The Blue Man Group may have been one of the first to exploit the color blue with its renowned Las Vegas act and through appearances on national television commercials. But the HVAC industry is not to be outdone. White-Rodgers, an Emerson Climate Technologies company, got in on the act with its new 90 Seriesâ„¢ Blue, a touchscreen thermostat with a bright future - bright blue, by the way.

White-Rodgers introduced its digital 7 day, 5/1/1 day programmable or nonprogrammable 90 Series Blue, with a five-year warranty, at 56 meetings throughout North America. White-Rodgers distributors from the United States and Canada invited contractor customers to attend a cocktail reception, product introduction, and a sumptuous dinner, with the primary intent being to entice local centers of influence in the contracting community to take on the newest thermostat offering.

If not for the fact that so much research had gone into the development of the 90 Series Blue (Model 1F97-1271) universal single-stage touchscreen thermostat, these product launch meetings might have seemed somewhat routine. Dinner, drinks, and a product pitch are standard fare in the HVAC business. (Well, the drawing for a blue Ford Mustang GT, to be awarded at the Emerson Climate Technologies AHR Expo party on Jan. 22, 2006 didn't hurt attendance at the local meetings.)

So, why would somebody name a thermostat Blue, anyway?

White-Rodgers conducted research with thousands of home-owners to find out not only what color they preferred, but what general features were the most desirable. The research showed that when asked their favorite color, 41 percent of consumers overwhelmingly prefer the color blue. The second most preferred color is purple at a distant 22 percent, barely half of the No. 1 choice.

Blue makes people feel calmer, more productive, and the human brain even remembers information better when written in blue. In addition to finding that blue displays are preferred for thermostats, big displays were found to be better than small displays for ease of reading, and fewer touch keys are desired, so as not to confuse the homeowner who is responsible for adjusting and programming the temperature.

At a meeting held in Atlanta on Dec. 6, Jeff Edgar of White-Rodgers discussed indoor air quality (IAQ) as a rising concern among homeowners and offered suggestions for contractors to consider. "A thermostat plays an important role for your company. It's what the customer sees nearly every day for up to 15 years, and is how most people identify with their comfort systems," said Edgar. White-Rodgers has a full offering of IAQ products including thermostats, zoning, electronic air cleaners, and filtration products.

Some interesting aspects of the meeting included the attendees' reactions to a couple of announcements. Edgar received applause when he informed the contractor guests that supporting sales literature for the 90 Series Blue thermostat is free.

The group also found that Blue wasn't just a color: B is for Big display - 12 square inches; L is for Loyal - the thermostat will only be sold through professional HVAC contractors; U is for Universal - installer-selectable options such as dedicated programmable or nonprogrammable modes, and installation instructions in Spanish; and E is for Easy - only the touch keys you need are visible for programming and operation.

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Publication date: 01/23/2006