The Art, Science + Business of Housing


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By Bryn Huntpalmer


The landscape of home design is changing to accommodate the eco-conscious consumer. Contractors who familiarize themselves with green, efficient options and alternatives are slated to rule the market. Those who specialize in HVAC systems are in a unique position to benefit from adapting to the green demand, since a home’s heating and air conditioning system plays such a vital role in energy efficiency and the ability to decrease a building’s carbon footprint.

If you’re interested in becoming competitive in eco-conscious HVAC, here are a few things you should consider before touting your green services on brand-new business cards:

The Whole House Has Energy Saving Potential

Half of the average home’s entire utility bill goes to heating and cooling. An efficient HVAC system can help decrease energy usage and lower costs. But even if the HVAC system is composed of top-notch products and has been installed with impeccable workmanship, its efficiency is only as good as the structure’s energy envelope. Caulking, weatherstiripping, and insulation—as well as the thermal resistance of windows and doors—all play a vital role in allowing a quality heating and cooling system to do its job.

It’s not necessarily your job to act like an energy auditor, but you can advise your customers on potential problem areas and offer services or references to other green contractors to help better seal the building.

Focus on the Ventilation Aspect

Sealing the home or building tight makes it more energy efficient, but it can decrease ventilation that keeps air fresh, which contribute to indoor air pollution and lingering odors. You don’t want to become such an energy efficiency maven that you forget the V in HVAC.

Get Green Certifications

You can gain credentials through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will both improve and prove your technical prowess with eco-friendly HVAC systems. These credentials will be a helpful marketing tool that will build trust among potential customers.


Be Well-Versed in Energy Efficient Products

Understand the ratings of the products you recommend and how they relate to efficiency. When it comes to efficient HVAC products, the most important ratings are the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). Evaluating the SEER is the most common way to determine energy efficiency. It’s the ratio of the cooling output over a typical cooling season divided by energy consumed in watt-hours. The value ranges from about 8 to 30, and a higher value means better performance and is a good tool for estimating long-term savings. The EER doesn’t take the seasonal aspect into account, and it’s therefore more appropriate for applying to systems in consistently hot climates. As with SEER, the higher the value, the better the performance.

Communicate Saving to Customers

Energy efficient equipment may carry a higher price tag, but the monthly savings can help your customers recoup the costs. Show them the stats that prove the inevitability of savings. Be a reliable source of information on energy efficiency tax credits, their guidelines, and the paperwork that must be completed. Most customers will welcome guidance in these areas.

Customers are increasingly looking for well-informed, experienced, eco-minded contractors who will help them save money and conserve precious resources. There’s no reason that contractor can’t be you.

Bryn Huntpalmer lives in Austin, Texas where she currently works as editor-in-chief of Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.



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