ARLINGTON, Texas — In 2016, an important change occurred in the way consumers gather information about new HVAC systems prior to purchasing one. For the first time, more consumers in Decision Analyst’s American Home Comfort Study reported using the internet, rather than a contractor, to gather information about their impending purchase.

While that trend has narrowed in 2019, slightly more than half of homeowners surveyed in the current survey reported using the internet as a source of information about their HVAC choices. Still, almost half said they relied on their HVAC contractor’s recommendation. These two information sources were utilized equally in the 2013 edition of the American Home Comfort Study; but prior to that, the contractor was the unequivocal primary source of information for consumers.

While contractors’ recommendations continue to play a role among homeowners overall, the younger the purchaser, the more likely they are to rely on their internet research rather than their contractor’s recommendations. About two-thirds of those aged 25 to 44 (65 percent) cite the internet as a source of information, while less than half (46 percent) rely on their contractor’s recommendation. The reverse is true for those aged 45 or older, as less than half rely on the internet (44 percent) and about half rely on their contractor (51 percent).

“As the current homeowner population ages and more internet-savvy Millennials and Gen Zs enter the homeowner market, we expect the internet to play an increasing role in HVAC purchases,” said S. Mark Teich, the project manager of the 2019 American Home Comfort Study.

HVAC manufacturers’ internet focus is paying off. More than half (58 percent) of the consumers who used the internet to research their purchase visited an HVAC manufacturer’s website to obtain information about their purchase. Manufacturers’ websites were cited as the most-often-used source of information for these consumers, followed by articles and information found via a search engine (45 percent) and free online review boards (33 percent). Contractors’ websites were viewed less often, as only about a third of homeowners (32 percent) included a local contractor’s website in their online search.

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