If you're a comfort advisor, an owner, or a sales leader in an HVAC business - Identifying, and then selling the right system for a home is one of the most important things you do every day. It's the core of the business - but it certainly can be time consuming.
When it comes to system sizing and HVAC load calculations, they take time and energy. They're powerful for your install coordinators and teams - and they can be powerful for you too to help convert more, and higher ticket sales. In this article, we focus on how using load calculations, like ACCA's Manual J load calculation, can drive sales - transforming it from important internal work, to something that helps you differentiate on site.
II. Understanding HVAC Load Calculations
We all know what an HVAC load calculation is - it's the evaluation of the heating loads and cooling loads of a building based on the materials and components of a home that determine heat transfer inside and outside of the home. It can serve as an incredible starting point when it comes to optimizing home comfort.
When it comes to optimizing a homeowner's comfort, energy efficiency typically follows. Optimizing comfort requires attention to the building materials (e.g., the materials that compose the windows, walls, doors, ceilings and floors), the ductwork that's in place, the current systems, and how the homeowner is currently experiencing their system (are there hot and cold spots? Rooms that are always uncomfortable?). To get to an accurate Manual J HVAC load calculation, you will need the following:
- Building dimensions and orientation: While laser tape measures are most commonly used, LiDAR-based software can enable a rapid understanding of home dimensions.
- Insulation levels in walls, ceilings, and floors; air sealing of attics and basements: evaluating insulation levels through observation of insulation types and depths is important as a baseline for heat transfer.
- Window types, sizes, and orientation: evaluating the window's composition (e.g., number of panes and coating), as well as the size and directions are critical to understanding the solar heat gain stemming from windows.
- Infiltration rates and air leakage of the home: evaluating using a thermal imaging camera or blower door test often will yield the most accurate results.
- Occupancy schedules and internal heat gains:observing the different appliances and equipment, as well as understanding occupancy levels from homeowners, are important inputs to understand additional sources of heat in the home.
- Climate data for the region: simple lookups into the region's ASHRAE data can help identify the design conditions for which a system is sized.
As you know, each of these factors is incorporated into the load calculation. Your room-by-room load calculation will then serve as a means to summarize what we know about the home, and its needs - and serve as the foundation for system sizing.
III. Benefits of HVAC Load Calculations for Residential Retrofit Applications
Your thoughtful evaluation of a home with a load calculation yields a number of benefits for homeowners - all of which can be thoughtfully integrated into the explanation of the process. Together, this can set you apart from your competitors, by highlighting the following key benefits:
- Enhanced Comfort: By matching the right HVAC equipment to the specific heating and cooling needs of a retrofit project, homeowners get the right sized system and selection for their home. A survey conducted by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) organization revealed that 87% of homeowners experienced improved comfort and energy efficiency after having their HVAC systems sized correctly using load calculations.
- Energy Efficiency: Load calculation helps drive towards right sizing of the HVAC system, which can help reduce short cycling of equipment such as air conditioning units and heat pumps. In fact, right sizing alone has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce energy wastage of up to 30% or more in residential buildings.
- Cost Savings: For homeowners, right-sizing systems can often lead to reduced system sizes, given improvements made over time to the building envelope made over the lifetime of the prior system. This can reduce upfront costs for homeowners, while also mitigating ongoing energy expenditures.
- Longevity of Equipment: Correctly sized systems operate more efficiently and experience less wear and tear, potentially extending the lifespan of the HVAC equipment. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) estimates that proper load calculations can extend the lifespan of HVAC equipment by up to 15%, resulting in cost savings for homeowners.
IV. The Role of Comfort Advisors and Selling Service Technicians in using HVAC Load Calculations as a Sales Tool
All of this HVAC load calculation and system sizing work is compelling - but how can it help your sales?
When you show up and show the homeowner your expertise - it shines. A Manual J load calculation is often both required for permit paperwork and other operational work, but when explained as part of the customized proposal, can showcase the value you bring. Ultimately, your focus is on building trust with the homeowner, and your ability to explain - with the help of numbers and visuals - can help accelerate that process.
In fact, as you explain the work you're doing in the home - you can use it as a way to highlight comfort, energy savings, and cost-effectiveness. There are also a few insights you can leverage:
- Efficiency gains: Load calculation software can both yield the expected reduction in load based on building envelope and HVAC system changes, but also help identify energy efficiency improvements for homeowners.
- Comfort improvements: How your right sized system compares to their prior system, and the comfort challenges it will help solve. Visuals, like those provided by Conduit Tech's HVAC software, that show customized imagery of the home, combined with clear documentation of the challenges experienced, can help tell this story.
- Cost efficacy: A clear explanation of the incentives (like those provided by the IRA) and benefits that may be applicable with the suggested equipment
Your job isn't easy, but you can leverage the work you're already doing in every home to accelerate your sales. Load calculations can be a way to streamline your workflow and help communicate with the install team - while helping you make the sale. With next generation tools, like Conduit Tech's, you can streamline your load calculation and sales process with 3D models, 2D floor plans, load calculations and customized sales materials - all in less than 15 minutes on a mobile app. If you're hoping to learn more about load calculations, sales processes, or how to leverage new technology to differentiate your process, book a time with us!