While it may be hard to believe, Honeywell has played a role in keeping people comfortable at home and at work for more than 125 years around the world with thermostats and HVAC systems. Before anyone even invented the term “home comfort solutions,” Honeywell was already doing it.

As homes and buildings have evolved over the years, Honeywell has kept pace with new technologies that balance comfort and energy savings. Indeed, Honeywell's range of products and systems can match virtually any budget, lifestyle and configuration. Today, Honeywell's home comfort and energy services business delivers a wide range of products that utilize the expertise and innovation of Honeywell's engineers and product designers. This includes such products as thermostats, ventilation systems, air cleaners and humidification and dehumidification systems.

Two products sum up the reach of Honeywell's products in the comfort and controls markets: Honeywell's iconic T-86 round thermostat, introduced in 1953, is one of the world's most recognizable designs and is now sold as the mercury-free, The Round. Then there is Honeywell's most recent innovation - the Prestige® IAQ Comfort System, a 7-day programmable thermostat with high-definition and full-color display that can adjust temperature from anywhere in the home. This product represents how far technology has come.

But the Honeywell story is not just about the power of technology, says Ryan Strassburg, Honeywell's director of marketing for its home comfort and energy services business. It's also about understanding what people want in their home and work environments. “We are creating products and services that give the homeowner easier access to making home heating and cooling comfort choices that match their lifestyle,” he says. “And that preference is somewhat unique for each homeowner.”

As homes and buildings become increasingly energy efficient and more connected to computer networks, Honeywell has parlayed its expertise and innovation in sensing and controls into greater options for consumers. And consumers want these options and the control that it gives them to manage both their comfort and energy use. “Ultimately, the convenience is there so they can make the decisions that are right for them,” Strassburg says.

Perhaps no product in the Honeywell lineup represents the nexus between comfort and energy savings better than its Prestige programmable thermostat. Easy to install, easy to use and generating savings of up to 33 percent on annual heating and cooling costs when used as directed, these programmable thermostats tap into the issues that are top of mind with consumers. “When it comes to thermostats, the Prestige offers the homeowner ultimate flexibility, from an Energy Efficiency Minder to Smart Schedule - a patented methodology to schedule itself in seconds,” Strassburg says. The Prestige was the first thermostat to offer full color display and he adds that homeowners can have fun changing the display color to complement the décor in their home.

Through Honeywell's proprietary RedLINK Wireless Technology - and a full-suite of wireless-enabled accessories - contractors can better meet consumers' comfort needs. Accessory add-ons offer comfort through the control of temperature, fan, humidification and dehumidification. Honeywell's Total Connect Comfort System, which launched last year, is the portal that allows people to remotely access and control their heating and cooling system through a computer, tablet or smartphone.

According to Strassburg, Honeywell's Total Connect Comfort System represents another product that is resonating with consumers because it links technology and what people expect from all of their products in today's wired world. This web-based portal is designed for residential and light commercial properties. Users can create and activate their Total Connect Comfort Services account at www.mytotalconnectcomfort.com.

Honeywell's Total Connect Comfort allows distributors to broaden their product portfolios, offering contractors a system that represents the future of HVAC technology: smart, networked connectivity. The same holds true for contractors, who can demonstrate to their customers how a product like Total Connect Comfort can make their system more energy efficient and increase their comfort. This represents an opportunity to build relationships with them as solutions experts and not just technicians and installers.

So how does Honeywell know what's happening with its end-user customers? Through total immersion with customers at all stages of the supply chain - from distributors through contractors down to the people who are using Honeywell products in their homes and buildings. Honeywell is a firm believer in the voice of the customer. “All levels of management, including our president, spend weeks in the field every year understanding the marketplace,” Strassburg says. “In addition, we participate in distributor round tables - some of which are hosted by associations and some which we hold periodically at our Golden Valley (Minnesota) headquarters.”

In addition to the field research, interviews and round tables, Honeywell funds research that focuses on how consumers interact with Honeywell during the early stages of the sales process. In most cases, this begins when a customer goes to the Internet and searches for a specific HVAC product or Honeywell. This research also extends to what consumers do with the products once they are installed. How does the consumer use the product and interact with it? In every case, Strassburg says, “we want our customers to have a five-star experience.”

Honeywell's approach to its end-user consumers is about solving problems. On its consumer website (yourhome.honeywell.com), it has a section devoted to some of the issues that consumers face in their homes. Honeywell positions its humidification systems, including its TrueSTEAM and TrueEASE series that are installed directly into the central heating and cooling system, as the solution to maintain proper humidity levels that create greater comfort and energy efficiency and protect woodwork. Its TrueDRY whole house dehumidification systems take moisture out of the air.

To promote its indoor air cleaners, Honeywell focuses on the health benefits of improved indoor air quality through its whole-house air cleaners like the TrueCLEAN enhanced air cleaner. Honeywell also touts the benefits of easy maintenance for consumers, offering filters that are either renewable (washed only once a year) or replaceable (once or twice a year). Its TrueFRESH ventilation systems offer similar benefits, bringing fresh air into the home and recovering up to 70 percent of the heat in cold weather or cooling in warm weather from the air leaving the home.

