54 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | MAR. 15 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
> FOCUS BUSINESS IS BOOMING
Finally, to compensate for losses in fine motor control and
manual dexterity, light sources, such as fluorescent, compact fluorescent and LED, are not only more energy-efficient, but need to
be changed less frequently and are cooler to the touch, Lee said.
Contractors similarly report a growing popularity of and
success with LEDs among aging residents.
“I love LEDs for my older customers because they’re a ‘one
and done’ type of deal that keep homeowners off ladders where
they could slip and fall, and they also like the energy savings,”
said Brent Michelsen, president of City Wide Electric, West
Fargo, N.D., which specializes in residential work.
David Chandler, owner of Well Built Homes in Bound
Brook, N.J., also sings the praises of LED technology for seniors.
“These days, my older customers want more and brighter
light in the form of more recessed overhead and undercabinet
lighting, not just lamps that hold a maximum 60-watt bulb anymore,” he said. “I recently installed LED lighting in an older
customer’s shower, and she couldn’t believe how much lighter
it was. Seniors definitely recognize the difference with LEDs
and prefer them based on their brightness.”
Lee also stressed the importance of this market for electrical contractors going forward.
“Addressing the needs of the aging population is an excellent market opportunity for contractors,” she said. “Whether
designing a new home as a residence for life or modifying an
existing home to adjust for its occupants’ changing needs, a well-educated contractor can be a valued consultant to a homeowner
while earning that contractor additional business along the way.”
Safety and security
According to Rob Puric, director of product management for
Honeywell’s Connected Home division, seniors are one of the
company’s target audiences based on that group’s desire for
As a first defense, “older Americans often want lights to go
on at certain trigger times, both so that the house looks lived in
as well as because they don’t want to go into a dark house that
promotes tripping and falling or places where intruders could
hide,” he said. “In certain states, these systems require an elec-
trical license to install, and residents often prefer a contractor to
oversee them anyway so that they know they’re getting a profes-
sionally installed system that’s tailored to their specific needs.”
Puric said that home automation systems can be as simple or
sophisticated as the user wants, from options that simply turn
on certain banks of lights “to our Total Connect mobile app,
which controls security systems, lights, door locks, temperature
settings, and more and serves as ‘a private concierge’ that can
be accessed from anywhere.”
Another popular option targeted to baby boomers is the
company’s LYNX Touch security system.
“[It] has a two-way voice capability back to a central station
activated by a panic button on a panel or pendant that can send
police, fire or medical assistance if needed,” Puric said. “This
capability has become increasingly popular among seniors as
well as among their grown kids as a way for them to have peace
of mind regarding their parents’ safety. These systems can also
incorporate a Wi-Fi-enabled camera to show clips of events
that happen and help keep family members or neighbors in
closer contact with the older resident.”
Puric agreed that safety and security systems for baby boom-
ers represent great opportunities for electrical contractors.
“Roughly 20 percent of the 115 million homes in the U.S.
get professionally monitored security systems, the majority
of these by homeowners age 40 and over,” Puric said. “We’ve
found that seniors in particular don’t want to experiment with
them but rather prefer contractors to help them set up a system
that will meet their needs and be easy to use.”
He recommends that contractors establish relationships and
partner with their local security and HVAC dealers; both need
electrical contractors to install their systems.
Among other opportunities for contractors to serve the growing baby boomer market, Michelsen said that he has been
raising the height of electrical outlets in new residential construction applications from their previous location of 17½
inches to 22 inches because it’s 4–5 inches less that residents
have to bend over. This is an upgrade that he has made standard in his practice after doing it for his own parents and
seeing their positive response.
“We’ve also installed heated toilet seats, which a plumber
would provide but which an electrical contractor would have
to wire for, as well as an elevator for an older customer in a
wheelchair,” Michelsen said.
Levner said upgrades like these will grow in prevalence as
baby boomers age.
“A chair lift, elevator, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat or other
electrical solution may be the key to people being able to stay
in their homes,” she said.
Ultimately, electrical contractors are experts who are ideally
suited to serve baby boomers.
“Older Americans want to live well and continue to do the
things they want to do, and contractors are well-positioned to
suggest ways for them to do that,” Levner said. “Their advice,
counsel and support are critical to this community and the
contractors who do this well will see additional business
For more information on baby boomers or tips for contrac-
tors to better serve this sector, visit the AARP’s targeted site at
BLO OM is a 20-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products
industry. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Addressing the needs of the aging
population is an excellent market
opportunity for contractors.