New Jersey Contractor Profits from Home Performance Audits

The economic downturn has presented many HVAC contractors with difficult business conditions. However, some have refused to sit and wait for things to improve; they continue to search for innovative ways to grow their businesses.

Princeton Air Conditioning, Princeton, NJ is one example of just such a company. To combat a decline in sales and employee reductions, this 39-year-old company added residential home performance contracting (HPC) to its slate of services.

President Scott Needham and CEO Joe Needham tell ContractingBusiness.com that HPC helped them transform their business, create new jobs, and grow significantly in a poor economy. In the first year of offering HPC, Princeton Air generated nearly $1.5 million in home performance sales.

“After the summer 2008 cooling season generated fewer sales than expected and we had to lay workers off, we knew we had to do something different and find new sources of revenue,” explains Scott Needham. “We had been hearing about a new industry called Home Performance Contracting and knew it was what we needed. We analyzed the market, found a leading provider to help, and then took a leap of faith and jumped in.”

Princeton Air established its residential HPC division in December 2008, with help from national HPC provider and franchisor GreenHomes America®. GreenHomes had a complete business model to help Princeton Air get up and running with HPC quickly. Within a few months, the new division proved to be a substantial revenue source for the company. It also began driving more business to its existing residential and commercial HVAC businesses.

The Home as an Integrated System

Home Performance Contracting is built on the principles of building science. It treats a house as a completely integrated system. Instead of focusing on a single home component to solve the most common comfort and energy issues, HPC considers how all components work together more efficiently to provide an optimal in-home environment.

HPC starts with a comprehensive home energy audit performed by a certified building analyst. Using advanced technology tools — including an infrared camera, blower door, manometer, and computerized modeling — the building analyst is able to accurately pinpoint the root sources of a home's problems. The audit determines air leakage rates; measures the efficiency of cooling and heating systems; and determines the effectiveness of insulation, ducts, windows, doors, and more. In addition, all combustion equipment is tested for carbon monoxide levels and gas leaks. The audit also provides a complete energy usage footprint for the home.

The building analyst evaluates the results of the energy audit and recommends a customized solution that typically includes a combination of air and duct sealing, added wall and attic insulation, heating and cooling system tune-up or replacement, window and door replacement, and new lighting or appliances.

Once the recommended solution is chosen by the customer, installation crews retrofit the home. When complete, the home energy audit is performed again to ensure all issues are fixed and the project is successful. Typically, homeowners feel more comfortable right away and the house is guaranteed to use 25% less energy.

With help from GreenHomes, Princeton began running home energy audits early in 2009. The demand was so high they had to hire a second advisor within a few months. Today, they have three full-time advisors quoting over 15 jobs per week and three full-time installation crews. They plan to hire a fourth advisor and fourth installation crew to meet the growing demand.
http://bit.ly/cbprinceton; greenhomesamerica.com

Hobaica Donates $46,000 in HVAC Units to Needy Families

Phoenix, AZ-based heating and cooling contractor, Hobaica Services, Inc.'s 2009 BEGIN holiday program resulted in $46,375 in heating and cooling system donations to disadvantaged Phoenix residents.

This is the second year for the BEGIN program — Business Entities Getting Involved in our Neighborhoods. Community residents were asked to nominate deserving people they knew who were in need of a new HVAC system. In turn, Hobaica Services gave away one home comfort system per week in November and December to residents whose HVAC systems were in disrepair, or whose homes had no cooling systems whatesoever.

Nineteen local businesses donated services and resources, such as thermostats, metal products, crane services, air distribution materials, and heating and cooling units.

“We've been so touched by the outpouring of community support for the BEGIN program, from the 19 businesses that have given their time and resources, to the local residents who nominated deserving people they knew who were in need,” says Paul Hobaica, president of Hobaica Services, Inc.
http://bit.ly/CBhobaicaBEGIN

Yes! Founder Donates $50,000 to Nevada College HVACR Progam

Yes! Air Conditioning and Plumbing, Las Vegas, NV, has donated $50,000 to the J. Duncan Goodrich Air Conditioning Technology Endowment at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN).

An initial $100,000 endowment had been established in 2009 by Yes! owner and founder Kenneth D. Goodrich, in honor of his father, J. Duncan Goodrich. J. Duncan was a pioneer in the Southern Nevada air conditioning industry. The fund will be used for scholarship disbursement and new equipment for the CSN Air Conditioning Technology Program. The program is nationally accredited by the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation. It prepares workers for the installation, service, troubleshooting, and repair of residential heating and cooling systems.
chooseyes.com

RSES Website Debuts, with New Look, New Tools for Members

The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) has launched a redesigned website, at rses.org. According to RSES sources, the website's been given a fresh look, new user-friendly tools and other helpful features.

Website additions include: RSS feeds; e-alerts; quick polls; photo galleries; an e-mail-a-friend sharing feature; the latest industry news from RSES Journal staff; and an events calendar, including event registration options for select industry events.
rses.org

EMCOR Subsidiary Lands San Diego Courthouse Project

EMCOR Group, Inc. announced that its University Mechanical & Engineering Contractors (UMEC) subsidiary has received a contract for the installation of mechanical systems at the new U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown San Diego, CA.

UMEC will install all mechanical and plumbing systems at the 17-story, 465,000 sq.ft. courthouse. The building will house six courtrooms, 12 judges' chambers, government offices and public spaces, and an underground parking garage. UMEC will also help to renovate the lobby of the existing Edward J. Schwartz U.S. Federal Courthouse. http://bit.ly/CBUMEC

THIS MONTH IN CB HISTORY…

1999: This issue featured our annual residential market forecast, based on surveys of industry experts. Respondents were positive about what 1999 had to offer, with some qualifications. New construction was expected to decline, but service and retrofit/replacement were poised for further growth. Reported “megatrends” affecting the construction industry included: clarification of value in construction; specialization and niche focus; continued evolution of delivery processes; and employee ownership.

The February 1999 issue also profiled the Contracting Business Residential Contractor of the Year, All Makes Heating and Air Conditioning, Eastchester, NY.

EVENTS

ACCA - Air Conditioning Contractors of America 42nd Annual Conference, Mar. 7-9, Tampa, FL; acca.org.

HVAC Excellence Educators & Trainers Conference, Mar. 14-16, Las Vegas, NV; hvacexcellence.org.

HVACR & Plumbing Instructor Workshop, “Advancing Green Mechanical Concepts,” Mar. 24-26, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA; instructorworkshop.org.

NADCA - National Air Duct Cleaners Association Annual Meeting & Exposition, Mar. 27-30, Tucson, AZ; nadc.com.

MCAA - Mechanical Contractors Association of America Annual Convention, Mar. 28-April 1, San Francisco, CA; mcaa.org/mcaa2010.