We all know that timely filter changes almost always guarantee three things: a full and healthy life for a heating and cooling system, utility bills that stay “in check,” and better indoor air quality for homeowners. At a minimum, air filters should be changed at last every 2-3 months and for these three very good reasons. But, like they say…out of sight many times is out of mind!
#FilterFetch™ is a contractor filter home delivery program for its customers to ensure they always have the filters they need on hand so that they NEVER miss a scheduled filter change. FilterFetch will help you add more value, remain more competitive, and increase your profits with your HVAC preventive maintenance program. Best of all, FilterFetch costs contractors NOTHING!
In addition to providing the filters and filter change reminders, FilterFetch will keep you top of mind with your homeowners by branding the program as your own. A FilterFetch link can be added to your website, which will link to a landing page at the FilterFetch website with your logo and branding. Your customers will appreciate this extra service and recognize it as one YOU provide them…not us for you!
Participating contractors also name the price for filters. Add whatever margin you want and we’ll put your prices on our filters. You’ll enjoy rebates direct to contractor as part of your participation. (Call and we can explain this further).
Give your Jackson Systems representative a call to learn how you can start offering this air filter home delivery service to your homeowners and boost your profits!
Jackson Systems is excited to announce the 20-year anniversary of the company. Established in 1997, Jackson Systems started in the garage of Ron Jackson along with his wife and son Tom. Shortly thereafter, they moved to a small office and as the business grew they looked for property to build an office with warehouse space. In 2003 they moved to their current location on the South side of Indianapolis. The company has since grown to 50 employees and expanded it’s warehouse several times.
“I would like to thank the several thousand industry friends and customers that have allowed me to help them solve their control problems over the years. This has been a very fulfilling career” states founder Ron Jackson who has been in the HVAC Controls business for over 50 years.
Tom Jackson, CEO proclaimed “Wow! It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed! I have been involved with Jackson Systems longer than my kids have been alive and even married to my awesome wife, Jane. I am truly blessed to be business partners with my parents, Ron and Bette; who continue to be the dynamic guidance for Jackson Systems. And as for our team, I am thankful they have kept us rooted in the belief of “work hard and play hard”. Another special thank you to our clients and vendor partners. We are indebted to you for believing in our products and services. While I do not know what the next 20 years will bring, my vision is to continue to serve others while enjoying life.”
Jackson Systems’ commitment to continue as a family owned business has cultivated a culture of loyal employees with the same vision. Throughout the last 20 years, they have won many industry awards for their innovative products and have been voted Best Place to Work in Indiana four times. They continue to pride themselves on quality products and outstanding customer service.
I thought I knew all about this topic, but I did not really get a grip on this until a few years ago while preparing to teach the subject. If you’re looking for the ultimate motivator for learning, I highly recommend getting hired to train a room full of experienced contractors so you can stand in front of them and preach, “This is how it is!”
The topic (this time), is moisture. Recall in the past we knew a home had a moisture load (or latent heat load) that needed to be managed, but we also knew our cold AC coil did a remarkable job of sucking the water out of the air. Even if you did not understand the psychrometric chart or read the AC manufacturer’s latent capacity specs, you still learned all about the great moisture removal abilities of an air conditioner the first time you forgot to hook up the condensate pipe. What a mess!
So what have I learned recently that makes me think I deserve your attention for the next few minutes? I now understand the potential water volume in air, and I appreciate the high levels of moisture we have in the Midwest for a large portion of the year.
Don’t stop reading because you have already read about moisture control. You are right, it is a topic frequently talked about today. However, I do not think many in our business are following through and helping the customer understand. It is time for all of us to sign up for a class on moisture. We can no longer ignore our professional responsibility to understand and control the humidity in our customer’s home.
Are you afraid of the psychrometric chart? Well, I am. Maybe not so much afraid as overwhelmed by how much information it reveals. Fortunately, you do not need to know it all. In fact, I do not even “work the chart” in my short class, but let’s remind ourselves on a few of the basics:
In the summer, in humid climates, we would like to comfort our homes to about 55% Relative Humidity. A dryer 50% RH is even better.
Outside air is beginning to feel uncomfortably humid at a dew point temperature of 60 degrees.
Outside air at 60 degree dew point brought inside an air conditioned home at 75 degrees will result in 60% RH. Too high.
Outside air at 65 degree dew point brought inside an air conditioned home at 75 degrees will result in 70% RH. Much too high. Bad things can start to happen, depending on how much of this moist air you allow inside.
Outside air at 70 degree dew point? Throw me a life jacket and snorkel!
So what? The air conditioner runs and we’re all fine, right? Two things are different now, compared to the past:
Home Performance measures for existing homes (or building energy efficient new homes) helps our homes become more energy efficient, but now the AC runs less.
Sometimes we deliberately suck in outside air that is above 60 degree dew point.
Either of these two actions on their own can cause moisture issues. Having both could be double trouble. Sometimes these measures simply affect the homeowner’s comfort. Sometimes there is so much moisture we cause health and structural problems. Who’s responsible? You. You are the expert. You must understand moisture.
What do you need to do?
The first step is to understand dew point and track it! This is an easy measuring stick for how much water is in the air, and you need to follow it. It’s on your weather app on your phone. Look at this number as frequently as you check the radar. Appreciate that some climates are very humid.
The summer so far in Indiana has been terrible. Wanna see it? Go to WeatherSpark.com. This is my favorite site to view historical Dew Point. The link below is for my city in Indiana, but you can change it to your city. This is a great resource when you learn to navigate through all the adjustments.
