Energy Efficiency

Swiss innovation Solar Activated Facade (SAF) receives Best of What's New Award from Popular Science (U.S.)

The Solar Activated Facade (SAF) distributed in North America by Nelson Architech GmbH, Switzerland, has gained the recognition of Popular Science. SAF is an innovative high performance insulation cladding system that has been developed in Switzerland and is now being marketed and sold in North America. It combines high performance with sustainability and design.

Interacting With the 21st-century Consumer

Consumers are only going to pay for what they need, but “what they need” hangs on so many variables, including location, socio-economic factors, and personal preferences. Homeowners in Brownsville, Texas, for example, likely have no need for a hyper-heating system which help endure harsh winter conditions and negative temperatures as low as minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit. Homeowners in New England may own a hyper-heating system, but may not experience such extreme conditions regularly, while Minnesotans may rely on it. Meanwhile families looking to save money – or those who just want a better world for their grandchildren – could first look to their utility usage as a place to make sacrifices.

But comfort shouldn’t be a sacrifice. We all want low-cost cooling and heating and we all want to preserve our environment, so comfort and affordability should not be mutually exclusive. Technology is readily available to help consumers personalize their comfort, but in order to do so, it’s pivotal for sales and installation professionals to understand their needs and which factors they prioritize. You know the difference that sustainable technology can bring to a project, but not every homeowner cares about “going green.” Here, we’ve outlined some of the consumers you’re likely to encounter so you can get a better idea of how these technologies fit into their lifestyle.

The Realist

Realists don’t necessarily care how much they are paying, but feel they better get a product worth that price. A product being “worthy” can mean a number of things, from reliability to convenience to experience. A realist getting his or her brakes replaced, for example, is more likely to spend more at the commercial brake shop the next town over versus the local garage in town if the experience is better. Essentially, the realist will spend both time and money for the comfort of what he or she views as reliable.

The realist comes to market expecting that if he or she invests in zoned comfort solutions, it will be a one-time expense. It’s easy to convey to the realist that, while upfront costs may be higher, the efficiency over the life of the system will be so dramatically different and upkeep will be so easy, that the money spent is actually money saved.

The Green Consumer

Understandably, the Green Consumer is most concerned with the environment and they are doing everything they can to live sustainably. For the Green Consumer, sustainability isn’t a trend but a lifestyle. What they consume is going to be the most eco-friendly option available and they are willing to pay a premium for that distinction.

As energy awareness moves from being a trend to a norm, green products are synonymous with a modern appearance. Clean and compact systems are appealing because these consumers associate a clean look with clean living. This is not without reason: Green Consumers know that our products minimize energy waste and the targeted control provides customizable efficiency giving the end user control over his or her energy usage, which in turn instills confidence that he or she is being as green as possible.

The Tech-savvy Consumer

The Tech-savvy Consumer is like the Green Consumer in many ways – modern-looking equipment implies the most recent technology and these consumers are willing to pay premiums to be the most up-to-date. As a result, Tech-savvy Consumers are the early adopters of technology and are most impressed when all of that technology is contained in a single space. Like the Green Consumer, new technology may be trendy, but more than that, it is adopted in hopes of minimizing extra tasks. Being able to able to control many tasks from anywhere on a tablet or smartphone is the goal, but even better than that is technology that is customizable and autonomous. It’s not just comfort at the touch of a button, it’s comfort without having to touch the button at all.

Apps like Mitsubishi Electric’s kumo cloud™ and other Wi-Fi-enabled controls are moving the market in this direction. These technological advances allow consumers to not only set their thermostats from home but also preset the temperature in any zone to maximize efficiency and control, but minimizing how frequently they must interact with the system.

The Concerned Parent

Any of the homeowner types listed are obviously caring for their space, that’s why they’re looking for efficient systems to begin with, but parents have the added concern of caring for their children. We’ve all heard the phrase “baby-proofing” a home, but how many parents are considering indoor air quality as a factor in their child’s health?

That’s where zoning systems come in. Indoor units moving refrigerant, like the MVZ wall-mounted unit, require such little maintenance and, in the rare instances that they do need upkeep, are so easily accessible that they barely cause interruption in the day-to-day operations of a home. More importantly, filters pop in and out easily and can be rinsed and replaced quickly, keeping allergens and pollutants out of the air.

The Cautious Consumer

So many of us fall into this category. We want to keep all of our monthly costs down (especially utilities!), we want to be frugal and we’re willing to make sacrifices to fit a budget. The Cautious Consumer is typically on a fixed income, so being certain to “waste not and want not” is crucial. They are the homeowners who make sure the lights are off in unoccupied rooms and who minimize shower times. There is a lot of overlap here with those who are trying to be green, but the means are different. Those who are green are willing to pay to be energy-conscious, whereas the inverse is true for Cautious Consumers: They are green to avoid overspending.

The appeal of a ductless system for the Cautious Consumer is the ability to personalize comfort. Like turning the lights off when leaving a room, targeted comfort minimizes energy waste and maximizes the energy that is used. The trick when working with a Cautious Consumer is to help them become the Realist – show them that money spent on higher upfront costs is an investment in their long-term fiscal and physical comfort. Lastly, these homeowners intend to be in their home upward of 20 years, if not longer; providing them with the security of a reliable system is a must.

Naturally, many of these consumers are going to overlap, but above all else, giving sustainable technology a toehold in the marketplace is about meeting those needs. The products already exist, of course. The goal here is to adjust our focus toward understanding the consumer personally and recommending the best systems for their lifestyle.

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