It is an ongoing joke amongst the editors at The NEWS that you can’t go wrong attacking the government in editorials. Attack anyone else, and it is likely that you (or worse, your boss) will get a phone call complaining about the opinion. But, the government, nobody wants to stand up and defend them.

Now, I am not an everything-about-government-is-bad guy, but you don’t have to be one to see our government is overreaching with the HVAC industry. As we have reported before, the Department of Energy (DOE) intends to issue 18 rulemakings that will affect industry products and equipment. Of those, only five are scheduled for implementation after the current political administration leaves office. This means 13 rulemakings are likely to go into effect during the next two years. If it seems like a lot… it is.

Just think about that for a moment. The plan is for 18 changes to happen in the HVACR industry that will affect how manufacturers produce products, how contractors install products, and, perhaps most importantly, how much consumers need to pay for the products.

The one getting the most attention is the proposed rule that would raise the national minimum energy-efficiency standard for residential nonweatherized gas furnaces from the current 78 percent AFUE — which is set to increase to 80 percent in November — to 92 percent in 2021. The rule is also written to set new efficiency standards for electrical consumption in standby mode. As Lennox president and COO Doug Young recently told me, this idea is somewhere between bad and really bad.

And here is guessing that this will not be the only rulemaking the government overreaches on in the near future. This will affect every aspect of the industry. So, what does the HVACR industry need to do? It needs to speak with one clear voice and speak loudly.

How can contractors help with that? They can help by getting involved in the issues. Contractors will be the ones pushing the larger quotes across kitchen tables and hoping the homeowner does not choke on the number. When discussing politics, the common refrain is one small voice does not matter. And there is some truth to that statement. One email to your local representative is not going to stop the furnace standards from moving forward. But the entire industry — contractors included — rising up to voice their discontent can spur change.

That is why I found it alarming when I talked to numerous contractors who said they were no longer going to be a part of the national ACCA organization now that the rules said they could join state chapters and not be a part of the national group.

ACCA does a lot of things, and government relations are at the top of the list. I don’t think it is possible to stump Charlie McCrudden, ACCA’s senior vice president of government relations, on an issue. ACCA is the HVAC contractor’s voice on Capitol Hill. They have a political action committee (PAC) that is funded by voluntary contributions from HVAC small-business contractors. You should consider donating. Contractors cannot just assume others will handle the load.

ACCA hosts a grassroots action center on its website, which allows contractors to send a message to their federal legislators on important contracting, energy, and small-business issues.

As a contractor you can’t just sit back and complain about how the government intruded into your business. You need to find time to learn about the issues and make your voice heard. If, after that, the government does not listen and passes rules that hurt the HVAC industry and consumers, then we can all get together and complain.

Publication date: 5/4/2015 

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