The HARDI Hydronics Subcouncil

Sept. 16, 2013

The HARDI HVAC Systems and Equipment Council has four subcouncils, one of which is the Hydronics Subcouncil. The Hydronics Subcouncil’s aim is to provide useful and practical information to HARDI members through a format that exchanges ideas, answers questions and guides members in the hydronic equipment and accessories segment of our industry. The Hydronics Subcouncil makes recommendations in two key areas: Work Products (including product knowledge, training, best practices, etc.) and information sharing (including business conditions regarding equipment sales, technology advancements, certifications and development).

The goal of the Hydronics Subcouncil is to represent our members’ issues, concerns and thoughts regarding hydronics to the HVAC Systems and Equipment Council. Our subcouncil is focused on the economic, political and social environment affecting hydronic equipment sales and use. Our agenda is established by HARDI members through the subcouncil members. This year, our objective was to address five key items and report on them to the HVAC Systems and Equipment Council. The items are:

1. Venting Materials: The effective and safe venting of flue gases is always a concern for HARDI members. The hydronic segment has undergone technological changes with significant improvements in efficiencies. The introduction and adoption of Polypropylene Vent Piping is a dynamic we are watching, especially as it relates to regional and/or local coding issues.

2. Energy Efficiency Incentives: While the Federal Tax Credit (25D) was extended to 2016, the Federal Tax Credit governing Boilers (25C) is scheduled to expire in December 2013. The 25C efficiency levels reflect the highest tier of the CEE High-Efficiency Specification for Residential HVAC Systems, and we feel that this credit needs to be extended. We also would like to see the lifetime credit cap of $500 removed.

3. Hydronics Promotion: The Hydronics Subcouncil reviews fuel pricing and supply issues. We watch the trending of the primary fuels (natural gas, LP gas and oil) and we try to address the potential impact on our industry. An example would be our desire to provide the best practices in selling, installing and servicing oil conversions to natural gas, especially as natural gas looks to remain a greater value than oil.

4. Emerging Hydronics Markets: The two Residential Emerging Hydronic Markets we have discussed and look to provide further direction on are: Tankless Water Heaters and Combination Hot Water and Boiler units.

The acceptance of the Tankless Water Heater (on-demand hot water) in the new home building and replacement markets deserves close attention because of the energy efficiencies, cost savings and reduction in needed space. The future potential for the combination hot water and boiler unit intrigues and excites – having one product that provides hot water and also heats the home (with one vent) warrants interest. The Commercial Emerging Hydronic Markets we have discussed and look to provide further direction involve chillers – because of the advancements in modulation and controls – and because of wireless and zoning capabilities.

HARDI Hydronic Certifications: The discussion addresses the need for improvements in education at every level in a wholesale operation. We feel hydronic certification is worthy of the highest levels of HARDI involvement and direction.

I am the general manager of the Gustave A. Larson Co.’s Great Lakes and East Central Regions – an area that includes Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. I have been an active participant in previous HARDI hydronic meetings and I was asked to take on this very rewarding position that helps prioritize the numerous issues affecting the Hydronic segment of our industry.

Membership in the subcouncil is informal, and we welcome all those interested in joining. Interested parties can email me at jay.applebaum@galarson for more information.

Ed. Note: When I sent Jay Applebaum, HARDI’s chair for its subcouncil, a few questions about current activities, I expected to have a Q&A for this special issue. His highly organized and lucid explanation convinced me that it was a “stand alone.”