How the Midterm Election Results Effect the HVAC Industry

The November midterm elections saw the Democrats take the House of Representatives and the Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate. How do the midterm election results effect the HVAC industry?

Several issues important to contractors and the HVAC industry will remain up for negotiation (or renegotiation) in the upcoming session of Congress. The 115th Congress brought some exciting gains that industry representatives are eager to lock-in through bipartisan legislation. New regulations are at an all-time low and for each new regulation created, 22 have been eliminated.

TAXES
Legislatively, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed last December made huge improvements to policies affecting HVACR distributors, without which the industry would not be thriving the way it is. This year, the amount families can protect from the estate and gift tax was doubled to nearly $12 million per family and $24 million per couple. Additionally, individual tax rates were cut, a new small business deduction of 20 percent was created, 529 savings plans were expanded, the child tax credit was increased, and the standard deduction was doubled. The expensing of HVAC equipment became a first-year write-down versus the 39-year schedule that previously existed. With a new majority in the House, Democrats may want to revisit the particulars, which could involve the threshold’s dollar amount or its duration at this level. Industry representatives will encourage lawmakers to maintain the current version and extend its timeframe.
It is not expected that the HEAT Act — which allows immediate tax deduction expensing for commercial HVAC equipment purchases — will be revisited in the upcoming session. However, it would become a top priority for ACCA should it come under pressure.

TRADE & TARIFFS
Trade continues to be an important priority for the HVACR industry. The signing of USMCA, which keeps most of NAFTA intact, was a huge step to start the 116th Congress. Based on input from industry members, HARDI wrote to the US government with concern over tariffs and highlighted the importance of their trading relationships to the industry. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross responded that he had received the concerns and was working hard to solve the trade divide between Canada, Mexico and the US. HARDI, ACCA and the rest of the industry will continue to push Congress and the administration to support free trade.

DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR OVERTIME RULE
The Department of Labor overtime rule could be coming back into play next year. During the Obama Administration the Department of Labor increased the minimum salary threshold for overtime pay by over 100 percent. The wage increase was unsustainable for employers from across the nation. Thankfully, the regulation was struck down by the courts. DOL plans to reissue the regulation next year with a more realistic wage threshold.

EFFICIENCIES AND STANDARDS
Although the continued debate over equipment performance continues, the common interest continues to be better performance. Democrats are expected to pursue higher minimum efficiencies for HVAC equipment, some of which were established during the Obama administration and since rolled back. Meanwhile, ACCA maintains that it is equally effective and less expensive to pursue greater realized efficiencies and to “not focus on the box”.

Various interests could overlap legislatively in the form of increased funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Energy Star program. In particular, ACCA would like to see a boost in support for Energy Star’s Verified HVAC Installation (ESVI) program. Contractors who participate in the ESVI program earn accreditation from a third-party organization and can then offer customers added assurance with an ESVI certificate that verifies their new equipment was installed correctly.

AHR is hopeful that in the next Congress they will tackle reforms to modernize the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). EPCA requires DOE to review and, when necessary, implement or revise minimum energy conservation standards. EPCA established a six-year review cycle. Many business leaders complain that the six-year cycle demands almost constant changes in plants and equipment because as managers prepare for the new standards, they quickly confront the next round of review, and, yet again, new investments that, over time, only yield smaller and smaller gains in efficiency.

EDUCATION
Both parties agree on improving education in the trades. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act for the 21st Century Act was signed by the president this summer. One of the most pressing issues for the industry as a whole is having enough qualified professionals to install and service machines. This bill provided nearly $2 billion to high school and technical school programs across the country.

LOOKING AHEAD
It will be interesting to see how much change can be affected with the change in House majority. The president will likely make deals with Democrats in the House where possible, which means that 2019 may yield some meaningful results for HVAC contractors and consumers alike. ACCA made this statement: “The HVAC industry is the backbone of our economy, responsible for keeping our food fresh, our IT and data centers operational, making modern medicine possible, providing essential comfort and healthy air to hundreds of millions of Americans, and employing millions of skilled workers. It is essential that policy makers understand the essential role that contractors play in our economy. ACCA looks forward to working with the new Congress, the Trump administration, and policy makers across the country on workforce development programs, reducing regulatory burdens, and expanding tax reform.”

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world. Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter for all the latest news.

