Exploiting Environmental Hysteria for Fun & Profit

In his keynote speech at HVAC Comfortech 2006, Contracting Business Residential Contractor of the Year Steve Miles declared, “As a person in the air conditioning business, I’m all in favor of global warming, but I don’t know if we’re causing it.”

Miles’ attitude mirrors that of many contractors, who view the notion of anthropogenic (i.e., human caused) global warming with suspicion, if not outright skepticism. But they’ll take all the help they can get generating demand for air conditioning.

In Contracting Business' December 1994 editorial, the prescient Dominick Guarino (who was editor-in-chief at that time) predicted that, “Climate crusaders will continue inundating the media and government with reports that global warming is a real and immediate danger, and that drastic measures must be taken to avert disaster.”

Guarino then warned that, “Pressures to quickly decrease power plant emissions could lead to severe command and control energy policies, possibly forcing government-controlled energy usage, early phase outs of alternative refrigerants, premature replacement of HVACR equipment, and other, perhaps unnecessary, burdens onto our customers.”

Guarino’s forecast is coming to pass. California’s “Big Bold HVAC Initiative” to reduce 1,400 megawatts of peak load from residential and light commercial HVAC will probably be written into law by the time this appears in print. Given the nationwide level of environmental hysteria, other states are likely to follow the Golden State’s lead. Guess what? This is good news. Utilities have mandates to cut air conditioning energy use. Where will they find the kilowatt hours?

When the notorious outlaw, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks, Sutton answered, “That’s where the money is.” In the post 13- SEER HVAC world, energy savings are found in maintenance, better design, and quality installation. That’s money in your pocket.

Green Consumers
A growing segment of the population cheerfully pays a premium to be environmentally responsible. Just look at the proliferation of hybrid vehicles. Those who won’t pay a dime more, will choose green products when all else is equal. After all, no one wants pollution. Even the biggest environmental skeptic wants to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

For HVAC, green living is efficient living. Boost your sales by showing people how tune-ups, duct renovations, and higher efficiency products can reduce their carbon footprints (i.e. the CO2 that is generated from their energy use), improve comfort, and save money.

Remember, people buy on emotion. For those seeking a carbon-neutral lifestyle, few subjects are as emotional as the environment. When viewed through green-tinted glasses, the dreaded air conditioner replacement becomes an exciting environmental action.

Green Industry
In truth, HVACR is one of the world’s greenest industries. Without modern gas and electric heating systems, our northern cities would be messes. The “foggy” London of Charles Dickens’ day was really a smoggy London resulting from the prodigious use of coal as a heating fuel. When people are cold, they’ll burn anything handy to stay warm.

As an industry, we voluntarily reduced the use of CFCs and HCFCs faster than originally called for in the Montreal Protocol. Not only are few substances recycled as diligently as R-22, but up to 85% of HVAC equipment is recycled as well.

Green Contractors
Profiting from the environment seems odd. Yet environmentalists are pushing to create a carbon trading system where consumers and businesses “offset” CO2 emissions by purchasing credits for the CO2 reductions of others. So it’s not far-fetched that a carbon trader may one day subsidize your customers’ HVAC system efficiency improvements and sell the credits as “carbon offsets.”

Whether you think man is a global warming bystander or culprit, you should promote green living. Environmental-green living can provide you color-of-money-green living. Shrink the “carbon footprints” of your customers to grow your bottom line.

Take a cue from the hybrid automakers. Environmental hysteria is fun and profitable.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, which uses the Internet to distribute a wealth of sales, marketing, and business management tools to contractors, with new tools rolled out on a weekly basis. Learn more at www.ServiceRoundtable.com. For a complementary copy of the Service Roundtable’s HVAC Carbon Offset Calculator, contact Liz Patrick toll free at 877.262.3341

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