ST. LOUIS - About 33 percent of HVAC contractors view the 13-SEER transition as a moneymaking opportunity, according to the latest 13-SEER survey from Emerson Climate Technologies.

The survey, the third in a series from Emerson, asked 748 HVAC contractors and distributors about the new 13 seasonal energy-efficiency ratio regulation, which goes into effect Jan. 23. The purpose of the survey is to help provide an accurate picture of the market's transition.

"Even if you're already selling 13 SEER today, you might find that it's not the same in 2006. In the new 13-plus SEER world, selling only on higher efficiency is not going to be enough to succeed," said Karl Zellmer, vice president of air conditioning sales for Emerson's Copeland Corp. "Many contractors are now beginning to understand that they will need to up-sell benefits like comfort, indoor air quality, reliability and quality of services to continue to be successful. The forward-thinking contractors who follow up their new business and marketing strategy with improvements in selling skills focused on differentiation, up-selling benefits and new-equipment training will be the most successful during and after the transition."

The survey also showed that many contractors still have serious concerns as the industry moves closer to the 13-SEER standard. These range from increased prices and homeowner education, to mismatched systems and technician training.

"I think as contractors, and the industry, continue to prepare for the transition, we will see many of these concerns diminish," said Zellmer. "For example, on the issue of mismatched systems, contractors should review their matched- unit strategy and look for revised guidelines from OEMs. On the issue of increased pricing, much of the concern is based on the speculation of what the pricing may be. As more OEMs announce pricing, that speculation will disappear."

Among the other findings on the survey, 44 percent plan to sell their existing stock of 10-SEER units after Jan. 23. Most indicate this will be primarily for special jobs. Also, 33 percent believe the move to 13 SEER will result in less replacement work and an increase in unit repairs.

The survey also found that 45 percent of contractors are currently promoting and selling 13-SEER products, while 49 percent said their distributors have advised them to start preparing now on how to sell and service the new 13-SEER products.