Note the dew point levels during the week I wrote this article. Those are serious moisture levels! Now notice the temperatures (Dry bulb) for this period. Not too hot, and especially if your home is energy efficient like mine, then there is not too much load on the AC.
My geothermal heat pump did not run too much that week, and not nearly enough for adequate moisture removal, but I was very comfortable thanks to my whole house dehumidifier. Fortunately, I did not let much of that Indiana soup into my home, other than a few, normal exhaust fan run times, clothes dryer exhaust, and normal door traffic. I condition to a very comfortable 76 degrees and 45% RH. Half my home is over a basement and the other over a sealed crawl space, and both are dry and odor free.
This is not the way it was in the past. I love the outdoors and in the past I kept my home open as much as possible. Odors grew downstairs, and spent portable dehumidifiers piled up in the basement.
Not so anymore! Once I condition my home in terms of temperature, humidity, and even pollens and dust, then I like to keep it that way. Sure, I still keep a lookout for “fresh” air and bring it in when it is available, but for some stretches of time in the Midwest, “fresh” is rare and I do not intentionally allow the Indiana soup to get into my home.
What about mandatory residential ventilation? (Oops, will you look at that. We are almost out of room for this article and we will need to cut it short.) Briefly, until we have more time, yes fresh air makes sense; lots of it for some situations, much less for others. But with what I know about moisture, I think we are blindly rushing into problems with indiscriminate ventilation. Ventilation timing and moisture knowledge is critical. In many areas, ventilation strategies must include a dehumidifier. And by the way: An ERV is not a Dehumidifier. (Related article http://www.ie3media.com/erv/)
Incidentally, I could go for a good dose of fresh air right now. Let’s see, checking the dew point map, I wonder what size duct I might need to bring in 100 cfm of fresh air from Ely, Minnesota to Indianapolis?
Tons of studies have been done on how to increase Web site hits and usage. Of all of this research, one clear message stands out. Use of videos on your Web site (and with your social media posts), increase the rate of interaction with your site (and social posts.) You don’t need a high end studio to produce great videos. From instructional to testimonial, videos are easier to create than you might think. A simple Webcam or even a quality cell phone camera can create videos to share with your clients. There are many online (free) tools to help with video editing. YouTube offers a simple tool called Video Editor. One of the benefits of this is you can edit and post all in one spot. Videos should show your personality while engaging your clients. Keep them short, 2 – 5 minutes, and informative. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Humor is one of the best ways to engage your audience. We use a great online tool called Powtoon to create presentations, training videos, informational videos and more. There is free version available and it is easy to learn. So don’t be afraid to spend a little time creating some short clips about your company or team members. Even the most basic videos can go a long way to increase your Web presence.
There is a great new product on the market from Belimo. The ZIP Economizer makes installing an economizer in a new or retrofit application very simple.
“ZIP” stands for “ZIP code” – 5 little numbers that the installer keys in to automatically set up the ZIP Economizer for maximum energy savings in a given climate zone. No consulting temperature curves, no cross-referencing with energy codes, no operation manuals and no erroneous factory default settings.
This new product features onboard setup and diagnostics, alarm notifications, an automotive quality LCD and more. It also offers expansion modules for more functionlities, such as two-speed fan and Demand Control Ventiliation. There is even a communications module that provides alarm output and firmware updates.
The ZIP from Belimo will save contractors time and money when installing new or retrofit economizers. For more information, click here Belimo ZIP Economizer
ACCA, the nation’s largest association of indoor environmental systems professionals, recently published a great article urging manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment and controls to adopt universal communication protocols for “equipment commissioning and on-going diagnosis for the purposes of ensuring that HVAC equipment is properly installed and maintained.” Many manufacturers maintain proprietary protocols for communications, creating many different systems for technicians to learn and limited cross platform between different manufacturers’ systems.
There are many factors that impact the usability of a Web site. From the look of the site to how easy it is to navigate, can impact a customers decision to do business with you. Also remember, effective Web design is judged by your customers, not you.
When designing (or redesigning) your site, you first must determine what you want users to get from the experience. This will guide the look and information you include on your site. Also keep in mind, customers using the Internet tend to want information quickly, so be clear and make the information easy to understand.
Don’t get cute with fonts. It is easy to litter a site with too many different fonts. San serif fonts work the best. Try to not use more than 3 fonts in your site to keep it simple.
Navigation is key. This determines how people move around your site. Use breadcrumbs (links at the top of the page to navigate users back to a particular page), arrange content into sections, keep menus simple and easy to understand.
Finally, studies show people scan computer screens in an “F” pattern, first viewing the top and left of the screen. Use this natural behavior to cater to your customers.
There are many great Web site building tools available online, so you don’t have to be a designer or a coder to create a beautiful and usable site. Take queues from the sites you visit often and don’t be afraid to make changes if you are not getting the results you expect. Happy Web site building!
There are so many systems developed to help you manage your time. Problem is these systems manage “clock time” – or the 24 hours in a day. Unless your job and life are so structured that you can actually plan the day around every minute, clock time management is not very useful. “Real Time” management is the key to making the most of your day. And possibly relieving some of the stress of feeling like you have to manage every minute of clock time.
Real time is a mental process. We create real time. Real time drags or flies by. The good news is we can control real time because it is in our heads. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions.
Here is a link to the full article with 10 tips on how to manage your time. It’s worth your time to read it!
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.
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.
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.
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 ICORs 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 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.
Steve 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.
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 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.
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 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!