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2018 Regulatory Priorities Released by HVACR Industry Alliance

The HVACR Industry Alliance announced its 2018 regulatory priorities at the Alliance’s quarterly meeting in Arlington, Virginia, on Dec. 14, 2017. The plan is to extend and build upon the Industry Consensus Agenda that was adopted and presented to the incoming Trump administration on Jan. 6, 2017.

 

The HVACR Alliance top 6 regulatory priorities for 2018 are:

•           Utilizing industry consensus standards
•           Tax reform and incentives
•           Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) reform
•           Refrigerants and ratifying the Kigali amendment
•           Energy-efficient and quality HVACR installations
•           Workforce development programs

Moving forward

Alliance members plan to meet on a regular basis with leaders of the Trump administration, members of Congress, and regulatory agencies throughout 2018. This will ensure their regulatory priorities wish list remains a top priority amongst policy makers.

“Alliance members had a tremendous impact on federal policies in 2017 because we were united and worked together where we have common policy goals,” said Paul T. Stalknecht, chairman, HVACR Industry Alliance. “The new tax reform law contains several priorities that many alliance members focused on, such as expensing of HVAC equipment for business owners, better tax rates for business owners, and reforms to the estate tax. Several alliance members also shared numerous workforce development initiatives with the Trump administration, such as the national focus on increasing the number of apprenticeship programs. We look forward to continued success as the alliance focuses on quality installation programs, refrigerant policies, and reforming the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in 2018.”

Who are the HVACR Industry Alliance?

Ten years ago, the HVACR Industry Alliance was formed to act as the “unified voice of the North American heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration industry.”

“Our mission is to have an open and frank discussion within the HVACR industry association community on matters of importance and seek consensus positions whenever possible,” said Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, ACCA, and HVACR Industry Alliance chairman. “At times, we are in 100 percent agreement; other times, we may have only a few members in agreement. When we are 100 percent united, we act accordingly and issue statements advocating the united position of the entire HVACR industry.”

The HVACR Industry Alliance is comprised of: the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association; Air Conditioning Contractors of America; Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute; Air Movement and Control Association InternationalASHRAE; Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International; Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute; National Air Filtration Association; North American Technician  Excellence; Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors-National Association; and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

FIELDBOSS stays current on industry trends to keep you informed on what’s happening in the HVACR world.  Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter  for all the latest news.

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2018 HVAC Regulations You Need to Know About

 

As 2017 comes to a close, it is important to look ahead at what new regulations await HVAC contractors in 2018. In just a few weeks, HVAC companies will face the second round of limitations for HVAC refrigerants, as well as the ‘rooftop units’ regulation. Here’s what you need to know about 2018 HVAC regulations:

Second stage of refrigerant use limitations

As of Jan. 1, 2018, technicians of refrigeration equipment will need to comply with the next set of limitations in their use of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). Any technician wanting to sell or work with refrigerants classified as ODS or their substitutes (such as HFC’s) will need to pass a certification exam allowing them to handle these substances. Once certified, they will need to keep a copy of their certification for up to three years after it expires. Technicians will also need to keep records of all disposals of equipment with five or more pounds of refrigerant with specifics on location, date, quantity, and other important details on transfers.

New efficiency standards for rooftop units

In less than a month, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) new compliance guidelines, described as the “largest energy-saving standard in history,” will officially affect the commercial heating and cooling industry. The rooftop air conditioner standards — which covers new units found on low-rise buildings, like hospitals, schools, and big-box stores — will take effect in two phases, increasing minimum efficiency by about 10 percent as of Jan. 1, 2018, and by 25-30 percent as of Jan. 1, 2023. Standards for new warm-air furnaces that are typically installed in conjunction with commercial air conditioners also become effective in 2023.

For HVAC technicians and contractors, this means learning to work with new and different types of equipment and refrigerants, as well as preparing to install new equipment or retrofit old equipment in order to bring it up to new standards.

 

With so many changes to equipment, refrigerants, and regulations, it is imperative to have a system to help keep track of everything. FIELDBOSS contractor management software can help you track leaks and report refrigerant use and disposals including date and time of service, location, quantity, work area assessment, job hazard assessment, personal protection, and safety environmental issues for each of your service activities and requests.

Contact FIELBDOSS today for a free demo and find out how FIELDBOSS can help your company stay compliant.

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