The HVAC Industry Continues to Experience the Effects of COVID-19

HVAC and covid 19 Featured image

HVAC Supply Pricing Continuing To Rise

Folks who purchased their new AC system at the beginning of the year should be singing their praises.  The industry continues to see rising costs of materials combined with a shortage of workers.  

A colleague of mine said, “When something like COVID interrupts any part of the supply chain system, including how those parts get shipped from there to here. We’re experiencing a weird dynamic right now with worldwide stress, but also with a high demand for our products and services. Also, considering the low numbers of employees working in these factories, the only thing to expect is chaos. The scenario is creating an almost panic for our industry to perform.”

Halfway through the summer of 2021, things haven’t gotten any better.  We continue to be frustrated.  Selling equipment is tough enough, but to get the okay from a customer and potentially not have their equipment is challenging.  It’s the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with since becoming a contractor in 2015.

What happens is, when we order our equipment online in the past, we could see the inventory levels of our distributor.  We would look up a particular furnace that matches up with a condenser and evaporator coil and see that they had 20 of those furnaces.  Now when we win a job, we have to submit the order and wait for the distributor to get back to us and let us know if they have the equipment to fill that order.  If they don’t, we have to call the customer back and let them know.

On a few occasions this year, we have had to offer the customer an entirely different brand than Trane, which has always been our equipment of choice.  This has worked out for those customers, and we appreciate them being flexible enough to understand.  

Every HVAC contractor in the United States is dealing with this equipment situation.  Manufacturers say they can’t get equipment out fast enough for the rising demand for new equipment.  This has created the highest rate of price increase we’ve seen in a very long time.  Each year, we typically see a 4% to 6% increase in the cost of equipment.  

attic furnace unit

This year we’ve already seen a 21% increase in that same equipment. This has resulted in your basic $10,000 HVAC system increasing by $2,000 in just one year.  Higher-end equipment has grown exponentially.

With a few to several more months of rapid inflation in the world’s economy, we continue to brace for whatever price increases we may see. These price increases ultimately get passed along to our customers. 

So, like we said this time last year, as we’re getting close to the end of the hottest time of the year, local suppliers should have an easier time restocking their shelves as demand goes down.  Winter months are relatively mild around the Sacramento Valley, so that we won’t get that high intensity of equipment change-outs experienced in other areas of the world with longer, colder winters.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed America get’s back to normal soon.  People need heating and air conditioning. It’s not a luxury for some people.  With continued demand and lower inventory of equipment and the parts that make that equipment up, inflation continues, stressing this contractor out.  

Stay safe and follow CDC guidelines so we can get through this sooner than later. Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you next time.

There are Still Air Conditioner Rebates for 2020? It’s True!

HVAC Rebates

SMUD HVAC Rebates for Sacramento

Did you know that our local utility company still offers some HVAC rebates for air conditioners installed in 2020? It’s true!  If you live in Sacramento County in California, you are connected to SMUD’s electrical grid.  SMUD is offering some valuable rebates, and you can get yours when you upgrade your old HVAC system to a new one in 2020.

Because of COVID-19, SMUD’s well known dual fuel HVAC upgrade and their air conditioner with gas furnace upgrade have both been discontinued for 2020.  But you can still get a $2,500 rebate when you upgrade your current gas/electric.  And an electric to electric upgrade will get you a rebate of $750.

Update!!  Update!!

Starting August 11, 2020, the $2,500 rebate will rise slightly to $3,000. I’m truly shocked to hear this.  If anything, I would have thought the rebate would go lower as the year went along.  The heat pump to heat pump upgrade remains at $750.

Proof Variable Speed Electric is Better

Mitsubishi Air HandlerThe Mitsubishi variable speed systems save real money!  We recently replaced a Folsom customer’s gas furnace and evaporator coil with an SVZ-KP36 electric air handler.

He received a $4000 HVAC rebate from SMUD for the upgrade. That rebate is now “only” $2,500 since COVID has drained money from the pool of funds SMUD had for these rebates.  But still, $2500 is amazing!

We installed the system in February 2020.  I called him at the end of July to give a reference for us to a customer who was wanting to talk to someone who has made the switch from gas/electric to an all-electric variable speed system.  It didn’t surprise me when he said he had already saved about $150 in electric bills this summer.  And as I write this, we’re not even to August or September yet.  Truly amazing!

