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Owens Corning Air Distribution Group Completes HVAC Duct Retrofit Pilot and Expands Contractor Cohort

Owens Corning Air Distribution Group is expanding its duct inspection and retrofit program following a pilot initiative in the South and Southwest. The “duct retrofit opportunity” pilot with HVAC contractors launched in Q1 2020 and engaged a cohort of contractors to evaluate a whole-home approach to HVAC sales. Based on response in test markets, Owens Corning is expanding its residential HVAC contractor cohort.

Owens Corning duct insulation in attic.
Owens Corning duct insulation in attic.

Inspired by data on energy efficiency and rising codes, the duct retrofit program was developed to help contractors capture untapped opportunities within their existing book of business. Cohort member Charlene Ierna, owner/president of IERNA’s Heating & Cooling in the Tampa Bay area credits the program with adding over $100,000 in revenue based solely on the Owens Corning insulation upgrade service. “We’re already in the customer’s home; they’ve have called us because ultimately, they are not comfortable. Many times we are discovering that perhaps the insulation is not adequate, or they have a hole in their duct board, or both. As a result, it made a lot of sense to partner with Owens Corning since this is what they do,” says Ierna.

The pilot introduced a 12-point attic inspection to evaluate ductwork, attic insulation levels and inform improvements that would support air quality, help improve energy efficiency, and enhance occupant comfort. Energy Star data reports an average home loses up to 30% of air that moves through the duct system due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts. And in addition to wasted energy dollars, poorly sized or leaky ductwork also places additional stress on the HVAC equipment.

The program is attracting homeowner interest at a time when homeowners are increasingly interested in the quality of their indoor environment. Program manager Lauren Scott stated, “The response from HVAC contractors who piloted the program in test markets supports our hypothesis that homeowners are concerned about the threat that dust and debris from unconditioned spaces – such as the attic – pose when contaminants infiltrate the conditioned space within a home.”

From a contractor’s perspective, the duct retrofit program provides HVAC contractors with an opportunity to increase off-season sales, add to the value of each job and differentiate their businesses offerings in the marketplace. It also helps to flatten the labor curve throughout the year. By discussing the advantages of the retrofit service to homeowners during peak season, contractors can proactively schedule follow-up appointments when the busiest season subsides, keeping their techs busy during shoulder season.”

The program is particularly well-suited to homes with ductwork in the attic space. This area is typically easy to access and does not require the homeowner to take additional efforts.

“Because ductwork is out of sight, it’s easy to overlook the influence it has on comfort and efficiency. But when consumers realize the duct network in their home is responsible for driving air to each room, they realize the impact that ducts have not only on comfort but also on the performance of their investment in a high-efficiency HVAC system.” Ierna says.

Following completion of the pilot, Owens Corning is investing in additional resources to support the initiative, including materials to help contractors market the service in their areas. To learn more, visit owenscorning.com/retrofit-contractor.