As HVAC contractors ramp up to market and sell 13 SEER air conditioners, they'll be pleased to know that consumers are all ears when it comes to learning more about air conditioning efficiency and comfort.

A survey by Emerson Climate Technologies finds that 90% of homeowners with central air conditioning do not know the efficiency rating of their central air conditioning system, and are unaware of the approaching 13 SEER for units manufactured after January 23, 2006. Eighty percent say there is a need for more consumer education on the upcoming transition to 13 SEER.

As reported first in the June 2005 issue of Contracting Business, 77% of HVAC contractors surveyed by Emerson in the spring say they will be ready to sell and install 13 SEER units by the January 2006 deadline. But while the new homeowner survey indicates contractors have some work to do on the marketing communications front, the good news is they now have a better idea of where they should concentrate their efforts.

Other survey findings:

  • Lower energy costs, high reliability, improved air quality and consistent temperature and humidity control are prime features consumers say they look for when buying a new air conditioner.
  • 88% of homeowners say lower energy costs are "very important" when choosing an air conditioner.
  • High reliability (86%), improved air quality (71%), consistent temperature and humidity control (74%), and quieter operating sound (56%) are ranked as "very important."

"The lack of awareness of the SEER standard change is startling, when contrasted with the fact that 88% of homeowners rank lower operating costs and utility bills as important when shopping for a new central air conditioner," says William G. Sutton, president of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute.

"This survey shows that consumers crave more education on this issue."

New Consumer Outreach Planned.
Emerson Climate Technologies is launching "Get SEERious," a program designed to increase homeowners' knowledge of 13 SEER and prepare contractors to talk to homeowners about the upcoming transition. The program includes a website — www.getSEERious.com with information about SEER ratings and related topics. Emerson Climate Technologies also reports it has been working with manufacturers now redesigning product lines to meet the higher efficiency standard by January, and with HVAC contractors, to increase contractor awareness of and preparedness for the 13 SEER transition.

"This survey echoes what contractors are hearing when we talk with our customers," says Paul T. Stalknecht, president and CEO, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) "We're glad that Emerson is helping draw public attention to the 13 SEER transition and helping us."

(Ed. note:The 2005 Home Air Conditioning Test was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation between March 18-21, 2005. A total of 501 telephone interviews were conducted with a national sample of adults, 18 years of age and older, who own their homes and have central air conditioning. Sampling error is no more than +/– 5 percentage points.)