Category Archives: hvac

The Value of Maintenance Agreements – Submitted by Jaymie Hunckler, Account Manager at Jackson Systems

I’ll admit it – I used to be one of THOSE people. You know, the person who never bought the extended warranty or service agreement on anything. “Pssh,” I would tell my husband, defiantly. “It’s just another money-sucking mechanism. It’s another way to drain more money out of customers with no real return on investment.” Basically, I was a salesman’s worst nightmare.

And then the motor burned up on our condensing unit. In the middle of February. When we had twin infants in the house. The cause? Well, if you would have just taken a look at our measly little 1-inch furnace filter, with an embarrassingly low MERV rating, which had not be changed in probably six months, it was easy to figure out why. Now, in my defense, I hadn’t yet made my foray into the HVAC industry; sure, I knew it was important to change your furnace filter from time to time, but I didn’t worry about it! I could pick one up at the grocery store next time I went. And then I would forget. So, I put it on my list for the next visit; and then I would forget again. $600 later, I vowed I would never make THAT mistake again!

Living in our home for 4 years, we had never had the a/c “tuned up”? Why would we need to do that – to improve its efficiency – it works just fine…right? Wrong – as evidenced by the fact that we literally, just this summer, shelled out a cool $4,000 for a complete system replacement.

Maintenance agreements, if presented in the right manner, and showcasing tangible benefits can be a great asset to any contractors’ service offerings (and could have saved our family a ton of money). Too often, customers are not given the right reasons to purchase a maintenance agreement. The maintenance agreement is often offered as a passing service without the real benefits being discussed with the customer. To effectively sell a maintenance agreement the contractor must provide the customer with true benefits and options.

A Range of Offerings
Maintenance agreements are not a one-size-fits-all product. If providing maintenance agreements as a value added service, make sure you have a few different options available. They must be semi-customized to fit both the customer needs and price-range. If you give the customer options and accurately sell the benefits of each, you’re more likely to sell more agreements.

Clearly Defined
Services provided in each maintenance agreement must be clearly defined. Let the customer know up front that the first tier maintenance agreement provides for two system tune-ups per year, and why a semi-annual tune up is essential for the systems overall efficiency, especially when it pertains to energy savings (customers always want to know how they’ll save money). If the first-tier maintenance agreement doesn’t offer filter changes, make sure the customer is aware of this. Chances are, if the customer can count on the contractor to take care of filter changes and the price isn’t that much higher, they’ll upgrade to the next tier agreement.

Sales Training
This one is probably the most important element. Sure, you may have some really great maintenance agreements providing some really great value-added services for the customer. If you have a service or install technician or a “salesman” that really doesn’t know how to present the benefits of a maintenance agreement to the customer, you might as well not have one at all. This definitely explains why I was so hesitant, for years, to add on maintenance agreements or extended warranties.

Look, it’s easy to say “Buy this service agreement – it costs $400 and we’ll tune up your system twice a year!” Are you confused why the customer doesn’t want to sign on the dotted line? They weren’t given the reasons WHY they should purchase that service agreement! Isn’t it just as easy to say, “With the purchase of a service agreement, we’ll take care of six filter changes a year for you. Filters need to be changed regularly to ensure the proper health of your system. A new filter also helps prevent against unwanted allergens in the air, such as pet hair, dander and dirt, which can really affect the overall health of your entire family. We can take care of that change for you, so you never have to worry about it!”

There are endless benefits to offering maintenance agreements to your customer (and offering them the right way). Increased sales and repeat business from customers who are going to come back to you for many years are just two. Jackson Systems has a variety of sample maintenance agreements we can provide you that you can customize to fit your own needs. Give us a call at 888.652.9663 and we will gladly email these to you.

FBI Issues Warning on Illegal Use of Flammable Refrigerants – Story courtesy of ICOR International

Article courtesy of Gordon McKinney, ICOR International, Inc.

From the onset, the federally mandated phase out of R-22 has been rife with controversy, and the confusion created by fluctuating prices as well as the never-ending supply and demand uncertainty has left refrigerant distributors, users, and equipment owners, extremely vulnerable.
A number of obscure companies have been selling R-22 alternative refrigerants that are marketed as “Natural Refrigerants”, and “Drop Ins”. They boast that these refrigerants are “Inexpensive”, “Do not require any certification to purchase”, and “Can be mixed with R-22”. The horrible truth is that these so called “Natural Refrigerants”, are comprised primarily of highly flammable gases such as propane and they are illegal for use in AC applications.

