Most Contractors Plan to Sell 13 SEER 'ASAP'

A majority of HVAC contractors surveyed by Emerson Climate Technologies —a full 77% —say they will be ready to sell and install 13 SEER air conditioning units by January 2006, while 12% will continue to sell 10 SEER units after the transition deadline. The survey of contractors and distributors is the second in a series of 13 SEER market surveys Emerson is conducting in 2005. The surveys are intended to get an understanding of their awareness, planning, and actions related to the 13 SEER regulation, which goes into effect January 23, 2006. "The contractor's role is a vital part in helping the industry plan for this transition," says Karl Zellmer, vice president of air conditioning sales for Emerson's Copeland Corp.

"With 77% of the contractors moving ahead, it's crucial that forward-thinking contractors take advantage of the opportunities this transition offers, and implement business changes to ensure success," he says. "Only those contractors who are proactive will be positioned for a smooth transition."

The survey also found that 33% of contractors who are taking steps to prepare for the transition have started work on strategic marketing plans. Zellmer says that's a good number, but not good enough, given the business realities brought to bear by the 13 SEER initiative.

"With the minimum efficiency at 13 SEER, contractors need to understand that higher energy will no longer be a differentiating benefit they can use to up sell their customers," he says.

Larry Taylor, president of AirRite Air Conditioning, Inc., Ft. Worth, TX, and a founder of the Service Roundtable, has been selling 13 SEER products for a full year. He urges contractors to do all they can to prepare for 13 SEER.

"Don't bury your head in the sand," says Taylor. "You may as well get past the 'wait and see' attitude and move forward.

"There is going to be learning curve, a change of sales and installation practices and techniques, to make this occur. Start working with your suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and associations to get the knowledge and training you need."

13 SEER a Challenge to Contractors
Emerson agrees that the 13 SEER initiative poses many business challenges to contractors, including:

  • installed costs of 13 SEER systems will be higher, causing consumers to be less willing to replace their air conditioning;
  • contractors will want to avoid installing an entirely new, matched system (indoor and outdoor) by simply replacing the 10 SEER compressor
  • concerns about availability of new 13 SEER equipment.

Nonetheless, Emerson encourages contractors to prepare for the 13 SEER transition by talking to suppliers, attending product information meetings, developing strategic marketing plans, revising sales tactics and pricing, providing technician education, and determining up-sell strategies.

Emerson Climate Technologies plans to conduct a third survey in late summer.

To view the current 13 SEER survey results, visit www.EmersonClimateContractor.com.

Emerson Climate Technologies' 13 SEER Contractor Checklist includes key considerations for proactive contractors, some of which are listed below. To view and download the entire checklist, visit www.EmersonClimateContractor.com.

13 SEER Business Considerations

  1. Develop a marketing plan for 13 SEER transition and 2006 season.
  2. Set up increased credit line for higher cost 13 SEER systems.
  3. Understand product differentiation and identify opportunities to upsell with diagnostics, IAQ, comfort, and modulation.
  4. Ensure your technician workforce will be able to handle additional repair work and compressor changes.
  5. Prepare loading docks, warehouses, and trucks for larger size 13 SEER systems and coils.

13 SEER Technical Considerations

  1. Ensure you provide training to technicians and sales teams.
  2. Ensure your technicians have the required tools and education for R-410A products and services.
  3. Understand installation and retrofit limitations, and concerns presented by larger 13-SEER systems, such as space requirements, new coil configurations, and control strategies.
  4. Confirm the type of expansion device used on the 13 SEER system being installed and that it is the correct size for the unit.
  5. Develop compressor replacement vs. repair service and sales guidelines.
  6. Be aware that mismatched equipment may have inadequate latent and sensible capabilities for full-load and part-load operation.
  7. Upon installing or servicing a Polyol Ester (R410A) unit, make sure new POE compatible filter drier is installed anytime the system is open.

— Emerson Climate Technologies

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