ACHRNEWS

Fearing Change Puts Contractors Out of Business

May 9, 2011
Angela D. Harris

Change is taking place across the world and in the United States. Health care legislation has been enacted, several unions have taken a hit, record-breaking storms have ripped up much of the South, gas prices have reached a historical high, and on May 1, President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Change has come, change will continue, and change does not stop to ask if everyone is happy.

Being an HVACR contractor has changed. Heating and cooling businesses that began with a few tools and a buddy’s truck have in some cases evolved into mini-empires that must function under more stringent rules, regulations, and legal implications.

Being an HVACR technician has changed. There are more varieties of equipment. Higher efficiencies, larger coils, different refrigerants, advanced onboard diagnostics, and an array of IAQ products that demand HVACR technicians understand a broader spectrum of installation and maintenance protocols.

Over the years, HVACR’s overall approach to heating and cooling has changed. What was once a simple installation of a heating and/or cooling unit is now a complex process that must consider the building envelope and a whole structure approach in order to maintain the energy efficiency many are striving to achieve. Ductless, zoning, and geothermal are all game changers in their own rights as well.

REBATES BECOME MANDATES

The theory of climate change is one of the key drivers behind the many changes that have recently taken place in the HVACR industry. Climate change is at the top of many lawmakers’ dockets, and the push towards energy efficiency is intensifying as environmental scientists sound a warning that the planet is heating up. Climate change has helped spur refrigerant mandates, Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Quality Installation (QI) initiative, and countless utility rebate programs that require training and certification for program participation. In California, the energy efficiency leader of the nation, goals have been set to make energy efficiency a way of life in both the residential and commercial sectors. The state’s primary weapon against running out of energy sources in the future is conservation, and it is pushing its residents and subsequently its contractors to comply with heightened efficiency standards and then prove that the job was done correctly and that the efficiency goals have been achieved.

These programs can be seen as a profitable opportunity for HVACR contractors and as a benefit for their customers, but obtaining and maintaining the required certifications for their staff can be an intimidating task, especially for those whose primary training was on the job when they started as an apprentice 20 years ago. These technicians and contractors might not need a test to tell them that they are professional and knowledgeable HVACR technicians, but the state of California does; and in the not-too-distant future, technicians are likely going to have to have that certification proof in order to continue being an HVACR technician.

SOLUTION TO CHANGE?

Change is unavoidable. It is possible to slow change down, or to make different changes, but the fact that life and business are not consistently the same set of circumstances cannot be denied. With this in mind, it is important for HVACR contractors and technicians to understand the overarching concepts of energy efficiency and embrace the idea that certification and quality installations will soon become a mandatory way of life. This is one area where delaying to change could be detrimental to a contractor’s business. If a state requires certain standards and certifications for rebates now, eventually it will likely require certain standards and certifications for every installation in the future.

The road to mandatory certification and training is not that long and standing at the side of it pondering the next move will only allow other contractors to gain a competitive advantage. As a professional contractor, it’s understood that you hire the best HVACR technicians available, don’t be afraid to prove it through certification. Don’t be afraid to change.

Publication date: 05/09/2011