Because these systems run at such low speed and amperage, this translates to better comfort levels at lower prices! What’s even better is these Mitsubishi systems are about the same prices as a mid-tier “typical” HVAC system, so you’re not paying an arm and a leg for this uber-premium system. 

Can I Just Change the AC Condenser?

The HVAC rebates are available on 15 through 20 SEER AC systems and above in 2020.  A question I get a lot is, “can I just change the AC condenser outside?” The answer to that question is, unfortunately, not.  We have to install the complete matching system, which includes a furnace, evaporator coil, and condenser.

The furnace will come with a blower motor with enough technology to reach 16 SEER efficiency.  A constant torque motor is needed to achieve this rating for you successfully.  Fortunately, almost every new system manufactured in 2020 will come with this motor already in it.

Shoot for High-Efficiency

Earlier systems could be manufactured with the classic PSC motor with a capacitor, and those are in a lot of homes around the greater Sacramento area.  But they don’t achieve the ratings AHRI expects for high-efficiency, so they’re being phased out as more efficient systems are developed.

The evaporator coil near the furnace also needs to be replaced, as the new systems have more coils and more surface area to remove heat and humidity from your home.  An older evaporator coil is typically too small to achieve those higher efficiency ratings.

Fox Family Will Process Your Instant SMUD Rebate

This year when you’re buying your new HVAC system, I want you to think about using this rebate offered by the local utility company.  Take advantage of the instant rebate you’ll receive from SMUD.  Fox Family takes care of getting that for you when we change out your system.  We simply get your account number from you and submit your application.  A few weeks later, you’ll get your check in the mail for immediate use.

16 SEER systems will cost more than 14 SEER systems, but you’ll get better cooling for less money spent to get that nice cool air on those 100-degree days.  Taking cash off the price of your new HVAC system puts money back into your pocket!

Call Fox Family with Your Questions

If you have any questions about the HVAC rebates this year offered by SMUD, our local utility provider for electricity, let me know in the comments down below, or you can call or text us anytime at Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning.  We service the entire Greater Sacramento area.  Book online and we’ll come out and give you an honest opinion of how your system is running, and let’s see if you could really save some money by purchasing your new high-SEER air conditioner.

These HVAC rebates are real, and they belong in your pocket in 2020.  I hope this answers your questions about the rebates offered by SMUD when you buy a new air conditioning system in Sacramento County.  Please let me know your thoughts on this down below in the comments.  Thank you so much, and we’ll see you back here on the blog next week!

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Should I Get a Home Warranty Plan?  Pros and Cons

home warranty pros and cons

Home Warranty vs. Home Insurance: The Difference

When you buy a home, it does not come with an owner’s manual.  What if your AC or furnace breaks down and needs repairs?  How do you know the difference between what a home warranty policy covers and what homeowners insurance covers?

What’s a Home Warranty Policy?

When you buy a home, your realtor will typically include a 1-year home warranty policy with the sale of the house.  They pay for it (well, you pay for it), and it covers any appliances that might break down in the home that first year.  Appliances often come with the home that can break down.  They include air conditioners and furnaces that the previous homeowner can’t take with them to their new location.

Homeowners insurance and home warranties are two different things, though. You can look at it this way.  The difference is “natural causes” vs. “mechanical problems,” and they’re two separate entities.

What Does Home Insurance Cover?

The role of home insurance is to protect you financially for damage to your home during a natural occurrence such as a tornado or fire.  Items in your home can be covered by your policy if they’re lost or stolen during a robbery or home invasion.

Take your air conditioning system as an example.  I once went out to a home where the AC unit in the back yard was ripped away from the spot where it sat for years.  A chain was looped around it and hooked onto the thief’s vehicle.  Then they drove off with the AC.  The AC’s copper lines were ripped halfway up the stucco wall on its way up to the attic.  Homeowners insurance would cover this!

Let’s say a fire breaks out in the attic of a home, and all the ductwork and the furnace are rendered charred and useless.  Home insurance would take care of recouping your HVAC system.  It’s these types of incidents that homeowner’s insurance will cover.  Now let’s look at what a home warranty policy will cover.

