In Part 1 I described the sales and design process of my new HVAC System. In Part 2 I went over the installation. To recap, my furnace went out late last year. I purchased a new system from a contractor who was ready to sell me a system the moment he stepped in the door of my house. Sold me a system that was 80% more expensive than a previous quote AND had it installed in less than a week.

So what did I get for my money?

Well I guess the most important thing I got was comfort. At my advancing age (48), comfort is important to me. When I was younger I would not think twice about backpacking for 10 days straight, sleeping under the stars on a 1/2″ thick Ensolite pad. Comfort never really entered the picture. Now I roll out the RV if I want to rough it.

I will pay money for comfort and that is what my friend sold me, comfort in the form of a new HVAC system. He asked me what I did not like about my old one and then addressed those issues and sold me what I wanted.

So how did it work out?

My first complaint with my old system was the noise. It would wake me up every morning as soon as the fan clicked on. It is nice to wake up to a warm house but that means that the system has to come on at 6:00 AM and I don’t like to wake up until about 7:00.

The only sound coming from the new system is a slight rush of air through the vents. There is almost zero mechanical noise.

My second complaint wih my old system was that it would not heat/cool the house evenly. Some rooms never got warm or cool, and the temperature would vary by huge swings in different areas, especially in the summer. Not only was this uncomfortable, it was a waste of space. We have a music/game/theater room that we never used in the winter because we never could get it warm and if we did get it warm the rest of the house was too hot. We just did not use the room.

Now that we have three separate HVAC zones on each level of the house the temperature does not fluctuate between rooms more than a degree or two. We now use the all of the rooms in the house whenever the mood strikes us.

If you think about the cost of California real estate, rooms that you do not use can cost a small fortune. Divide your mortgage by the square footage of the house and then measure the rooms you do not use to see how much each room costs. In my case I had a room that I was paying about $500.00 a month to NOT use.

My third complaint was that the system seemed to blow as much dust around as air. You could actually see the dust in the sunlight when the system was on. In the winter there seemed to be a fine coat of dust on all surfaces the day after the house was cleaned. As soon as the heater started in the morning I would get stuffed up.

There was also a substantial health benefit. I never made this connection before but for the past several years I would develop a cough in the winter that would last until March or so. I just thought that’s the way it is. This winter started out the same way but after the system was installed with a “super filter” (seriously, it is about 4″ thick), no more cough.

In addition there were serious energy and money saving features as well. Before the crew took out the system they did a leak down test that measures how much air is escaping the system. I am not sure exactly what the numbers mean but before it was around “300”. After they were done it was around “100”. Basically I was heating and cooling the sub floor area.

Also when the house was built in the early 90’s the efficiency rating of the systems were around 80% when new. Given the age of the old system and all the leaks it was probably operating at 50% efficiency. This new system is 93% efficient.

So to sum it all up all of my goals were met, my home is MUCH more comfortable, I can use my entire house, I am noticeably healthier and I should see a significant monthly cost and energy savings. Not only that, I am another happy customer and willing reference of the companmy that did the job.

So what did we learn?

  1. Ask goal oriented questions at the initial client meeting.
  2. Sell the benefits, not the features.
  3. Be prepared to sell something by the first or second client meeting.
  4. Make sure your installation crew is efficient as possible and that they have all the knowledge, materials, and tools to do the job.
  5. Make sure the crew respects the home they are working in and that they show up ready to work.
  6. Keep your client informed of the schedule.
  7. Get in, do your job, and get out. Most clients do not want a long term relationship.

I think that any system integrator can use any or all of these practices to improve their own business practices.