Hot Technology That’s PrettyCool
With plummeting margins on flat-panel TVs and stepped-up competition on the installation side from high-volume retailers, CEDIA dealers are looking to protect their profits with products and services that big-box retailers can’t provide.
HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) control is one of those product/service categories that
could take on a larger role in the custom electronics picture going forward.
It may not have the glamour or glitz of a
flat-panel TV, but installers can use HVAC as an attractive option in an overall home control package. The good news is that the benefits of HVAC
are relatively simple to explain. When pitched, homeowners can easily pick up on the benefits of energy savings and combining climate control into integrated scenes with lighting and security.
“The days of high-margin home theater are
coming to an end,” says Jon Fischer, HVAC automation sales manager for vendor Aprilaire. “Installers aren’t going to make 40 to 50 percent margins on video and audio thanks to the Best Buys and the Tweeters of the world. We have to look at where the little guys can make their money. If it’s not going to be the 50-inch plasma TV, it’s got to
be something else.”
Like HVAC, of course.
Aprilaire and the rest of the HVAC industry have trends on their side. Energy costs are soaring. The need for moneyed consumers to monitor temperature levels in second homes is rising. These benefits are easy for homeowners to grasp, says Fischer, and make a good entry point for an HVAC control discussion.
Further, home automation offers synergies with lighting/shade control and security; integrating those functions into lifestyle scenes is appealing. “When HVAC is automated, you don’t have to think about it anymore,” Fischer says. “When you close the garage door, you can have your security system arm, the lights go off and the HVAC set back to an efficient level. Bottom line: homeowners are saving energy when they aren’t there.”