Robert Bean, registered engineering technologist, presented a special Webinar with the Radiant Panel Association (RPA) last November titled, the “Human Factor in HVAC.”

“When it comes to designing HVAC systems for humans, first and foremost, we must design for people as opposed to designing for buildings,” he said. His message to all HVAC designers focused on three rules:

1) Design for people.
2) Design for simplicity.
3) Design for familiarity.
The presentation addressed statistics on indoor environmental quality for an aging population within North America. Highlights of the Webinar included:

  • More than 50% of occupants in U.S. homes are unhappy with their thermal comfort systems. Consumers had three major complaints: indoor air quality/particles in the air, uneven temperatures and high utility costs.


  • The client base in North America values simplicity. Thermostats being produced by today’s manufacturers are full of complicated mechanisms that need to be simplified for the aging consumer.


  • The average consumer isn’t impressed with the wizardry of variable speed injection pumps and condensing boilers, they just want their HVAC systems to work. They also want to be able to recognize what they are buying.


  • Designing for familiarity involves making components less technical and similar to other electrical mechanical consumer products in the home, i.e., dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.


  • In North America, an estimated $43 billion is spent on anti-aging products compared to only $24 billion on residential HVAC equipment, which could potentially offer the same benefits to consumers through improved indoor air quality.


  • The industry may be busy selling radiant-based HVAC systems, but that’s because the number of building permits is growing. Since 1973, the market share for hot water heating or furnace systems has not changed.


  • Consumers want towel warmers and warm floors in the new American home.


  • To be totally satisfied with the indoor environment, a client should budget between 12% and 15% of the construction cost.


  • We have a population base close to retiring at a time when fuel and electricity are at one of their highest peaks. Roughly 70 million baby boomers - with high disposable income - are approaching retirement and desire two things in their home: comfort and lower operating costs. According to Robert Bean, HVAC tradesmen in the comfort business need to be aware of the huge population base that can benefit greatly from what they have to offer.

    By Suzette Rubio