The Breakdown

So, it’s the hottest day of the year, of course, when your AC system breaks down.  It has a mechanical failure.  The condenser fan motor has stopped working.  Because the fan stopped working, the compressor that pumps the refrigerant overheated and has become inoperable, too.  These are the types of mechanical issues that regularly occur as an HVAC system ages.  The AC can be repaired if the parts are available.

Home Warranty: the Service

An HVAC company that contracts for the home warranty company will come out for a service call fee of anywhere around $50 to $150. They’ll figure out what part you need, get it if it’s not already on their service truck, come back and replace those parts.  Whether the part is five years old or 35 years old, if the system is fixable, that’s what your home warranty company will arrange.

You may want a new system, though.  This one is 35 years old!  Won’t the home warranty company pay for a new one for me?  The truth is, it’s not in the best interest of the warranty company to be buying new systems for everyone, so if a repair can be made, it will be.

Make sure to read the fine print of both your home warranty policy and homeowners insurance policy, though. You’ll want to know what they cover and what they don’t.  The home warranty company might pay for the repair part itself, but they might not pay for the incidentals that come with it.

Making Money on Incidentals

For example, if your evaporator coil has a detrimental leak and it’s determined it can’t be fixed, the warranty company will pay for a new one.  They may not, however, pay for the new equipment risers, the sheet metal transition back to the existing ductwork, the refrigerant that was lost, or the valve caps that are missing from the outdoor AC.  The HVAC company must make its money somehow, and these “incidentals” are where some of them will take the opportunity to rack up the price on unsuspecting homeowners.

For instance, a contractor representing the warranty company was going to charge a customer over $3,200.00 for a new evaporator coil with these risers, transitions, fasteners, couplings, and every other thing they could think of.  Mind you, the coil was paid for by the warranty company!  The customer called us with a request for a second opinion.  We let them know we didn’t represent any home warranty companies, so they would have to pay us full price for the parts and labor on the job and work it out with the warranty company.  They agreed.  Our price, including the coil, came out to about $2,200.00 — $1000 less!  This experience is one example of how a contractor may try to exploit a warranty.

Read the Fine Print

Do your due diligence before committing to anything.  If something doesn’t sound right, check it out.   The fine print on homeowners insurance and home warranty policies can be vague.  There are pros and cons to each.

If you have any questions about this topic, we’d love to chat with you.  Leave a comment below to continue the discussion!

Our Top 5 Favorite Booths at the 2020 Northern California Home and Landscape Expo

Fox Family at Home and Garden Show

Our Top 5 Favorite Booths at the 2020 Show

This past weekend we got the chance to be one of 16 heating and air conditioning companies at the Northern California Home and Landscape Expo at Cal Expo.  We saw at least 20,000 to 30,000 people walking through the maze of exhibitors out there.  The weather was nice for all three days.  Each day there were threats of rain but would subside just in time.

In this week’s blog, I wanted to point out our top 5 favorite booths from this year’s show.  I really don’t think you can see all the exhibitors in one day.  There were multiple buildings hosting companies from all over the Sacramento area showing off their businesses.  Here’s a list of all the trades you could have seen at this year’s show:

  • Air conditioning, heating, plumbing and insulation
  • Appliances and home products
  • Cabinets and closets
  • Contractors and remodelers
  • Concrete, decks, and fencing
  • Financial, real estate, and insurance
  • Floors and carpets
  • Gardening and outdoor products
  • Home furnishings and decorative art
  • Kitchens and baths
  • Landscaping
  • Pet products
  • Pools and spas
  • Roofing, siding, and painting
  • Screens, sunrooms, and patio covers
  • Security, satellites, and water
  • Skylights and solar
  • Specialty products
  • Tile, marble, and stone
  • Windows and doors

1. Our first favorite booth this year was Armstrong Plumbing (www.armstrongplumbing.net) and their famous toilet filled to the brim with candy. 

They also were giving out foam stress balls that looked like, well, poop!  Armstrong Plumbing is well known in the Sacramento area for their expert service and installation teams.  From the smallest repairs to repiping an entire home, Armstrong and their company mascot, Rosie the Riveter, is a company I would trust in my home.

2. Number two on the list: I’m always amazed by the detailed and elaborate booth Yancey Home Improvements (www.yanceycompany.com) puts up every year. 

