How to Grow Your Business with Dehumidification
Originally published: 11.01.10 by Joe Hlavacek
Education and observation are key to making sales.
Adding new products and services is a common way to grow any business. Factors such as evolving homebuilding methods, changing consumer preferences, and increased awareness of health and safety issues often open new product or service opportunities for hvacr contractors.
Controlling high indoor humidity with a dedicated whole-house ventilating dehumidifier is such an opportunity, especially if you live in a climate that experiences high humidity for part or all of the year.
Selling The Benefits
Whole-house dehumidification addresses several homeowner concerns, including mold formation, property damage, unpleasant odors, and climate discomfort. By offering whole-house dehumidification, you can be an expert at solving these problems and providing whole-home comfort solutions, thus justifying a higher price point than competitors that don’t offer these.
Additionally, multiple trends are making the typical residential customer more receptive to education about the benefits of whole-house dehumidification:
- More energy-efficient homes: Such homes actually trap moisture, odors, and VOCs, potentially creating an unhealthy, uncomfortable environment.
- Heightened awareness of IAQ: People are more aware of the ongoing health problems caused by exposure to mold and other potential allergens.
- Rise in respiratory ailments: Incidences of asthma and allergies have increased dramatically in the last several years.
- People spending more time in their homes: Hence they breathe more, cook more, add more plants, pets, etc., all of which contribute to creating more moisture in a tighter home.
- High energy costs: Many homeowners’ tend to “overcool” in order to try and remove excess humidity resulting in high energy bills.
- The “green” movement: According to LEED for Homes, controlling indoor moisture levels provides comfort, reduces the risk of mold and allergens, and increases the durability of the structure of the home.
In hot and humid climates, dehumidification can reduce the energy demands associated with air-conditioning.
Challenges Are Opportunities
One of the challenges of selling whole-house dehumidification is that many homeowners have been led to believe that air-conditioning alone can solve their humidity issues. Most modern thermostats include a dehumidification function that sacrifices temperature comfort with some added dehumidification effect from the air-conditioning unit’s evaporator.
But do your customers really desire the inefficiency of overcooling their homes simply to remove a little extra moisture without fully addressing the real problem? Or, desire their humidity to be controlled only during peak demand periods? This is an opportunity for education.
According to a study by Florida Solar Energy, the operation of a correctly sized air conditioner with a supplemental dehumidification system to precondition the outside ventilation air and provide additional dehumidification of the space appears to provide the best interior humidity control with only a slight increase in energy usage.
Another challenge is that unlike the standard components that make up a typical new-system proposal or add-on solution, whole-house dehumidification is not exactly a household term. This is another opportunity. Let your competition fight over the “apples-to apples” system replacements and addons, while you educate your customers on the more complete solution.
The result will be significantly higher margins on a whole-house dehumidifier versus a typical air conditioner, air handler or furnace, air cleaner, or UV light everyone else is proposing.
Listen, Observe and Provide Solution
Helping homeowners understand the importance of proper humidity control needs to be approached from an educational standpoint versus just quoting or selling equipment — simply put, listen to the homeowner’s complaints, observe the problems, and present the solution.
Contractors who are the most successful at selling whole-house dehumidifiers carefully observe their customer’s homes and take the time to ask the right questions. Whether you were called for an IAQ issue, a comfort complaint, or a system tune-up, making accurate observations and asking the right questions will help you and the homeowner decide if a whole house dehumidifier is the best solution for their home.
- Discoloration around registers.
- Mold growth and musty odors.
- Condensation on windows or supply registers.
- Low setting on thermostat.
Questions to ask the homeowner:
- Does anyone in the home suffer from respiratory issues or allergies?
- Do you lower the thermostat in order to try to remove humidity?
- Do you find yourself lowering the thermostat because it is “sticky”?
- How comfortable do you sleep at night?
- Have you observed any mold or musty smells?
How to present a whole house dehumidifier:
- Excess moisture in the home can lead to unhealthy and uncomfortable living conditions.
- Moisture in the home comes from many sources: people, pets, plants, cooking, washing, ground water, and infiltration of outside air.
- Air conditioners are designed to cool a home based on a temperature set point and only remove moisture as a by-product to cooling. A whole house dehumidifier focuses solely on removing excess moisture and maintaining a healthy and comfortable relative humidity set point.
- Air conditioners can help remove moisture when running consistently throughout the day, but will not address high humidity situations and moderate temperatures such as the evenings, spring and fall.
The key to selling whole house dehumidifiers is to remember that the homeowner is looking to you as the expert to provide the best possible solution to make their home a comfortable, healthy and safe place to live. Once you have helped them achieve whole home comfort, you can be guaranteed that they will tell everyone they know. While the basic installation and operation of whole-home dehumidifiers are quite simple, by aligning your business with expert dehumidification manufacturers, you will benefit from their years of experience, resulting in a long-term, profitable partnership for you, your company, and your customers.
Articles by Joe Hlavacek
How to Grow Your Business with Dehumidification
Factors such as evolving homebuilding methods, changing consumer preferences, and increased awareness of health and safety issues often open new product or service opportunities for hvacr contractors.