Plumbing and HVAC Industry Outlook for 2021

The past 12 months have presented numerous challenges for those in the home services sector. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss the industry’s current situation along with growth prospects for 2021 and beyond.

HVAC Industry Growth Projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC technicians are poised to see 4% employment growth through to 2029. This places the sector right in line with expectations for the broader American economy.

These optimistic projects should come as no surprise given the HVAC industry’s essential nature. The vast majority of customers seeking HVAC services do so not for entertainment but rather to ensure their family’s comfort and safety. 

In fact, HVAC sales have boomed throughout 2020 as consumers spent more time at home and experienced a heightened awareness of the need to take care of their respiratory health.

Consumers aren’t pinching pennies when shopping for HVAC equipment, either. According to Trane CEO Michael Lamach, sales of the company’s costlier high-efficiency units skyrocketed in 2020.

Jackson Comfort Systems, another major HVAC manufacturer, also reported record growth in the summer of 2020, with indoor air quality products leading the way. The company also saw its replacement unit sales increase by 25%.

The takeaway? The HVAC industry’s growth prospects are very strong – not necessarily in spite of COVID-19 but, arguably, because the pandemic has driven people to upgrade their existing systems.

Plumbing Industry Growth Projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers should also see 4% growth in employment through to 2029. Again, this places the sector in line with the overall economy’s projected growth during the same period.

Like HVAC, plumbing is not a discretionary service. Consumers seek it out to remedy a particular issue, often urgently.

In some parts of the country (like Arizona), equipment such as water softeners is absolutely essential for ensuring quality drinking water. In my experience, many consumers – upon switching to working from home – found themselves lacking the high-quality drinking water they had at the office, which prompted them to purchase filtration devices, including softeners.

The takeaway here is, again, that the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled growth in the sector despite challenges.

Health and Safety Considerations

While the HVAC and plumbing sectors are in strong positions at the end of 2020, adjusting to the new climate hasn’t been easy. Gone are the days when technicians could show up to work showing any signs of illness whatsoever. 

As we head into peak cold and flu season, this will continue to represent a challenge for companies that may not have enough personnel to comfortably handle employees staying home sick.

Companies will also need to account for continued spending on personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, which is not an insignificant cost.

So while the plumbing and HVAC industries have arguably emerged from 2020 with stronger footing, we have our work cut out for us as far as continuing to grow.

The exact ramifications of this challenge remain to be seen. However, as anyone who’s been involved in the HVAC industry for an extended period, there’s no reason to expect we won’t comfortably rise to the challenge as we have countless times in the past.

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