We hear all to often from home owners who bought expensive high eff. equipment that neither saved them money nor met their comfort requirements. Are we not doing a dis-service to our clients if we do not do the "Mandatory" Load Calc., Duct design, and or duct sealing, and a blower door? It seems the money would be better spent on 14 SEER / 80% equipment with a properly designed and installed system than strictly on high seer equipment that really doesn't meet that requirement.
My question is, are we selling high end equipment to make high end profits at the expense of our reputations and the customers wallet? We continuously lose jobs to the aforementioned installs by other unscrupulous companies. Education, in my opinion is first and foremost our job when meeting prospective clients. They must be aware of whats happening and be educated.
Just looking for input from others dealing with this and what types of recourse you have taken to combat it.
I'm a big fan of the "Up front contract" meaning I set realistic expectations and best order of operations. I do energy audits all the time where people are stoked on getting solar systems installed but they aren't taking care of the low hanging fruit right off the bat. Solar systems, high efficiency furnace/boilers, house wide window replacements, upgraded appliances, etc. are all well and good but it absolutely makes the most sense to pursue the easy upgrades first. They have the lowest up front cost, best return on investment, and often enough the most impact. In lieu of the big ticket items I always stress the importance of air sealing and insulation first since those have the most impact. Once the glaring issues that are found during any energy audit are handled then it is time to pursue the "sexier" upgrades.
Horace wrote: "It seems the money would be better spent on 14 SEER / 80% equipment with a properly designed and installed system than strictly on high seer equipment that really doesn't meet that requirement."
I agree that proper design and installation is paramount. This includes QA -- not just on hvac equipment & ducts, but on the integrity of the air and thermal barriers. The irony with this is that the more efficient we make the as-built shell, the less we can justify the most efficient equipment.
I would only qualify this in one respect... 80% (atmospheric) furnaces and water heaters have no place in homes built to today's energy codes, and I would argue that building codes should require mechanicals to be located inside the thermal enclosure. In practical terms, that means the baseline for combustion appliances in new construction should be 90%.
I too agree that it's time to start phasing out 80% as well as any natural draft appliances. Far too many issues with venting when something isn't sealed combustion with an exhaust fan doing the work.
I too do not wish to see 80% equipment in homes, it was a point i was making.
You my friend, have hit on pay dirt with this topic! There are many factors involved in ROI. And WE, In my opinion, as a society at large AND as energy professionals, are woefully ill equipped and ignorant to the science and economics involved in making good energy decisions. We don't need to be perfect, just being "good" at it would be thrilling.
As a simple example: if you ask multiple HVAC technicians in a room if it's better to lower/raise a thermostat or leave it set the same to save energy during vacancy or overnight periods, the answers (and reasoning) they give to homeowners are abysmal.
To combat this, you have to invest heavily in the whole package. Join your associations, ally with your utilities, collaborate with schools, educate your teams, and tell your story better than the Low Dollar Charlie. You need finance packages to offer. Get paid well for your good work, walk away from money losing traps. Encourage your faithful and happy customers to leave positive feedback in media to help others find their way to you!
Thanks for the good work out there!