Title 20 takes effect on the pool and spa industry

CaliforniaWhen word spread that the California Energy Commission intended to implement energy efficiency testing standards for spa manufacturers, the industry greeted the news with some dismay. But fast-forward a year, and the timing is such that what seemed to be a disaster is now looking like a beneficial selling point.

Manufacturers have responded to Title 20, and 238 models had been certified as of July 16, just as consumers across the United States are beginning to demand that the products they invest in are as energy efficient - and therefore eco-sensitive - as they can be.

"In terms of consumer consciousness, in the past year there has definitely become a huge awareness of issues related to eco-friendliness," says Lissa Poincenot, director of marketing, Watkins Manufacturing. "And obviously, the cost of energy has become something that is on everybody's mind.

"I think the [combination] of Title 20, ensuring that spas are energy efficient and making sure the whole industry is stepping up to the level that is important to consumers," says Poincenot, is the main priority right now.

It's time to ramp up efforts to get everyone in the know - consumers, dealers and manufacturers alike - because California has set a precedent that other states may one day soon adopt.

Testing For The Masses

Prior to Title 20, spa manufacturers only tested specific components of the spa, verifying it was safe to bring onto the market, much like the testing of household appliances. Each manufacturer outlined its own requirements, leaving an expectations gap from one manufacturer to the next.

"Up until now, Watkins has certainly done all we can to test our products with third-party sources and tell consumers specifically the results of those tests," says Poincenot. "And yet that was something we were doing independently. There was no place that everybody went for the same level of testing."

However, under Title 20, the CEC named a number of universal components that would be tested to quantify a spa's energy efficiency. The CEC looked at volume, voltages, temperatures, watt-hours and the duration of the tests to determine a standard test that could be used by all manufacturers.

"This is a shift because it does provide a place where all manufacturers can be measured against a certain threshold," says Poincenot.

Lining Up

Aiding the dealer base in understanding Title 20 so it can in turn help consumers understand it is the next step, says Poincenot. It's early in the game, but now's the time to be sure that when consumers ask about energy efficiency, sales staff can point to CEC standards much like appliance dealers point to Energy Star.

"It's definitely a new piece of an ongoing puzzle," Poincenot adds, "so we are modifying and refining our communications to help get that message out. It's going to be an ongoing process, getting information out to people."

Consumer consciousness has never been more focused on energy. The timing is great for dealers to communicate to consumers that this is an important issue and will make their ownership experience all the more positive.

For more information on Title 20, visit the CEC's Web site at www.energy.ca.gov/appliances or contact your vendor.

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