GAMAzine: GAMA's New Website Offers Something for Everyone

July 24, 2006
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The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is reaching beyond its membership to serve the larger HVAC community - contractors, technicians, and installers, as well as distributors and wholesalers.

GAMA's Website now features more tools designed to help contractors better serve their customers. For many HVAC professionals, it's becoming a one-stop resource on GAMA-certified products and energy-efficiency ratings.

HELPING CONSUMERS

The Website offers the ability to search for energy-efficient products from the GAMA database by rating, fuel type, model ID number, and other features.

"This useful search engine gives you instant, real-time data on energy-efficient products, plus many bonus tools your customers will appreciate immensely," said Lawrence P. Longo, manager of certification services at GAMA.

Richard Dean, principal at Environmental Systems Associates (Columbia, Md.), is a firm believer in the site.

"I use the equipment certification part of it [the Website] so when I propose equipment to a customer, I can give them a third-party source as to what efficiency it is," said Dean, who is chairman of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

The contractor said the certification indicates exactly what the energy-efficiency rating is. So, for those customers who are concerned about efficiency, Dean said he can allay any concerns or fears they have by providing GAMA's third-party source information.

Right from this Web location, a contractor can print out certificates that indicate GAMA-certified efficiency ratings. Various GAMA-certified products are eligible for tax credits, e.g., under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, or rebates. When a customer applies for such a tax credit or rebate, the printed certificate may be useful as evidence of eligibility. The certificate will contain a photo of the product and all the ratings information, footnotes, etc., that would be needed when the claim is filed, said Longo.

Another new feature on this Website are four critical resource documents of products eligible for EPAct of 2005 federal income tax credits, each covering a product category - gas-fired furnaces, 95 percent AFUE or greater; gas-fired boilers, 95 percent AFUE or greater; electrically efficient gas- and oil-fired furnaces; and gas instantaneous water heaters, .80 Energy Factor or greater. The source of the information is GAMA's Directory of Certified Efficiency Ratings for Heating and Water Heater Equipment.

TEST THE WEBSITE

Coming this fall (2006), GAMA will launch an upgraded Website, designed to be the ultimate online resource center for HVAC professionals and consumers. Featuring even more unique tools, this site will be independent of, yet have links to, GAMA's main Website, www.gamanet.org.

The Website's newest features will be in Beta format, which means they won't be in their final form right away.

"We're inviting the industry - contractors, wholesalers, distributors, and technicians - to visit the site, test it out, and we want to hear their feedback and comments. ... We want them to check it out, kick the tires, so to speak, so we can build a better online community," said Ken Sommer, GAMA director of communications.

Both consumers and industry professionals will be able to access manufacturers' virtual spaces on the site, containing brand-specific information and displays of their featured product lines. Users will be able to search the site by dozens of product types, including space heating, space cooling, potable water heating, and hydronics. A full spectrum of residential, commercial, and industrial products is to be available. A manufacturer's space could include links to its certified product information already available on the existing GAMA Website, as well as the ability to print energy-efficiency certificates.

According to Windora Bradburn, GAMA's chief financial officer, the product information could help the contractor find the best product for the consumer's needs since each house is configured differently and may have different energy needs.

Among the Website's other planned features to come:

  • A tool that can calculate energy-efficiency cost savings that new, certified products can offer customers. The tool can be used to compare the customer's current equipment versus new equipment, as well as new units that are rated at different energy-efficiency levels.

  • Consumer tips on unit maintenance, safety rebates, and tax credits, and how to find a NATE-certified technician.

  • Archived data for older products can be accessed and downloaded from another of the Website's tools.

    Financing and extended warranties can be obtained from the site as well. GE will be the exclusive sponsor for consumer financing, Horizon-Keystone Financial will be the exclusive sponsor for commercial financing, and Equiguard will be the exclusive sponsor for warranties.

    Offering financing is intended to help ease the burden of having to pay for a new unit and installation at the time it is put in.

    GAMA invites you to be among the first HVAC professionals to test the newest features at www.gamanet.org and give feedback on which tools are most helpful, as well as request additional resources you'd like to see added. Contact Lawrence Longo at 908-464-8200, ext. 12.

    Publication date: 07/24/2006

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