Members of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) have some excellent reasons to take advantage of the latest offering from the association. With ACCA's newest partnering venture, members have the opportunity to differentiate their business and deliver more value to their customers.

ACCA recently teamed up with Energy Star, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This alliance allows ACCA contractors to identify themselves as being knowledgeable about Energy Star-qualified HVAC equipment. At the same time, Energy Star will provide requested marketing materials and consumer awareness guides to participating contractors.

"This is a very risk-free venture," said Steve Ryan, Energy Star HVAC program manager. "While any contractor can use generic terms like ‘energy efficiency' or ‘improved efficiency' to describe any HVAC product, the Energy Star is only earned by those products that meet strict efficiency standards. Many savvy homeowners already know this; approximately 40 percent of U.S. consumers recognize the Energy Star logo as an indicator of products that will save them money on their utility bill."

As he informed a roomful of members who were attending the association's 2004 conference in New Orleans, "If you are looking to differentiate yourselves, this can certainly be a way to go."

Attract The Customer

It's safe to say that nearly all consumers believe that saving energy is important for both the environment and their pocketbooks. The same percentage probably do not know where to start when it comes to addressing indoor heating and air conditioning. Therefore, if you can display the "Ask about Energy Star" logo next to your company's name, chances are it could pique the interest of a potential customer.

And, isn't getting the attention of potential customers at least half the battle? Once the attention is there, a contractor can provide more information about Energy Star, all at no cost to the customer.

"Energy Star provides a unique third-party credibility that can help you strengthen consumer trust," said Paul Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. "By identifying yourself as an HVAC contractor who is knowledgeable about Energy Star, you let your prospective customers know that you are able to help them fully evaluate the benefits of high efficiency HVAC systems, so that they can make the best possible decision."

In the end, it's always about taking care of the customer. Therefore, if you help the customer in that decision-making process, chances are you can get the sale - and, more importantly, a customer for life.

Tools To Help In The Sale

It's easy to join this new program. ACCA members have to download an electronic Energy Star training presentation and then complete a very simple self-test. Having that in hand, the contractor needs to download two fact sheets on Energy Star from the ACCA Web site. These sheets are to be passed along to customers.

Energy Star also asks contractors to make information about Energy Star available on their own Web site, and provide a link back to In addition, Energy Star will provide a direct link to ACCA's online Contractor Locator, where consumers can search for qualified ACCA contractors.

Energy Star can provide many helpful marketing tools. For instance, it has a Consumer Education Guide, which you can provide for inquisitive customers. It also offers investor software, downloadable from its Web site, which compares estimated operating costs of a standard efficiency system versus an Energy Star qualified system. This free software allows a contractor to input specific data, making the analysis more meaningful. At the same time, it can be used live on a sales call or to generate printed reports.

Being a part of Energy Star allows a contractor to be more aware of utility-sponsored incentive programs. For instance, beginning April 1, all Massachusetts statewide electrical utilities will award homeowners a $300 rebate for the purchase of Energy Star 13-SEER air conditioning units and $450 for those 14 SEER and higher. Meanwhile, a contractor will receive $100 for installing these units if he is NATE certified. (For more information concerning the Massachusetts offerings, contact Bob Guenther at 508-238-1194, ext. 315.)

If you want more information concerning the ACCA/Energy Star program, contact Kimya Bailey Cajchun at

Look at it this way: It's nice to have the federal government on your side selling, isn't it?

Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or

Publication date: 03/15/2004