Survey: Almost Half of HVAC Contractors Aren’t Prepared for New Regulations

hvacregulationsA number of new regulations affecting the HVAC industry are set to go into effect throughout 2015, but many HVAC contractors aren’t ready.

Many of the regulations are designed to reduce the effect of HVAC systems on the environment and gradually phase out refrigerants that are thought to contribute to global warming.

As soon as next month, the Energy Department will institute a new rule for determining the efficiency of commercial HVAC, refrigeration and water heating systems. The rule will allow manufacturers to use computer modeling and mathematical tools to evaluate energy efficiency and predict the performance of non-tested models, and that’s just the beginning.

New regulations regarding air conditioning energy efficiency have already gone into effect, and HVAC contractors are struggling to adapt in affected regions.

Many regions are seeing an increase in Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio minimums. SEER ratings divide the cooling output during a typical cooling season by the total output of electrical energy over the same period. Units with higher SEER ratings are more energy efficient. Under the new regulations, HVAC contractors will need to shift to selling and installing systems that are more energy efficient.

However, according to a survey conducted by Emerson Climate Technologies Inc., a startling 48% of contractors still don’t know about the regulations or aren’t sure how they affect their business. The survey compiled data from 698 contractors surveyed via email near the end of 2014.

According to Frank Landwehr, vice president of AC marketing at Emerson, this is actually better than previous years. In 2013, 75% of HVAC contractors were unfamiliar with the regulations that affected their industry.

“The constant changes in regulations require HVAC contractors to make a commitment to training and learning to stay on top of the changes and up to speed,” says Bo Thomas, President at Thomas HVAC. “I know at Thomas HVAC we had to really emphasize a training program to make sure we were staying out in front of the industry.”

Contractors were also found to be more optimistic about the regional standard changes than they had been in previous years, and only 17% were worried that the regulations would hurt their ability to compete or remain in business once the changes were enacted.

In fact, many HVAC contractors are now faced with the opportunity to sell more higher-efficiency systems than ever before, and 60% of the surveyed contractors believed that their sales of systems rated 16 SEER and higher would increase.

Investors Chronicle