In the interest of full disclosure, social media can be the bane of my existence on a professional level. I am sure no HVAC contractors know the feeling.
The social media department here at BNP Media is constantly telling me how many times I should Tweet, how much of my Facebook activity should be HVAC-related, and how I can get readers to comment on our content.
But, every now and again, social media can lead to a very interesting discussion about the industry. This happened recently on Linked-In, where one of my editorials was used as a jumping-off point to a bigger discussion on smart thermostats. I had written about the industry trend of Wi-Fi thermostats gaining market share at a pretty good clip. The conversation began with a debate on numbers, but quickly turned into a very interesting discussion about the products.
While I enjoy my Wi-Fi thermostat and can’t imagine going back, some shrugged this trend off as more of a fad. They spoke about set back thermostats being all the rage back in the day until people realized they were failing to utilize them. Once the novelty wears off on the Wi-Fi thermostats, the momentum will come to a screeching halt, claimed the pundits. Think of it as the HVAC version of the Dustbuster.
Let me go on record as saying I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. We are in a different time now. Consumers constantly want more and more convenience. People want to control everything from their mobile devices, and I do not believe that will change anytime soon. If anything, they will want more control, not less. That is just who we are.
The industry is producing a broad range of thermostat products. Consumers are granted the opportunity to select the one that’s right for them. They can go for simplicity, or, if it interests them, they can get a thermostat that learns their living patterns or identifies when they’ve left the house. This diversity gives smart thermostats a greater chance for long-term success.
Now, the folks on the other side of this issue have valid points the industry should take seriously. People getting bored with the product is a legitimate concern. But, perhaps, the biggest issue is the data. People are very protective of their information, and contractors and manufacturers need to guarantee public that their information will not be shared with anyone without their approval. This will be a deal breaker for many people.
There was also some grassy-knoll chatter about the government taking over the Internet and being able to control the temperatures in our houses. While I can’t support this conspiracy theory, I am sure there is a portion of the population that will.
The takeaway is HVAC contractors should enjoy the ride and make money for as long as these products are hot. Make money by upselling a customer when you are replacing a system or by getting called out on a service call where a do-it-yourself homeowner has messed up the installation.
The other takeaway: There can be some pretty educational conversations on social media. What are your thoughts on this aspect of the HVAC market? Do you see continued growth or an end to the good times?
Publication date: 3/23/2015