Air Advice’s Ben Middleton (right) listens to a couple of Aire Serv franchisees talk about air quality issues during the group’s annual meeting in Lake Tahoe.

LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - With the economy going south and home sales taking a beating, homeowners are determined to reinvest in their homes and make them healthier and more livable. That’s according to Ben Middleton of Air Advice, who spoke with franchisees at the Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning annual meeting in Lake Tahoe.

“Consumers are looking to spend money on their homes to make them a better investment,” said Middleton. “So we need to talk to them about indoor air quality and to differentiate ourselves from other HVAC contractors.”

He said the overall market for IAQ products in 2004 was $5.6 billion and is expected to grow 11.1 percent each year and reach $9.4 billion in 2009. He said it is obvious that homeowners are now more interested in services like duct cleaning and carpet cleaning. Maybe that is why a lot of businesses are adding these services, he said.

“Even Culligan water has begun to offer ultraviolet lights to customers because they saw the market for the product,” Middleton said.

“There is a huge opportunity for contractors to solve IAQ problems such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc.”

Middleton talked about the Air Advice Home Advice system, which includes an IAQ monitor that identifies indoor temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, chemical pollutants, and particles. Homeowners can get a detailed report of the quality of their indoor environment and it leads to more business opportunities for contractors, according to Middleton.

“This system leads to more closings on proposals, opportunities to sell multistage, variable-speed HVAC systems, IAQ products and add-ons, reduce the effects of seasonal business fluctuations, increase the number and value of service agreements, reduce lead generation costs, and reduce the number of callbacks.

“The monitor identifies hot and cold spots and stuffy rooms which, beside identifying comfort issues, can help reduce excessive energy bills.”

Middleton said the report from the monitor breaks answers down into three categories: health, safety, and comfort. On the lighter side, he said the monitor is so thorough that it can do more than just measure IAQ. He said a homeowner noticed, from the report, that there was a change in the indoor atmosphere at around 2 a.m. each day, as if a window or door was opening and closing. It turned out that the homeowner’s 15-year-old daughter was sneaking out of the house at that time each night.

“You can have a little fun with the homeowner by showing him or her what they have been doing at certain hours of the day,” Middleton joked.

Publication date:03/03/2008