By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Sixty percent of homeowners aren't happy with their HVAC system, but ducts and filters can be a hard sell when compared to cabinets and counters. "HVAC is one of the last spaces in the home that's under-merchandised," says Honeywell's Daniel Joyce. But Honeywell hopes to change that with a new merchandising support tool. Its Online HVAC Systems Planner, available this month, is designed to help educate consumers on comfort issues, and as an aid to builders' salespeople.

The tool asks the buyer a series of questions to assess their needs, then makes customized recommendations. If someone has asthma, it might recommend air filtration; if they complained about hot and cold spots in their last home, they could be good candidates for zoning. The planner can be used on a Web site or a sales office. It's co-branded with Honeywell, with content customized to the builder. Honeywell is also talking with BuildView about including the tool in its options selection system.

The tool could also help protect builders from mold-happy lawyers. "During litigation about mold, ventilation issues come into play," says Joyce.