2022 will begin to set the stage for a lot of upcoming changes in the HVAC industry. In 2023, you can expect to see the industry heat up with product innovation and regulations in place. With world health considerations still a big concern, it continues to influence all businesses. Environmental impact is also a significant factor in what to expect this year and next.
The following are trends we expect to see in 2022:
Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Systems
Government regulations have set new energy efficiency standards effective in 2023 that require a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) – a measure of a system’s cooling performance – of no less than 14 SEER for residential systems in the northern part of the United States and 15 SEER in the southern part of the United States. Regional territories will remain the same with federal minimums increasing by one SEER in all regions on January 1, 2023. These new laws are meant for residential central air conditioning and heat pump equipment, designed to reduce the overall energy usage of space heating and cooling equipment in homes and small businesses.
U.S. manufacturers are working on redesigns of equipment to meet these new efficiency requirements and are likely to launch the new products in 2022 ahead of the 2023 transition date.
With continued concerns regarding environmental-friendliness, one industry goal is to produce greener systems. Sustainability efforts should help reduce our carbon footprint in the future. Achieving this sustainability with HVAC systems will take precedence in 2022. Advanced equipment may be more costly than the previous versions of these models. This is due to the high technology and operation cost behind the manufacturing process. However, as with other products, pricing will likely lower as the level of competition between competitive brands increase.
Multiple Refrigerants to Replace R-410A
According to the EPA, “on December 27, 2020, the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act was enacted by Congress to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by phasing down production and consumption, maximizing reclamation and minimizing releases from equipment, and facilitating the transition to next-generation technologies through sector-based restrictions.” So, what does this mean to the HVAC industry in particular?
This directive authorizes the EPA to phase down the consumption and production of high-GWP HFC refrigerants and establish sector-based limits. Simply put, it calls for an 85% phasedown of HFC production and consumption over a 16-year timeframe. This phasedown has been expected which is why Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have been working diligently to identify alternative refrigerants that are safe and efficient. They are also working to comply with the new regulations by developing new products to meet the new criteria.
Over the last year or so, manufacturers have begun introducing progressions designed to remove ozone-depleting refrigerants from HVAC systems with GWP-style refrigerants. To meet these requirements, manufacturers will be expected to utilize refrigerants with low global warming potentials (GWPs).
The R-410A refrigerant that was introduced over 10 years ago will be replaced with nonproprietary and brand-exclusive options. R-32 and R-454B are two potential low-GWP R-410A replacements and are already on the market.
Other component options will also be available by 2023. For specific details on the regulations and how they will be administered, please refer to the EPA website.
Product availability improvements
The international shortage of HVAC equipment due to major supply chain disruptions will likely continue in 2022. As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not surprising that pricing will rise, and accessing components, parts and materials, whether imported or transported intrastate, will continue to be a challenge. The good news is that many manufacturers have started to catch up on inventory shortages. With the mass rollout of vaccinations and a global slowdown of infection rates, restrictions are loosening up and workplaces are evolving. People are going back to work, transportation is returning closer to normal, and it is only a matter of time before we’re back to pre-pandemic productivity levels on factory floors and on transportation of these goods.
Create a sense of control in your own HVAC business.
The only way we can control our business is by choosing how we run it, and that may mean changing how you’ve done things in the past. Mitigating potential issues during these unprecedented times could result in fewer headaches down the road.
The way to order HVAC products is evolving. Many distributors are offering websites for online purchases and shipping. Pay attention to promotions and sales during the slower seasons.
Get ahead of challenges and issues with HVAC management. Try to get a bird’s-eye view of the type of units you typically service and install. This may help you plan ahead by ordering items upfront and keep your own stock on hand.
Proactive may be the new reactive, and with some planning, HVAC repairs and replacement can be painless and may even move the needle ahead by saving you some bucks on volume purchases.
What we’ve learned over the last few years is we don’t know what is around the corner that can impact the industry (or the world). The way we can be prepared is to stay engaged in trends and be flexible in the way we run our business.