“Our product is not one where people know what they need and choose brand A or B. Our sales are largely driven by helping customers understand why they need to make these measurements. That’s where the training comes in.”
TEC has always used a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach to the marketplace. Rogers explains that the organization lacks direct contractor or energy rater training.
“We train educators,” he says. “In other words, we’ll train HVAC instructors. We will work with larger HVAC service organizations on their internal training. Sometimes, these companies may send their instructors to our train-the-trainer events, which we hold once a year.”
A Partnership with Promise
“Our partnership with National Comfort Institute (NCI) is one of great promise,” Rogers continues. “NCI has excellent reach and recognition among HVAC companies. Again, this partnership helps TEC because we don’t have the resources to train the number of people NCI reaches.
“They have relationships with the High-Performance HVAC community, which is everything to us. We are mission-driven, but if we don’t have customers and the products to serve them best, that mission is null and void.”
He adds that TEC brings their deep knowledge of building science to the partnership table. “Let’s face it,” he adds. “It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but of ‘when’ a contractor gets in over their head. Building science questions can get tricky and complicated. That’s when you need experts like Gary Nelson, Collin Olson, and Jake McAlpine with the deep expertise and experience to help contractors resolve building science issues.”
Rogers also says that his team has known for a long time that NCI is THE expert group when it comes to testing, measuring, and diagnosing HVAC systems. “They are the experts on the air side of HVAC.
“Lots of organizations will train based around the refrigerant. Some may get into combustion and furnace troubleshooting. But NCI has a well-deserved reputation for really focusing on the air side, including combustion analysis,” Rogers continues.
“There’s a natural partnership between our two companies because we have the best tools for understanding the airside, and NCI has the best training. Let’s face it: Air side problems are hard to fix without measurements. Without measurements, you can’t get a complete picture of what’s happening.”
Top Issues Facing the HVAC Industry Today
When asked what two key issues HVAC contractors face today, Steve Rogers is emphatic.
“The biggest problems in HVAC involve duct leakage and airflow,” he says. “What’s interesting is both are understood, particularly the impact of duct leakage when it leaks outside of the building, based on research papers written in the mid-1990s.
“But the knowledge of what that means and how that impacts the HVAC system has not spread. If you asked 100 HVAC contractors across the south, where ducts are not in conditioned space, to explain what goes wrong when ducts aren’t tight, less than half would have a good grasp. Maybe only 20 or 30% of them would.”
He also says total system airflow is a concept that is understood. The problem is that most contractors don’t know why they need to get airflow right. One reason for that, according to Rogers, is that proper measurement tools haven’t existed for very long.
“These two issues are challenges TEC has been working on for 30 years. With our NCI partnership, we can better tackle both challenges.”
Rogers says that in the end, whether you are an energy rater, home performance pro, or an HVAC contractor, the mission should focus on airflow.
“The AC part of HVAC is all about air conditioning, but so many energy raters and HVAC contractors don’t understand the air. Armed with the proper training and tools, however, they can set themselves apart from competitors by solving comfort and energy problems that nobody else can solve.
“When a consumer buys a new system with the same comfort problems as the old one, that is a huge problem. If you are a company that can solve those problems, you’ll develop a reputation, and consumers will turn to you.”
For these and other reasons, the High-Performance HVAC Today magazine’s team shines their spotlight on The Energy Conservatory.