I’m a wrestling coach when I’m not working, and I often have to remind high school youth that, “Nothing in life is static. You are either getting better than your opponent or they are getting better than you.” And that same message pertains to my fellow “Wet Heads” here in the industry: we need to get better at showing the value of our trade or risk being passed up by other technologies.
That’s my advice because when I speak with many craftsman contractors across the country, several themes emerge: “I am too busy to sell”; “I do not want to deal with connected technologies”; “I do not have the time to attend training classes.” Some of those comments are becoming less common as our industry sees some of the old-timers retire—many of whom still lack an exit strategy beside selling their phone number and company name. There is a real opportunity to be gained from this exodus, which dovetails nicely into emerging energy trends.
How do we merge the escalating public concern for energy efficiencies and the desire for a smarter home with our hydronic heating and cooling comfort installations? The answer is education.
The next generation coming into the trade (for all their shortcomings us Gen Xers want to attribute to them), are more open to listening, learning and selling. They are listening to our counterparts from across the pond with the call to stop wasting energy and our natural resources.
Energy efficiency is not only a necessity, encouraged for the trade by the government, but a sales tool for younger home buyers concerned with their carbon footprint and older buyers concerned about their fixed income and the volatile cost of energy for their retirement home. However, in the words of the band The Who, they are, “air-conditioned gypsies.” Consumers want to be environmental conscious without sacrificing comfort. This is the time us Wet Heads can especially answer their call.
There is a seismic shift occurring right now in the United States toward heat pump equipment that cannot be ignored. According to the May 2021 AHRI shipment report to distributors in the U.S., heat pump shipments were up 49% over May 2020 and up 27% versus the average shipment rate from 2018–2020.
This trend to heat pump technology is being driven by the efficiency of using electricity to heat AND cool from a single piece of equipment, governmental legislation and utility incentives. Federal and state government energy plans (such as New York aiming for 100% renewable electricity by 2030) are shaping this market. They are driving up the interest for newer technologies to be utilized.
As manufacturers see the demand for these types of equipment, they tend to spend more resources developing them. For example, the affordable inverter technology allows for highly efficient, externally grid-controlled units, which make it possible for the utilities to manage power consumption and utilize off peak control with demand response. Couple this with the federal infrastructure spending focused on renewable energies, these types of units are going to be one of the best solutions for the future. How are we Wet Heads going to respond?
Our Response, Our Responsibility
It is our responsibility as an industry to offer our customers the best solution that provides comfort and energy efficiency to the end user. The partnership between manufacturers and the trade to educate the professional installer base is critical to the proper design and installation of these technologies. And their overall adoption.
These systems can provide the best of what hydronics has to offer as a comfort system and the ability to provide cooling for year-round climate control comfort. Embracing this technology in conjunction with hydronics will be critical to moving the hydronic industry forward. If we don’t promote the development of these systems, hydronics could be displaced by mini-splits as a comparable alternative. This would result in a loss of the benefits gained from a radiant system, which provides a level of comfort and efficiency that is far superior to moving and conditioning air in a space.
We must sell our industry to a new generation of consumers who are yearning for energy efficiency and comfort. This is our time, Wet Heads of all ages. Whether you’re looking to retire in the coming years, or have a lot of time left in the industry, let’s step even deeper into the arena and answer the call!
Jason Abajian is the North America Water Sales Manager for Resideo’s Hydronic & Potable Water Solutions. Jason has spent more than 15 years working in the HVAC industry for Resideo Technologies, and previously Honeywell International. With a passion for education and making an impact on future generations, Jason worked for an HVAC installer in the summer, and was a high school teacher during the school year. What started as a summer gig turned into an ideal springboard for his purpose-driven career as a “Wet Head.” Jason is proud to work for an industry that can inspire others and deliver superior craftmanship, comfort and control with minimized environmental impact.