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Adapting to Decarbonization: What HVAC Contractors Need to Know


Adapting to Decarbonization: What HVAC Contractors Need to Know

Decarbonization is fast becoming a word you hear more in the HVAC industry, but not all HVAC contractors are entirely up to speed on how it’s set to reshape the industry. 

Far more than simply offering energy-efficient equipment, decarbonization is being driven by governmental efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It is buoyed by consumer demand for more environmentally friendly HVAC solutions. 

If you’re an HVAC contractor or business still having questions about decarbonization, read on for a high-level overview of what it is, what your business should be doing to adapt, and why it could boost your growth. 


Decarbonization in HVAC  

Before diving any further in, it’s helpful to define what’s meant by the term decarbonization. Other terms like energy efficiency and sustainability are catch-alls for any green initiative, but they don’t always mean the same thing in every context. 

Broadly speaking, decarbonization refers to the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In HVAC, the path to decarbonization is mainly focused on three strategies:

– Shifting to more energy-efficient equipment

– Switching to low-GWP refrigerants

– Increasing electrification 


Practical steps for HVAC contractors to adapt to decarbonization 

Adapting to decarbonization for HVAC contractors involves some strategic planning and technical upskilling. Here are a few areas to consider:

1. Embrace more energy-efficient equipment

Integrate more energy-efficient HVAC systems into your offerings. While potentially higher in upfront cost, these systems can provide long-term savings to your clients through reduced energy consumption.

2. Understand refrigerant management 

Governments are already regulating the transition to refrigerants with a lower global warming potential (GWP). Ensure you and your team fully understand these requirements and deadlines—especially when working on older systems that may no longer be up to code.

3. Promote electrification

Encourage clients to opt for electrified HVAC solutions, such as heat pumps. These solutions offer a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuel-based heating and cooling systems, which will appeal to clients who value greener solutions. 


Challenges in adapting to decarbonization efforts

Even with rising consumer demand, making the case for greener HVAC solutions isn’t without its challenges—most of which involve upfront costs. 

Energy-efficient models and equipment are typically more expensive than traditional systems, and these higher upfront costs can put a damper on things quickly for homeowners weighing their options. When meeting with clients, educating them on the longer-term savings these models offer through reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills is essential. 

It’s also equally crucial to help clients understand the range of government rebates and incentives available to them. These rebates can dramatically lower the overall costs of choosing greener equipment, so contractors must stay on top of what’s current, as they can change over time


Decarbonization as a growth and leadership opportunity

HVAC contractors already have an outsized level of influence on the equipment a homeowner chooses to have installed in their home. Clients look to HVAC pros for guidance and help navigate the options available. This naturally positions HVAC businesses to be leaders in the shift towards decarbonization by helping educate their clients on the benefits of selecting lower-emission solutions. 

Additionally, consumer demand for more sustainable or eco-friendly HVAC solutions is rising, with one recent study finding nearly two-thirds of Americans would pay more for sustainable HVAC products. 

With governments legislating change and consumers demanding more sustainable products, HVAC contractors are perfectly positioned to lead the way on decarbonization to benefit both environmental efforts and their own businesses. 


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