The FBI has recently issued a warning to be on the alert for refrigerant substitutes that have not been approved by the EPA. Reports are on the rise worldwide of explosions, fires, and severe injuries, including fatalities, as the result of these flammable refrigerants being used in unapproved ACR applications. In 2013 the EPA took action against at least one U.S., company for selling an unapproved flammable refrigerant, yet many believe that without an increased enforcement effort, this problem will lead to even greater safety hazards and tremendous liability issues.

There are safe, and well established, non-ozone depleting refrigerants, like ICOR’s NU-22B, that are EPA approved for servicing R-22 systems in a wide range of applications. However, some HVACR product distributors, and refrigerant users, have been lured into supporting inferior products because of their cheap price. Along with the many hazards that flammable refrigerants pose to users and equipment owners, there are a few other “cheap” R-22 alternative refrigerants being misrepresented, and subsequently misapplied, that are leading to serious losses in system efficiency and compressor failures. Products like R-407C are relatively inexpensive, but are not suitable for use as a direct replacement for existing R-22 applications without changing the mineral oil to POE oil and flushing the line sets. The cost of the additional system conversion requirements make R-407C, and other products with similar requirements, the least practical option for servicing existing R-22 equipment.

The long term liabilities associated with selling and using hazardous, and or inferior R-22 replacements, are causing many to realize that cheap options are very seldom the best options.

If you know of anyone distributing or using flammable refrigerants in unapproved applications or non-EPA approved refrigerants and counterfeits, notify the FBI or the EPA immediately. Doing so will save lives.

AHRI Releases May 2014 US Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data

AHRIAHRI recently released the May 2014 data on U.S. shipments of heating and cooling equipment. For May 2014, gas warm air furnaces are up 8.7%. Oil furnace shipments are down 1.1% for this time period. Y-T-D gas warm air furnaces are up 7.4%. Y-T-D shipments of oil warm air furnaces are up 9.2%. Air conditioning and heat pump shipments were also up for May at 8.8% combined. Y-T-D these units are up 9.9% driven by a 17.1% increase in heat pump shipments. Click here for the full report: AHRI Shipment Data.

Women in HVACR Host Live Podcast with Steve Coscia

f4f129ac3776225dad727bbafcd57ad0Steve Coscia, founder of Coscia Communication, has generously donated his time and expertise for a live online event hosted by the Women in HVACR organization. This live podcast will take place on Thursday, July 17 at 2pm ET. Steve will share “Extreme Customer Service Values and How-To’s”. No matter our position in this great industry, we can all polish our customer service skills on a daily basis. Steve is a widely published and quoted authority in the customer service industry.

To save your spot for this limited opportunity live podcast, click here Steve Coscia Live Podcast.

Honeywell® Lyric™ Is Here!

The Lyric thermostat from Honeywell is ideal for customers who are on the go and want optimal comfort and savings they don’t have to think about.

The Lyric uses “geofencing” to determine occupancy. This technology uses the homeowner’s smartphone location to automatically adjust temperature as they come and go. The Fine Tune feature considers both indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity to reach set point, ensuring 72° really feels like 72°.

The Smart Cues feature sends homeowners maintenance notifications and extreme conditions alerts to help extend the life of their HVAC equipment.

The Lyric thermostat is now available from Jackson Systems. For more information or to place an order go to click here: Honeywell Lyric Thermostat or call 888.652.9663.

AHRI Releases April 2014 U.S. Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data

AHRIAHRI recently released the April 2014 data on U.S. shipments of heating and cooling equipment. For April 2014, gas warm air furnaces decreased by 3.7%. Oil warm air furnace shipments increased 36.1% for this time period. YTD gas warm air furnaces are up 7.1% with oil warm air furnaces increasing 10.9%. Air conditioning and heat pump shipments were also up for April at 2.6% combined. YTD these units are up 10.4% driven by a 16.1% increase in heat pump shipments. Click here for the full report: AHRI Shipment Data.

