I can tell it is a new year because I have begun my health kick that typically lasts about three weeks. But, if you are in the HVACR industry, you know the AHR Expo is the official start of the New Year.

Many reading this column are probably in Chicago taking in the industry’s biggest show. If so, stop by and say hello. The NEWS is in booth #4440.

This show is when new products are introduced, and everyone shares predictions about what 2015 will entail. Why should I be any different? Here are my predictions for 2015.

• Prediction No. 1: The HVACR industry will be affected greatly by government regulations. Of course, we can say this every year, but government intrusion into the industry will likely reach unprecedented levels in 2015. With Congress and the president in gridlock, it is easiest for the president to push his agenda through regulations. And, the HVACR industry will not be spared. There is always a way to work around the Constitution.

According to people in the industry, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intends to introduce 18 rulemakings that directly affect the HVAC industry. Only five of these are scheduled for implementation after the current political administration leaves office, so that means 13 rulemakings will come about in the next two years. That seems like a lot.

I see the industry fighting some of these with litigation — and rightfully so. Buoyed by the regional standards victory, I believe the industry realizes it needs to use both the carrot and the stick to fight/work with government.

This is a fine line for the industry to walk. The industry needs to stand up for itself, but it also can’t be seen as slowing down progress. Here is a fact the industry should be repeating when talking about this subject: Today’s homes are 30 percent larger than they were 20 years ago, but energy consumption in them is flat. That is pretty impressive.

• Prediction No. 2: Homes will continue to get smarter, and so will contractors. The smart and connected home will continue to appeal to consumers. With big-time players like Google and Apple entering the fray, the game has been raised. Those companies play to win.

Customers are starting to expect more from their HVAC equipment and, in turn, their contractors. They want the systems to integrate and function in a smart home. Items like the Nest and Lyric thermostats are only the start. It will be important for contractors to be educated in this area so they can “own the home.” Expect manufacturers to continue to push the envelope on smart products and for contractors to keep pace.

• Prediction No. 3: The industry will see an influx of great talent in the form of veterans. The HVACR Workforce Development Foundation has made this one of its priorities, as have numerous HVAC contractors. As a number of this country’s finest return home from tours overseas, they will need jobs. HVAC has a lot to offer, including good pay, stable work, and career advancement. It seems like a match made in heaven.

• Prediction No. 4: The slightly above-average times will continue to roll. The economic growth of the last few years is certainly not knock-your-socks-off great, but it is steady. This growth is going to continue in 2015. It might not feel like it, but shipments have increased every year since 2011, consumer confidence is growing towards pre-Great Recession levels, and distributors reported approximately 6 percent growth last year. It is certainly not 2006, but it could be a lot worse. Enjoy.

• Prediction No. 5: This one is personal. I see myself losing 35 pounds to move from obese to overweight, enjoying the 20 percent raise my boss is going to suggest for me, and my 8- and 5-year-old kids will not have one fight this year. On second thought, it is probably more likely that the government will keep its nose out of your business.

Have a profitable and smooth 2015.

Publication date: 1/26/2015

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