Congratulations! The Year 2021 is just around the corner and you’ve survived 2020, the year everyone, I think, wants to put behind them. For some it was a year of deep personal loss, for some a year of financial loss, and for most just a really tough year to get through mentally, physically, and emotionally.

But as we always do, we must soldier on and put 2020 in our rear-view mirror. This means looking ahead at the challenges and opportunities we will face in 2021 and beyond. So let’s break down some of these for our industry.

New Technology in 2021

The next few years show great promise from technology innovations. Refrigerants like R-32 promise to gain widespread acceptance over the next five years. This refrigerant has a third of the GWP (Global Warming Potential) and less required refrigerant pound-for-pound compared to typical HVAC systems with 410A and other blends. It also has a low flammability rating.

Of course, there will be challenges, including retraining and retooling your technicians to work with this new refrigerant. We will likely see other new refrigerants on the horizon as phaseouts continue.

Systems with inverter technology will continue to gain market share. They just make a lot of sense as they allow condensing sections to efficiently and effectively adapt to the constantly changing load in our homes and buildings.

Smart technology is becoming both more sophisticated and user-friendly at the same time. Integration with smart home technology and other appliances is becoming increasingly smoother. Consumers will not just become more used to higher-tech on their HVAC systems – they will expect it.

Test Instruments and Verification

Test instruments used in our industry are becoming smarter and easier to use with our mobile devices. It’s getting easier to get good data in the format we need.

Steadily improving HVAC system performance verification software will allow you to verify performance and evaluate systems with more speed and precision.

Take some time this year to learn about ASHRAE’s just-released Standard 221, which is the newest “Test Method to Field-Measure and Score the Cooling and Heating Performance of an Installed Unitary HVAC System.” In 2021 and beyond, ASHRAE 221 will make its way into both residential and commercial HVAC as the gold standard for installed system verification.

2021 and The Pandemic

While vaccines will likely become widely available in the first quarter of the year, 2021 will still be heavily impacted by COVID-19. What can you do to help your customers?

While there are some new devices that can help mitigate the spread of the virus, the biggest challenge with indoor environments is getting enough air changes to prevent buildup and spread in the first place.

Dilution is the key. Start by learning everything you can about ventilation. Learn how to properly bring fresh air in while exhausting stale air at the same time in a balanced way.

Beware of black boxes and silver bullets that seem too good to be true – they usually don’t live up to the hype.

Changing Customer Needs

Customers will continue to travel less, vacation less, and stay home more. Reports are showing that consumers are spending money on their homes that would have been used on vacations, trips, eating out, outside entertainment, etc.

You have a unique opportunity to help make their cocoons more liveable. Many have changed the purpose of different rooms in their homes to make things work with their new lifestyles.

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