Jackson Systems Offers Solution for “Zoning the Impossible”

Zoning is becoming more and more popular in the residential and commercial markets. In residential applications, accessing duct work can present a challenge in existing construction. When bonus rooms and room additions are considered, there may not be duct work running to these areas.

The Motorized Zone Register (MZR™) from Jackson Systems is a low-cost, rugged, metal, motorized zone register designed to work with most forced air zone control systems. It can also be used as a stand-alone register with a wall-mounted thermostat to eliminate over-heating and over-cooling in bonus rooms, sun rooms, guest rooms and basements.

This easy-to-install zone register allows zoning to be installed in almost all residential applications. It is designed to fit most register boots and comes in many sizes, most in both tan and white. There is also a polymer version available for side wall installations.
The MZR is a standard register with a 24VAC spring open/power close actuator. It uses standard gauge thermostat wire (plenum-rated wire may be required if running through duct work.)

The MZR can be wired to a stand-alone thermostat for control of the register in single zone applications, or it can be wired to a zone panel and for multiple zone applications. Up to 6 Motorized Zone Dampers can be connected to a single zone.

The MZR is another innovative solution from Jackson Systems designed to make zoning easier and more profitable for HVAC contractors. For more information, visit zoningregister.com or call is at 888.652.9663.

Selling Comfort Through Controls

Selling zoning systems and smart thermostats is easier than you might think. Homeowners want to be comfortable and save energy. Zoning systems and smart thermostats provide both of these benefits. And just by observing and asking a few simple questions, you can easily sell comfort through controls.

When speaking with homeowners, analogies to other familiar home appliances and features can help them understand how it works. Explaining to consumers the two zones of a refrigerator, one for fresh food and one for frozen food can be helpful. Or ask them if it would make sense to have only one light switch that turns all of the lights in the house on or off. That is essentially what a single thermostat does with the HVAC equipment. One switch heats or cools the entire home.

When you are in the home, look for finished basements or room additions. These can be areas of comfort problems. Ask your customers if they are interested in lowering their utility bills. Independent tests have shown that zoning systems with programmable thermostats can save up to 30% or more on heating and cooling bills. And who is going to say no saving money?

Another revenue stream for your business is smart thermostats. According to the research firm Nielsen, the United States smartphone market is now 55% penetrated. Consumers are using their phones to control alarm systems and entry to their homes. They are viewing their favorite TV programs and movies. Some apps even allow control of television sets. And the list goes on. So much of our world is connected and consumers are hungry for more. So why not control their comfort from their smart device?

As technology continues to get more sophisticated in the smart device market, it is also happening in the HVAC controls market. There are many thermostats on the market that allow control through any smartphone, tablet or computer and most offer free apps to make this control even easier. And consumers are demanding more. In today’s market, there are so many options for smart thermostats. From basic Wi-Fi controlled thermostats that require no additional equipment to more sophisticated, feature-rich models that provide more control of IAQ equipment, there is an option available for nearly any budget and application.

Offering customers better comfort through HVAC controls is a smart business decision, but it is also a great service to your customers. Sometimes just asking a few simple questions can benefit you and your customers. Happy selling!

12 Technical Rules of Thumb for Installing Zoning

Z-300-HPS
1. In most cases, it will not be necessary to modify the duct sizing when installing a zoning system.
2. It is good practice to size the smallest zone to handle approximately 25% of the system CFM.
3. Never undersize ductwork.
4. Upsizing registers in the smallest zone to the next larger size should be considered.
5. You can double the rated CFM of a register before it starts to get noisy.
6. Two-stage equipment is always a better choice.
7. It is always better to slightly undersize the HVAC equipment than to oversize it.
8. Never locate a thermostat in a hallway.
9. Dampers should be installed at least 2 feet away from the plenum, when possible.
10. Always use a separate 24 volt transformer to power the zone panel. Do not use the equipment transformer.
11. Always tag wires, especially from dampers and thermostats.
12. Some basements may require setting the zone thermostat in the auto mode during the cooling season due to cold walls, uninsulated ductwork or leaking ductwork.

For more information on our zoning products, visit jacksonsystems.com.

New Honeywell Talking Thermostat

TH9320WFVThe new Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 universal thermostat with voice control features voice activated recognition and control, allowing the temperature setting to be adjusted in the home by talking to the thermostat. This thermostat uses “Far-Field Voice Technology”, so it recognizes voice commands from across the room, even in a busy home.

