By: Glenn Mellors
Since the federal government announced the greener homes initiative, it now makes more sense than ever for HVAC contractors to get into water heater installations. This is if you haven’t already.
Many HVAC contractors will say that there isn’t any money in selling water heaters and will send their customers off to companies that either sell or rent water heaters. We have become more aware that those who own the water tank often take ownership of the entire mechanical room.
In Ontario, there are just over four million single-family dwellings with more than half with rented water tanks. Each month, they receive a bill and receive marketing materials for products and services offered. When it’s time to buy, consumers will go to water tank supply companies. So, if you’re in a province that has yet to be dominated by water tank companies, you better be prepared before it’s too late. Take my word for it, it’s your time to get into the water heater business.
Water heater sales
There is no money in water heaters sales. Horse pucky—my expletive for something not being true! There are plenty of margins in water heater installs, if you learn the process and have the right tools. Tank installs are a great way to boost average ticket prices and gross margin dollars and an easy add-on to a one-day furnace and A/C install.
According to Shawn Dailey, owner of Comfort Plus ClimateCare, he states, “a conventional tank can be done in one hour with a two-man crew.”
He goes on to list a timetable for different types of installs. For power vented, two and a half hours can be expected, tankless should be around three to four hours, and a conversion tank to tankless could be four to six hours.
Look in the bucket
The success of any mechanical project starts with the proper tools in the bucket. When your technicians say that something is impossible to do in a timely fashion, look in their bucket. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard that a one-day install of is and re furnace and air conditioner is impossible! When you have a look, you may find drills without batteries, or screwdrivers that were used as pry bars. Imagine playing a round of golf with half a set of clubs, bent shafts, heads taped on and no putter. There’s a better way.
Along with the right tools comes the right process. Here is a step-by-step timeline for how a one-hour installation for conventional gas or electric hot water tank for a two-person crew should go.
Now, I understand your staff might not be able to complete a 60-minute install right off the bat maybe your team will deliver 120-minute installs. If they could do three installs a day, that is $2,000 in gross margin dollars per crew. Not too shabby, eh?
Now that we understand how efficiently water heaters can be installed, there is no reason not to take back ownership of the mechanical room and defend your customer base against marketers looking to penetrate the market.
The Canadian Greener Homes Grant Program was the catalyst of this article. The program allows for a homeowner to receive up to $5,000 in rebates.
So far, the program presents HVAC contractors with the ability to capitalize on grants for heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters. There are other improvements such as windows, doors, insulation, and air sealing as part of these grants.
Most HVAC contractors in Canada are well-educated in heat pump technology. But when it comes to heat pump water heaters, there’s still a lot to learn.
The protocol to receive more than $4,000 of the rebate on heat pumps is extremely limited in actual products produced to achieve 10HSPF, 12.5 EER and 15 SEER.
Heat pump products are available to meet tier two rebates of up to $4,000; combine that with the installation of a qualifying heat pump water heater, and the consumer gets another $1,000. This leaves us with a total of $5,000.
How they work
Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Therefore, they can be two to three times more energy-efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters. To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse.
While a refrigerator pulls heat from inside a box and dumps it into the surrounding room, a standalone air-source heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and dumps it—at a higher temperature—into a tank to heat water. You can purchase a standalone heat pump water heating system as an integrated unit with a built-in water storage tank and backup resistance heating elements.
One thing to note about selling these units is that they are larger than a conventional water heater.
The process of heating and recovery is much slower than a normal water heater and will require some electric resistance elements to assist in faster recovery. The slower recovery means that the heat pump water heater will require a larger storage capacity—hence the larger size. We are to understand that pricing is remarkably similar to a tankless water heater. The good news is that they are delivered to your door as a sealed system. This means it should not take much longer to install than a conventional electric tank (proving electrical service is available).
So, let’s all get into hot water and call your local supplier, find out the brands available in your area and attend training, we will all be better businesses for it.