatever your selling that day. Lets face it, as an industry they are not hurting for new business.
Recently many HVAC contractors have begun to realize a few things though. Real permanent solutions are better for business than sales solutions. No other industry responds to more comforts complaints. Taking a holistic approach allows the equipment their selling to do its job easier and better. A full home comfort health and energy assessment often lead to more sales than off the cuff sales tactics, and creates a revenue stream that didn’t formally exists for this industry. This is a service that can be sold with every maintenance contract or yearly service. So many have recently stood up and took notice in fact, that home performance is the theme of this coming years Air Conditioning Contractors of America annual trade conference. By more than one sources prediction in the next 5-10 years the HVAC model we know today will be completely transformed to home performance because it makes so much sense for the industry. So when you get your yearly service call and your in house tech ask if you’ve had an energy assessment or audit yet, don’t be scared, don’t look at them like they have two heads. Do some comparisons and credential checking, but it may be a good time to see what’s really going on in your home.