HVAC regulations may receive a complete facelift under President Trump

During his campaign, the 45th President of the U.S., Donald Trump, vowed to get rid of the many regulations he feels negatively affect peoples’ jobs and livelihoods.

“I will formulate a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated,” Trump said.

For some in the HVAC industry, government regulation has been a real burden. With a rollback in regulations and the appointment of new cabinet members, change appears to be on its way.

Trump has appointed some very important people that will surely make changes in regulations that pertain to our industry. Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of the oil and gas-intensive state of Oklahoma, was nominated by Trump to head the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), an agency he has spent a lot of his career fighting against.

In The Washington Post, Pruitt was quoted as stating, “The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”

In addition, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been elected head of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Perry has frequently stood against actions to reduce carbon emissions and has protested against signs of global warming in the past.

Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), said the organization is hopeful Perry’s nomination signals a more balanced approach to the process under which HVACR and water heating equipment is regulated.

“The current regulatory process is 40 years old and in need of significant reform,” he said. “We welcome Gov. Perry’s nomination, and we’re looking forward to working with him and his team on regulatory reform and other issues of vital importance to our industry.”

CONTRACTORS READY FOR CHANGE

While it appears regulations will be vetted more carefully under Trump’s administrations, as a contractor, which regulations would you like to see eliminated first?

The NEWS conducted an online poll in December that asked readers this exact question, offering multiple choice answers, including eliminating the federal estate tax, reining in the DOE’s ongoing efficiency regulations, slowing/stopping the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) alternative refrigerant push, or rejecting the Montreal Protocol agreement on phasing out HFCs. Eliminating the federal estate tax and slowing/stopping EPA’s alternative refrigerant push were the highest in votes (See the full survey results below).

“Energy-efficiency regulations should be, at the least, lessened,” said Robin Boyd, service advisor, U.S. Supply Co., Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “In order to achieve energy-efficiency ratings, many systems have improperly sized components included in them. This causes costly, premature equipment failure; system noise and humidity issues, and it depletes the energy savings of the required ratings. In [regional standards]border states, where the minimum-efficiency requirement for one state is different than a bordering state, there is much confusion between consumers, contractors, and wholesale distributors,”

Steve Ohl, owner of R.F. Ohl., Lehighton, Pennsylvania, was mainly concerned with the DOE’s ongoing efficiency regulations, which he feels limit low-income customers’ choices and forces them, more often than not, to purchase more expensive, high-efficiency units. Ohl believes customers should be able to choose the level of efficiency they want.

“Some customers just want what they want, and we should be able to sell it to them,” he said. “We always try to educate customers about best possible options, but in the end, it really is the customers’ decision.”

In an industry that is customer-focused and driven, it’s important contractors maintain and sustain customer satisfaction, which may be hindered by government regulations.

“The [energy-efficiency regulations] create legal issues for contractors who are trying to keep costs down for consumers needing the least costly systems available. For example, two identical rental homes blocks away from one another, but in different states, may require two completely different systems due to regulations,” Boyd said. “Consumers lose trust in contractors who are not convincing enough that it is government regulations requiring the more costly systems.”

While many hold negative views when it comes to government issued regulations, not all contractors believe these mandates are bad.

“These regulations have been a boon to our business and have increased our profitability substantially,” said Ken Robinson, co-owner, Climate Pro Mechanical, Los Alamitos, California. “While some regulations are a bit burdensome, the endgame is for a good reason, and I like to make money.”

Joe Kokinda, president and CEO at Professional HVAC/R Services Inc. in Avon, Ohio, said regulations exist for a reason and should be bipartisan.

“The business case for technology relative to our economy has moved inexorably toward one of embracing low carbon emissions, and most believe this movement is irreversible,” he said. “The populating of cabinet choices with those that are not a diverse selection of our demography smacks of what was espoused during the campaign — say what you want with no repercussions when it is opportune to do so.”

Regardless how you feel about regulations, based on Trump’s previous comments, and the histories of his appointees, it appears that change is certainly on the horizon.

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