Marketing Indoor Comfort: Homeowners Need Help In Selecting Comfort Systems

September 12, 2005
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Wayne Beck (right), president of Aladdin Air Conditioning and Heating Inc., Newbury Park, Calif., shakes hands with a happy customer. According to a survey conducted by Emerson Climate Technologies, consumers crave more education regarding 13 SEER and higher-efficiency equipment.
Based on a recent survey conducted by Emerson Climate Technologies, contractors can earn respect - and, ultimately, business -- from customers if they supply them with knowledge concerning the new national minimum efficiency standard for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps.

Emerson's research found that homeowners do not have a clue as to what is going on. Ninety percent of homeowners questioned did not know the efficiency rating of their central air conditioning system and are unaware that new air conditioners soon must meet a higher minimum federal efficiency standard.

"The lack of awareness of the SEER standard change is startling when contrasted to the fact that 98 percent of homeowners rank lower operating costs and utility bills as important when shopping for a new central air conditioner," said William Sutton, president of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. "This survey shows that consumers crave more education on this issue."

In the minds of Sutton and others, contractors are the perfect source to bring the news to homeowners.

"The survey echoes what contractors are hearing when we talk with our customers," said Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

Tom Bettcher, who heads up Emerson Climate Technologies, believes the survey proves that the industry needs to help homeowners understand the benefits of 13 SEER and higher-efficiency air conditioners.

"It's time to raise awareness of the technologies that enable more energy-efficient systems," he said.

Interesting Discoveries

Here are the survey's key findings:

1. An overwhelming majority of Americans are unaware of the new government regulation that requires a minimum 13 SEER rating for central air conditioners made after January 2006.

Breaking this down:

  • Ninety percent of homeowners with central air conditioning had not heard of this new rule.

  • A majority of these homeowners (55 percent) expressed concern that they had not heard of this new mandate.

  • Eighty percent of homeowners with central air conditioning say there is a need for more consumer information on this issue.

    Randy Gibbs (second from left), president of Brody-Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning, Los Angeles, makes a point regarding a system’s rating to his technicians. In a survey conducted by Emerson Climate Technologies, only one out of 10 homeowners claimed to know the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for their home’s existing central air conditioner.
    2. Few homeowners know the efficiency rating for their current central air conditioners.

    Breaking this down:

  • Only one out of 10 homeowners claimed to know the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for their home's existing central air conditioner.

    3. Americans rank lower energy costs, high reliability, improved air quality, and consistent temperature and humidity control as top features when buying a new air conditioner.

    Breaking this down:

  • When it comes to the most important feature in choosing a new air conditioner, 88 percent of the respondents said lowering the energy cost is "very important."

  • High reliability (86 percent), improved air quality (71 percent), and consistent temperature and humidity control (74 percent) are also ranked as "very important."

  • Quieter operating sound is ranked by 56 percent as "very important."

    4. A majority of homeowners recognize which part of their air conditioner uses the most electricity.

    Breaking this down:

  • Fifty-six percent of homeowners with central air conditioners correctly identified the compressor as the biggest user of electricity in a central air conditioner.

    5. The 2005 Emerson survey reconfirms low public awareness of SEER rating system.

    Breaking this down:

  • In a prior 2004 survey, Emerson found homeowner awareness of the SEER rating very low. In that same survey, 77 percent said they had never heard of the term SEER rating, and some mistakenly associated SEER rating with "cooking intensity," "weather condition," and even "fortune telling."

    Publication date: 09/12/2005

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