For those who are tired of dealing with dry air or the day-to-day hassle of the cheap units, whole-house humidifiers can be integrated into the central heating system and plumbed with water. This is where HVAC contractors come in. As a contractor, you can offer to solve the problem of dry air and minimize hassle when you’re replacing their central heating or cooling by adding this into the package with your higher tier options. This can be that little touch that differentiates you from the other guys the homeowner is getting bids from.
The addition of a whole-home humidifier is also a great talking point for selling maintenance agreements. Whole-house systems are great, but being out of sight and out of mind, serious maintenance issues can arise. If you don’t clean the system and replace filters at least once a year, bacteria will grow. The system might become clogged. It will stop working. Maintenance is a must with these systems. It can be the tipping point that convinces customers that they need your services.
System Sizing, Installation, and Maintenance
Beyond equipment-based solutions, it’s also important to properly size, install, and maintain the complete system for optimal humidity management in both the heating and cooling seasons. Here are three actions every contractor should do:
- Perform a load calculation and right-size the system. Oversized systems result in higher indoor humidity levels during the cooling season because runtimes are shorter.
- Ensure ducts are properly sized, insulated, and sealed. Leaky return ducts draw in humid air during summer and dry air in winter. Leaky supply ducts create negative building pressure and cause humid or dry air to infiltrate through the building shell.
- Beyond the HVAC system itself, it’s also important to consider the “building side of the duct system.” A leaky building shell will result in higher humidity in the cooling season and lower humidity in the heating season.
By installing properly sized and high-performing systems, you give today’s advanced equipment the best chance of keeping customers comfortable and healthy, and their utility bills low.
Keeping Customers Comfortable, Healthy, and Happy
The key is explaining humidity and comfort issues to customers, then offer potential solutions. This approach provides them options. But understand that too many options can overwhelm a customer. Three options seem to be about right.
It’s important to define options in terms that relate to the effect on the homeowner’s family (not the technical terms). Always provide a financing strategy that makes all the options equally affordable from a monthly budget perspective. This may sound odd, but to experience the most success, don’t try to up-sell a customer. Just educate them and provide understandable options.
For more information on effective customer-focused sales, contact Dennis Mondul to schedule a High-Efficiency Sales workshop. When it comes to ensuring the entire installed system performs to design, NCI and others offer classes on how to measure and improve system performance using real data.
In the meantime, if you want to take the first simple step in upping your game by serving your customer like no other contractor, there is a way. Differentiate your company from box-swapping competitors by showing the customer how to affordably solve problems that had previously been perceived as unresolvable. Humidity might be at the heart of your customer’s problems, and your competition isn’t even mentioning it!
At this point we would like to make a prediction: The next generation of cutting-edge HVAC contractors will be known as the best because they affordably manage temperature, humidity, and airflow when they work for a customer. Ask yourself this: if you’re not thinking about humidity when you talk to customers, what are you (and they) missing out on?
Ben Lipscomb is a registered Professional Engineer with over 14 years of experience in the HVAC industry including laboratory and field research, Design/Build contracting, and utility energy efficiency program design. He is National Comfort Institute’s engineering manager and may be contacted at ncilink.com/ContactMe.
Dennis Mondul from HVAC Contractor Solutions (HCS), has been doing consulting and training for HVAC contractors in North America since 1992. For answers to any questions regarding this article, contact him at 561/202-4371. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a question at hvaccsllc.com.