Their booth looks like a cutout of a home that has a rooftop with shingles and even solar panels on top of that.  They built out the patio covers and other sunrooms they specialize in as well.  It was a very large display that took up several 10×10 ft. booths! 

3. The third that was neat to see was the Vitamix blender booth. (www.vitamix.com

Vitamix demonstrated how easy it was to prepare whole meals with the use of their line of variable speed blenders.  From soups to baby food, smoothies to frozen desserts, the Vitamix blender is definitely something Melissa and I want to pick up soon.  

4. Number four on the list that was there is Harlan Quality Roofing (www.harlanroofing.com). 

Fox Family has referred some of our customers to Harlan Roofing.  Some of those homeowners chose to have their roofs done by James and his great team.  It’s nice to know we have helped other companies in our area by throwing some business their way.  Their values line up with Fox Family’s in many ways.  The care they put into their roofing installations is one reason Harlan Quality Roofing will be around for many years.

5. And finally, System Pavers (www.systempavers.com) was there. 

The day before the show opened, the System Paver teams were hard at work setting up a sample area of their carefully placed paving stones that interlock, keeping them looking nice, durable and maintenance-free.  There were plenty of colors and styles available.  I’m sure anyone could find the perfect driveway, walkway, patio, or deck for their home.

Barely Scratching the Surface

I could go on and on about all the great booths at the 2020 show.  But like I said before, I really don’t know how someone could get to all of them in one day.  With a multitude of buildings housing all these companies, I know the visitors out there got what they came for, which was lots of ideas for their home projects coming up in the year ahead.

It was nice being out there this year.  As a company of our size, rubbing elbows with so many of the well-known businesses and business owners here in the Sacramento area is a real treat for us each year.  Hopefully, we’ll get to see you at the show next year.  If you see us, make sure to stop by and say hello.

You can see us throughout the year at this show as well as the Sacramento Home & Garden Show www.sachomeandgardenshow.com at Cal Expo, March 6th to the 8th.  We also set up a booth at the Rancho Cordova Business Expo  www.ranchocordova.org/2019-business-expo.html each year.  This year’s show is on August 20th.

Thanks so much for checking us out for this week’s blog.  We’ll see you next week! 

Fox Family is at Sacramento Home and Garden Show

An Obvious Choice for Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning

Hey everyone!  I wanted to reach out to you from the Sacramento Home and Garden Show this weekend, March 1-3, 2019.  We’ve talked about getting a booth in the past and finally decided to go ahead and participate this year.  As we look for more people to provide with our heating and air conditioning services, this show seems like a great opportunity and an obvious choice.  And just like every year, a lot of people are expected here all weekend.

Where We Belong

Fox Family continues to grow.  Our philosophy — treating people the way they want to be treated, rather than like just a number like some big HVAC companies do — is really paying off.  This year at the Home and Garden Show at Cal Expo we see ourselves settling in amongst the major home services companies that have been around for decades.

This is exactly where we belong!  Among some of the most well-known companies in the area are Armstrong Plumbing, Byers Leaf Guard, Yancey, Cal Spas, Cal-Vintage Roofing, Renewal by Anderson (Windows), and a half dozen HVAC companies, including ourselves.  There are some other superb companies represented as well. I think I like being among the elite.

The Ebb and Flow

It’s fun and easy to walk around the Cal Expo pavilion building.  There’s plenty of room in the aisles to peruse each and every vendor.  It’s a relaxed and bustling marketplace, with hundreds of products to shop and giveaways for your canvas bag.

Friday was Senior Day, with half-off tickets for those who could come on a day when most people are at work.  Saturday and Sunday were the big days.  Folks filed in when the doors opened and headed straight to the booths.  And it really didn’t slow down all day, straight through until the doors closed at the end of the day.

Building Our Brand

The goal for exhibiting at a home show is to gain a following and name recognition in the community, a solid marketing plan for us.  Fox Family will continue to return to this show and present ourselves as the company we are.   When people think of heating or air conditioning, we know they will remember Fox Family. Gaining exposure to people who are looking for the best of the best in home improvement is always a positive!

Wrapping Up

Next week, we’ll return to providing more great HVAC blog posts, but I wanted to tell you all how this new endeavor went!  Perhaps we’ll see you here next year.

You can check out the Sacramento Home and Garden Show at CalExpo at http://www.sachomeandgardenshow.com/.