SEER and Cost

[Editor’s note:This letter is in response to the May 21 letter “Does the SEER Justify the Cost Difference?”]

If someone purchased a better appliance, say a microwave, that person would expect the product to cost more! The prospect would have decided that the value was greater than the price difference. One of the obligations when selling is to demonstrate this fact when attempting to assist the prospect in buying.

Value: A higher-SEER product will reduce cooling costs by as much as 20% and over the lifetime of the product, 10 to 14 years, will have a return on investment far greater than most other financial investments. Depending on utility costs, this could reach 40% or higher for the return on investment. Now I do not know about all individuals, but in these troubling financial times, I would certainly consider this value.

A higher-SEER product usually has a better manufacturer’s warranty. People do buy warranty regardless of my or the typical hvac contractor’s view of warranties. This would obviously be of greater value to the prospect. A higher-SEER product often includes better features, like two-speed condenser fans to provide a lower sound level. Again, [this is] a value that might appeal to the prospect.

Costs: Because our industry continues to install 10-SEER products (It has been estimated that 78% of all sales are 10 SEER.), the manufacturer obviously faces a higher cost to manufacture the product. In most cases, the 12-SEER product requires a better coil (i.e., an expansion valve, etc., or just a larger coil) [so] the cost is higher. Additional features add to the cost.

Marketing: Unlike most hvac contractors, manufacturers have a higher profit in higher-SEER products. This is something almost all retailers do when selling up. Yet most hvac contractors use the same profit margins for a 12 SEER, 13 SEER, 14 SEER or higher that they do for a 10 SEER. Why?

I hope this helps answer the question and helps others sell more efficient products!

Al Ciuffreda Fredericksburg, VA

’Tis the Season

I am writing in response to John R. Hall’s column about Sarah Wyckoff [“Clarifying the Worker Shortage Message,” May 7]. There are many opportunities for tech school graduates. We hire two or three per year and we furnish all tools. What she is missing is that the workload varies greatly from winter to summer in the North. We generally hire in the spring when we have a lot of entry-level work and grow the business enough that we can provide work all winter. We presently have 46 techs, and I don’t believe that we hired any of them — at least at the entry level — during the winter.

Dave Vann Vice President-Service Bassett Mechanical Kaukauna, WI

Worth a Thousand Words

I read John R. Hall’s May 7 column on “Clarifying the Worker Shortage Message.”

I have a related issue. I am trying to promote an Associate’s Degree hvac program which, up until now, has been undersubscribed. On its Web page, I would like to show actual pictures of hvac technicians “doing the job.” So far, I’ve been unable to find much on the Web.

I think prospective candidates for hvac careers may not be making the connection between the “words” we write about opportunities in this field, and the actual day-to-day work activities. They have probably seen the person in the van coming to service the air conditioner, but are not making the connection to “careers in hvac” (a term which is somewhat obscure to the layperson).

If you know of any source of such images, I would appreciate knowing about it.

David Addison Dean of Technologies Delhi College Delhi, NY

Publication date: 06/11/2001