With the same great features as the Wi-Fi 9000, this attractive thermostat lets your customers remotely monitor and manage their home’s comfort and energy usage anytime from anywhere. These aesthetically-pleasing touchscreen thermostats connect directly to your customers’ home Wi-Fi in a few simple steps. The plain language on-screen setup and redesigned terminal blocks mean an easier installation for you. The remote access via any smart device means more comfort control for your customers. And the Cloud-based voice recognition software will automatically update as Honeywell adds new voice commands and other enhancements.

Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 with Voice Control Product Brochure

Trust is a Four Letter Word

TrustWell, not really. But it can be if you lose the trust of your customers. Trust is defined by Merriam-Webster as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” But trust means so much more to our customers. Trust is sacrificing time and sometimes money to make sure we get it right. Trust is doing things that are difficult because it is in the best interest of our customers. Trust is why our customers rely on us and why they continue to do business with us. Break that trust and it will become a four letter word.

12 Technical Rules of Thumb for Installing Zoning

Z-300-HPS
1. In most cases, it will not be necessary to modify duct sizing when installing a zoning system.

2. It is a good practice to size the smallest zone to handle approximately 25% of the system CFM.

3. Never undersize the ductwork.

4. Upsizing registers in the smallest zone to the next larger size should be considered.

5. You can double the rated CFM of a register before it starts to become noisy.

6. Multi-stage equipment is always a better choice with a zoning system.

7. It is always better to slightly undersize the HVAC equipment than to oversize it.

8. Never locate a thermostat in a hallway.

9. Dampers should be installed at least 2 feet away from the plenum when possible.

10. Always use a separate 24 volt transformer to power the zone panel. Do not use the equipment transformer.

11. Always tag all wires, especially from dampers and thermostats.

12. Some basements may require setting the zone thermostat in the auto mode during the cooling season for the following reasons: basement walls are cold as a result of being underground, uninsulated ductwork located in the basement acts as a cooling radiator, ductwork leaking air, cold air falls.


For questions about zoning or for a quote on a zoning system, call us at 888.652.9663.

Zoning Selling Tips

zoning floor plan
1. Look for finished basements, add-on rooms or other additions where comfort may be a problem

2. Ask homeowners if there are particular areas in the home that are too hot or too cold.

3. If the homeowner is seeking a second system for their home, zoning may be a more cost effective option.

4. To help customers understand zoning, explain how their refrigerator has two separate zones, one for fresh foods and one for frozen foods.

5. Challenge homeowners to imagine a home with only one light switch that can only turn the lights on or off for the entire house. With a single-thermostat forced air system, they have to condition all of the air to condition any given space. Just like having one light switch to control all of the lights in the house.

Look for future posts on technical tips for installing zoning.

New E-Commerce Site Makes Ordering Easier

E-commerce ShotWe recently updated the look and navigation of our Web site to make it easier to find the great products you are searching for. A large part of this upgrade was improvements to our online ordering system. The new E-commerce tool is easier to use and contains more information about your account. With the new site, past orders can be viewed, quotes can be viewed and changed to orders and you can upload a CSV file of common or repetitive orders. These are just a few of the new features of the site. To help you better take advantage of the new E-commerce offerings, we have created a guide to navigating the site. We hope you find the changes useful and using the site a more enjoyable experience. Download the E-commerce User Guide

Tips for Growing Your Business

I am always reading and searching for information and new knowledge. Recently, I read a great article from the Small Business Administration with tips to grow a standout small business. I found that their Web site has a lot of great information for new business owners, as well as seasoned professionals. Here is a link to “10 Tips to Help You Build and Grow a Stand-Out Small Business Brand”. This really covers some of the basics, but is also a great reminder for those businesses that are already thriving. Enjoy!

Future Workforce Concerns

Steve Coscia

Steve Coscia

At a conference in Baltimore, Steve Coscia engaged an audience of mostly college instructors about the future of the workforce. He shared an interesting research study from Bryant & Stratton College and and Wakefield Research focused on soft skills in the workforce. These soft skills include communication, teamwork, attitude and problem solving. Steve recently shared some of the studies findings on his blog. We wanted to share this important information which will have an on-going impact on the future of our workforce. Click here to read Steve’s post: Education, Evidence and Employment.

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