Ninety-one percent of HVACR contractors responding to a survey onThe NEWS'Web site ( in Aug. 2005 reported that high gasoline and diesel fuel prices were hurting their business' profitability.

Prices for gasoline and diesel fuel reached record highs this past summer, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that gasoline and diesel fuel prices increased about 35 cents and 55 cents, respectively, for the 2005 driving season (April-September) as compared to 2004. This period coincided with HVACR contractors' peak selling and service season.

High gas price solutions were varied as contractors offered insights to protect bottom lines. Many companies adopted a fuel surcharge. Others began charging mileage and restricting service areas.

One solution suggested was to dispatch more efficiently. Making no unnecessary trips became a reachable goal as the HVAC industry began implementing wider use of global positioning satellite technology (GPS). Not only did GPS help companies monitor fuel efficiency and curb costs, it allowed for dispatchers to keep track of vehicles and time spent on jobs, dispatching staff more efficiently.

Employers also considered allowing technicians to drive straight from home to the jobsite, cutting out the extra trip to the office.

The long-term outlook for gasoline and diesel fuel does not appear to be significantly different in the coming year. The EIA expects motor fuel prices to stay well above $2 per gallon through 2006.

Publication date: 12/26/2005