Consumers, contractors and distributors respond to these messages, Strassburg asserts, because Honeywell has earned their confidence. “Honeywell is a trusted brand that has been in the HVAC industry for over 100 years,” he says. “We stand by our customers in regards to business practice, product quality and new products. Our customers understand Honeywell will support them and give them the attention they need to be successful in growing their business.”

Strassburg characterizes Honeywell's distributors as its first line of communication to contractors. The company is “committed to the two-step distribution model” because wholesale distributors are valued partners who can reach the contractor base. With engaged and informed distributors, Honeywell is better able to get its products and messages to these contractors. When contractors can more easily sell, install and service Honeywell products, it helps to ensure the company's long-term success.

To supplement its distributor support teams, Honeywell also has a contractor-focused sales team that works with partner distributors on earning business from contractors. Strassburg says they communicate with them through traditional methods, such as advertising and email. In Honeywell's view, the entire supply chain - from Honeywell itself through the contractors - needs to “be the preferred provider in delivering these solutions,” he says. “Distributors are valued partners in reaching the contractor base and are an important part of providing support,” Strassburg says.

The Honeywell consumer website also supports contractors, recommending their “local heating and cooling professional” to help them with issues, such as hot and cold spots in their homes. The website discusses solutions such as forced air zoning, hydronic heating and thermostats with precise temperature control as ways to address comfort issues. This is part of Honeywell's strategy to reach consumers directly, while promoting the contractors who can provide this expertise. As consumers learn more about the HVAC solutions that are available to them, they'll reach out to contractors who, in turn, rely on their distributors for the Honeywell products.

“Our message to the consumer is all about allowing them access to control their comfort levels in their home. Traditionally, our industry has relied on the contractor to help sell products,” Strassburg says. “We are beginning to reach out to the consumer directly, letting them know about the products Honey-well offers and about the professional contractors who can install a Honeywell system in their home.”

Throughout its history, Honeywell has focused on comfort and energy savings. With each generation of products that it brings to the market, Honeywell is better able to provide these services to consumers. “The challenge is finding the balance between the two,” Strassburg says. “Given the economy and attention to rising energy costs, Honeywell has been in a great position to offer products like energy-savings programmable thermostats that are easy to install, easy to use and thus make it easy for consumers to save money - all while maintaining comfort in the home.”


Michael Maynard is a contributing editor based in Providence, RI. He writes frequently on HVACR, construction and architecture issues. Contact him at michael.maynard@lycos.com.

Honeywell Environmental & Combustion Controls at a Glance

President: Beth Wozniak, Environmental & Combustion Controls
Headquarters: Honeywell - Environmental & Combustion Controls Golden Valley, MN
Operations: Manufacturers of thermostats, indoor air quality products, water products and residential combustion controls, commercial combustion controls, residential combustion controls
Employees: Environmental & Combustion Controls is part of Honeywell, a global company with approximately 132,000 employees
Major Residential Product Lines: Prestige® IAQ, VisionPRO®, FocusPRO®, Glowfly®
Annual Sales: Environmental Combustion Controls, $2.8 billion
Website: www.customer.honeywell.com
Year Founded: 1885

Best Practice

Prestige® IAQ 2.0 with RedLINK technology and accessories provide solutions for homeowner HVAC equipment control needs. Find out how Honeywell's wireless accessories provide comfort solutions for the homeowner while increasing the profitability of each contractor visit.

Definition and Example: Depending on the comfort requirements of the homeowner, there is a wireless RedLINK accessory from Honeywell to solve their need. For example, a wireless outdoor sensor provides temperature and humidity conditions to the thermostat. This information is factored into the system requirements allowing for more efficient operation of the HVAC system.

Significance: Complete home comfort control including system diagnostics, remote accessibility and energy efficiency for the homeowner. The wireless accessories are quick and easy to install, offering efficiency and increased profitability.

Benefits: Added comfort control, energy efficiency and cost savings for the homeowner when used as directed. The contractor increases his value to the homeowner with the accessories while generating incremental revenue from the same call.

Procedure: Once the Prestige thermostat or the Equipment Interface Module is wired to the HVAC system, a contractor can add a variety of wireless accessories. Choose from an outdoor air sensor, indoor sensor, entry/exit remote, vent and filter boost remote, portable comfort control or Internet Gateway. Each accessory links wirelessly to the Prestige thermostat with a quick set-up guide right on the thermostat screen.

People Involved: HVAC Contractor

Timing: Less than 30 minutes to install and set up the Prestige thermostat and less than 15 minutes to install and set up one of the wireless RedLINK accessories.

Cost: Talk to your local distributor for pricing on the thermostat and accessories.

Contact: Visit www.forwardthinking.honeywell.com.

“We stand by our customers in regards to business practice, product quality and new products. Our customers understand Honeywell will support them and give them the attention they need to be successful in growing their business.”
-Ryan Strassburg