Some heating and cooling contractors don’t buy into the current green trend, which frequently promises clear skies and verdant plains to anyone who buys the right products. But the truth is, many contractors are already a little green, even if they don’t want to admit it. How couldn’t they be? These are the people who have been talking with customers about energy efficiency years before it came into vogue.
For the contractors who have always promoted energy-efficient equipment, correct sizing, and proper installation, green may be more of a marketing term that can be used to describe what they have been doing all along. Now these contractors have another powerful tool to use when marketing their green services, and that’s the phaseout of R-22. Some contractors are using the phaseout to promote a green strategy that includes environmentally friendly R-410A products that are energy efficient and properly installed.
McGuire of Design Air Systems, Tulsa, Okla., sees the combination of tax
credits and the phaseout of R-22 as a good opportunity to go even greener.
ASPIRING TO BE GREEN
McGuire, president, Design Air Systems, Tulsa, Okla., is one of those
contractors who has always offered high-efficiency equipment, but he sees the
combination of tax credits and the phaseout of R-22 as a good opportunity to go
“We’re trying to be a leader in this new green movement,” said McGuire. “We’re
educating ourselves and learning more about the new products that lend
themselves to the green movement. It allows us to be a part of a new market,
and it’s pretty exciting to learn new things.”
Fortunately for McGuire, his service area consists of older, more established
customers who are also well versed in environmental issues. They’re becoming
much more aware of the R-22 phaseout, which has allowed McGuire to completely
move over to R-410A equipment on the residential side of his
“We won’t do R-22 on the residential side at all. We just don’t feel like
that’s a good investment for our customers,” said McGuire.
“More than 90 percent of our business is repeat business, so we needed to make
the change to R-410A. It also gave us the opportunity to be more profitable and
set us apart from the competition.”
McGuire is also starting to offer geothermal installations as part of his green
strategy. The generous tax credits for homeowners and the accelerated
depreciation schedules for commercial applications are making this particularly
attractive to customers in his area. Noting that the foray into geothermal has
required a lot of training and education, McGuire thinks the investment will
definitely pay off, and he’s anxious to get started.
The phaseout of R-22 and the tax credits currently being offered for
high-efficiency systems provide a perfect opportunity for contractors to get on
board with the green movement, noted McGuire. “If we don’t try to embrace the
idea right now, we’re going to find ourselves behind the eight ball.
Contractors who aren’t offering green solutions are going to struggle with
growing their businesses. They’re just going to be behind. It’s time to do it
now - it’s past time, actually.”
Rathbun of JB Resources, Tulsa, Okla., states that now is a great time for
contractors to change and grasp the green movement.
GREEN IS GOOD
Jay Rathbun, owner, JB Resources, Tulsa, Okla., applauds
contractors like McGuire who are embracing the green movement. “Contractors
have to actively think about being different. If they’re going to be the No. 1
contractor in their local community, they’re going to have to learn to change
and change often. This is a great opportunity for changing and really grasping
the green movement.”
Rathbun previously worked as a comfort sales consultant for a contractor before
starting his own company, which offers coaching and seminars designed to
empower HVAC contractors. He noted that the tax credits are providing a great
opportunity to go green, and contractors should be taking advantage of
“Contractors need to focus more on home energy savings, which can be encouraged
by the tax stimulus package. But it doesn’t stop there - contractors need to
offer financing and discover the customers’ needs, as well as focus more on
proper installations and the air tightness of the
As McGuire noted, consumers are becoming much more educated about all things
green, and contractors need to be just as educated as the consumer, said
“Contractors need to dive into Websites such as Energy Star and Department of
Energy in order to see what their customers are learning. They also have to
become NATE-certified. Both will educate them so they can help their customers
achieve their goals of lowering their energy bills, improving system reliability,
reducing dust, and increasing overall comfort. It’s not possible to do that
selling low-price, low-efficiency equipment.”
High-efficiency equipment that falls under the green heading is often a bigger
investment than standard units, which is why contractors need to stop assuming
what their customers can afford to buy. Rathbun relates the story of a
contractor who tried to sell a high-efficiency air conditioning system to a
couple that had never had one before. The couple were unsure about how they’d
like the noise of an outside condensing unit, so instead, the contractor shared
with them information about super-quiet geothermal systems.
“The geothermal system was $60,000 more than a traditional high-efficiency air
conditioning unit, but that’s what the couple wanted,” said Rathbun.
“It’s all about not assuming what the customer wants. Contractors need to ask
the questions to define what the customer’s expectations of owning actually
are. They shouldn’t be timid - they need to find the solution and fix the
problem. Ask more questions, listen more, and provide
In order to provide those comprehensive solutions, contractors should become
whole-home energy experts, noted Rathbun.
“That doesn’t mean contractors have to sell windows and doors, but being able
to visit about the benefits received with high-efficiency windows and doors
when they’re doing a load calculation is important. Learning how to do energy
audits is important, putting an emphasis on air leakage, duct testing, and
infiltrometer air testing. Then share this information with customers, which
helps sell the benefits of the equipment.”
Rathbun added that contractors can apply information learned about living green
by going to the Energy Star Website at www.energystar.gov to learn about
whole-home energy-saving ideas.
Now is the perfect opportunity for contractors to go green. For those not sure
where to start, McGuire suggests talking with suppliers, manufacturers’ reps,
and organizations such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
“They have a wealth of information, tools, marketing ideas, and support
contractors need to really get started and move on with this green movement.”Jay Rathbun, JBResources LLC, offers coaching and seminars to contractors on
the skills needed to improve sales, etc. He can be reached at 314-882-5489 or
by e-mail at jay@JBResources.com, or visit the company’s Website at