Futurists say there are some certainties we should plan for, and some uncertainties with a range of possible outcomes we can try to prepare for. In this article I will paint a potential picture of HVAC contracting in 2030, with an objective of encouraging contractors to prepare for the future. Advances in technology are creating a faster pace of change. If I were to write myself some advice in 2030 and send it back in time (which those guys at Google have almost figured out), it would go something like this:
1. Don’t Worry About the Labor Gap
Those sky-is-falling pessimists were right that retiring contractors would outnumber new HVAC contractors entering the field, but so were the economists about supply and demand. The number of field technicians kept dropping, but wages kept rising, recruiting new candidates, and manufacturers saw more value in simplifying service to save on labor costs, all combining for a new equilibrium. The result here in 2030 is a much more technical but less physically demanding job.
Prediction for 2030: There is no such thing as HVAC contractors now, only energy service contractors.
2030: With smart products becoming a custom, connectivity-enabled contractors now sell 5-10 installations and services daily. And it’s much more predictable, with no more odd-hour emergencies.
2. Embrace Productivity
It’s interesting to consider that in the past, technicians could only finish a few jobs per each day and arrived on job sites not knowing the full situation. With smart products becoming the norm, connectivity-enabled contractors now sell 5-10 installations and services daily. And it’s much more predictable with no more odd-hour emergencies. Tech schools only teach how to troubleshoot systems remotely, since the days of on-site investigations are a thing from the past.
Think buildings, not equipment. It’s even weirder to consider that contractors used to focus only on HVAC. There is no such thing as an HVAC contractor now, only energy service contractors. The ideas of servicing components and equipment without considering the inter-connected systems and the building envelope, and not having transparent diagnostics to display this, are totally foreign.
Prediction for 2030: The ideas of servicing components and equipment without considering the inter-connected systems and the building envelope, and not having transparent diagnostics to display this, are totally foreign.
3. IT Gets Standardized
Manufacturers had to simplify service, and industry organizations pushed standards for communication and fault codes. What happened in the auto industry happened in HVAC. This will work itself out, and it’s a good thing for contractors. The DIY market exists, but not with mainstream products, which come with service keys that building owners can’t unlock.
Prediction for 2030: Tech schools only teach how to troubleshoot systems remotely, since the days of on-site investigations are long gone.
Security is a bigger deal here in 2030. More connectivity created new opportunities and threats, and ransomware has gone to extremes. My neighbor told me about a recent caller who said, “Yes, I hacked into your so-called smart can opener. Now, if you want to get into your house, send 10,000 bitcoin to me.”
4. Utilities Will Change the Game
Smart grids work seamlessly with smart homes, with full transparency in variable pricing for energy. The “duck curve,” where the utility peak time has shifted later due to solar proliferation, has smoothed out as battery storage took off and a fully functioning supply/demand market decimated the issue of peak demand.
The future is bright, but mainly for those who strategically use technology to create and capture value. Choose wisely.
Written by Jonathan Holloway
Originally posted on contractingbusiness.com