ST. LOUIS - Emerson Climate Technologies released the results of its second quarterly Web-based survey on the transition to 13 SEER. The survey showed that while a majority of HVAC contractors (77 percent) plan to convert to 13 SEER by January 2006, 12 percent of the contractors surveyed still plan to aggressively sell 10 SEER after the transition deadline.

The survey, the second in a series of 13 SEER market surveys that Emerson is conducting over the course of the year, asks HVAC contractors and distributors across the industry questions designed to gauge their awareness, planning, and actions to prepare for the 13 SEER regulation, which goes into effect Jan. 23, 2006.

The purpose of the survey is to help provide an accurate picture of the market's transition, which is paramount to maintaining uninterrupted product delivery and high quality levels as OEMs release their new 13-SEER models to the industry.

Bracing For Changes

"The contractor's role is vital in helping the industry plan for this transition," said Karl Zellmer, vice president of air conditioning sales for Emerson's Copeland Corp.

"With 77 percent of the contractors moving ahead, it is crucial that forward-thinking contractors take advantage of the opportunities this transition offers and implement business changes to ensure success. Only those contractors who are proactive will be positioned for a smooth transition."

The survey also shows that, of those contractors taking steps to prepare for the transition, 33 percent are actually beginning to develop a strategic marketing plan. Emerson's first survey in January showed 31 percent of contractors having developed a marketing plan.

While Zellmer noted that the upward movement is a good sign, he acknowledged the number needs to be higher. He points out that a minimum efficiency of 13 SEER means that higher energy efficiency will no longer be the key differentiating benefit that contractors can use to upsell their customers.

"13 SEER is now driving the need for a total change in mindset across the industry," Zellmer said. "The contractors who take a strategic look at their business and assess other ways to differentiate and upsell in a 13 SEER marketplace will continue to be successful."

In other steps taken to get ready for the change, 65 percent of the respondents have talked with their suppliers, 32 percent have conducted training for their employees, 55 percent have attended product information meetings, 27 percent have prepared for increased size of equipment, while 19 percent have done none of the above.

Contractors also must decide whether they will continue to sell 10-SEER units for installation after Jan. 23. Among the survey responses, 12 percent said yes, 26 percent said yes but on special jobs only, and 63 percent said no.

While the planning for 13 SEER progresses, there are still many concerns. The top concerns cited in the survey were: increased selling price of new units (19 percent), suppliers not ready (14 percent), and mismatched systems (10 percent).

In other results from the survey:

  • 76 percent of respondents expect to see increased sales of R-410A units as a result of the new 13 SEER regulations.

  • When asked if they think total sales in their region will go up or down as a result of the 13 SEER regulation, 15 percent said they would go up, 34 percent said they would go down, and 50 percent said sales would not be affected.

  • 75 percent stated their suppliers have not advised them of final firm order dates for 10-SEER units.

    Emerson plans to conduct the third survey in the series in late summer. To view all of the 13 SEER survey results, visit

    Survey Of Homeowners

    Emerson also commissioned the 2005 Home Air Conditioning Test to determine homeowners' awareness of the new 13 SEER mandate and of their own central air conditioner's efficiency rating.

    The study showed 90 percent of homeowners with central air conditioning had not heard of the new 13 SEER regulation. In addition, only one out of 10 homeowners claimed to know the SEER rating for their home's existing central air conditioner.

    When it came to the most important feature in choosing a new air conditioner, 88 percent of homeowners said lowering their energy costs is "very important."

    Publication date: 07/11/2005