When I first started on The ACHR NEWS, this was an easy topic to write about. The narrative was simple. The federal government was overstepping and getting overly involved in the HVAC industry. And there is certainly a good chance that a lot of people reading this column still hold that opinion.

But I must say there was a sea change about 10 years ago. After getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop on more than a few government regulations, the leaders of the HVAC industry changed their strategy. Instead of being reactive, the industry became a lot more proactive when dealing with the government.

Manufacturer, distributor, and contractor associations began to communicate more on these items and took the smart step to team up when their interests aligned – which is probably about 90 percent of the time. In addition, each association stepped up its lobbying game, and now most have at least one event a year where their members travel up to Capital Hill to advocate for themselves.

It seems like an easy thing to do and you might be wondering why it took them so long. But it is not exactly low-hanging fruit. It takes a lot of time and money investment when they have a lot of other items on their plate.

But it is important. Just look at the type of articles that have been published in The ACHR NEWS this year.

  • President Biden announced he is directing the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to increase tariffs up to 25% on imports from China. For the HVAC industry, this can read steel and aluminum. What that means for the cost of HVAC equipment remains to be seen.
  • Under a rule recently issued by the DOE, newly manufactured indoor residential gas furnaces will have to be at least 95% efficient starting in late 2028. Republicans in the Senate are currently trying to overturn the rule.
  • Countless articles about how HVAC contractors need to deal with the latest refrigerant transition.

Do all, some, or none of these items make sense? It depends on who you ask. All seem good in theory but all also seem to be ripe with unintended consequences.

Smart people are on both sides of this issue. I have talked with manufacturers who agree with a lot of what is coming out of Washington and believe that these decisions are good for the country and the HVAC industry. I have also spoken with some who feel the government is way too involved and the amount of man-hours they are investing in keeping up with these new regulations is coming at the expense of research and innovation that might be able to make products even more energy efficient.

What should HVAC contractors be doing with all this information? First, get involved. Both ACCA and PHCC have aggressive government and legislative advocacy focuses. Check out their websites to both get a lay of the legislative land and also to learn how you can get involved. Sure, some of it is financial but there is just as big of a need to work on a grassroots level.

Second, really think about how involved you feel the government should be in the industry, and then do your homework on the candidates to identify which one you believe will steer the ship in your direction.

Finally, don’t get completely caught up on the federal level. It is certainly important to think about what Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Robert Kennedy Jr., or any other 80-year-old guy will do if they make it to the White House. Maybe Dick Van Dyke wants a shot at the gig.

But also, do not forget about the local elections. These people have a much more direct impact on how an HVAC contractor’s business will operate on a day-by-day basis. Admittedly, this is a bit harder and takes more research. Your city council candidates are not on the NBC Nightly News each evening, nor are they featured on Fox News Sunday. But information is out there in the form of candidate websites or the local newspaper.

Or simply pick up the phone. Local officials tend to respond when a business owner in the community places a call. Use that opportunity to educate these people on the HVAC industry and small businesses. What these elected politicians can influence is how easy it is to do business in their cities.

I know contractors are busy. Especially in the summer season. But the correct vote this fall can go a long way to the health of your business.