Refrigerant and the EPA

In 1990, the US Congress passed the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to set standards to control the handling, and even the types, of allowed refrigerants. These rules went into effect on July 1, 1992 and the EPA has been enforcing them ever since.

One of the standards the EPA implemented is that anyone who deals with refrigerant is required to keep track of the refrigerant they used and reclaimed for the past three years. Through my years at dESCO I have seen many different ways of addressing this issue; from Excel spreadsheets to boxes the techs should fill out on printed invoices. Sadly, most of these methods fail because they are too complicated to maintain for a long period of time. Many contractors have even adopted the ignorance is bliss mentality and don't bother tracking this at all. However, given the fact that the EPA can fine you up to $27,500 per day for each violation they find, none of these options are attractive solutions.

Fortunately ESC can help you out. Follow these simple steps and you'll be collecting all this information automatically when you create your invoices. Best of all, this data will flow to great report you can print if you ever have to talk to the EPA.

Simple Setup

To begin tracking refrigerant you will have to setup a history code for each type of refrigerant you handle. This can be done by going to Sales → Enter History Codes. Click Add New and create a code for each type of refrigerant you need to track. Make sure the Usage Type field shows the actual type of refrigerant as that is what will appear on your report.

Simple Use

Once you have those codes entered, simply enter them when creating an invoice and you will be prompted to enter the amount used. Enter a positive number for the amount charged. If you reclaim some refrigerant as well, enter the code again and make the amount reclaimed a negative number instead.

To generate a report showing the amount used and reclaimed, go to Sales → Reports → Usage Report. Change the Date Serviced filters to show the period you want to see and click Preview. The report will show each invoice and customer that contains one of the history codes you used, broken down by refrigerant type.

Advanced Setup

Using a history code is great, but since it doesn't have any accounting fields tied to it, you can't use it to bill the customer for the refrigerant. This results in you potentially entering 3 billing codes per invoice to track the refrigerant usage: one to bill, one to track the amount charged and one to track the amount reclaimed. However, by just taking a little extra time you can bypass that and do all three at the same time. You'll do this by creating an assembly item that includes the refrigerant and the history codes. Let's take a look at the setup to see what is involved.

The first thing you will need to do is to create a Stock inventory part for the refrigerant. This data is stored in the same table as the history codes, so you'll need to use a different name for it. Don't worry about the description too much as the customer will not end up seeing this one.

Now, create another part and make this one an Assembly. On the Assembly tab, add the Stock Item you made and the history code you originally created. If it is likely that you will be both recharging and reclaiming refrigerant at the same time, add the history code twice. Each sub-assembly should have a quantity of one. See the example below for a good idea of what this should look like when you're finished. Switch to the General tab and make sure your price per pound is entered in the Price A field then save it.

Advanced Use

When you use the new assembly item on an invoice you will immediately be prompted to enter the amount used, followed by the amount reclaimed (if you added that history code twice). After entering those amounts you will still have to change the quantity of the assembly to show how many pounds of refrigerant you are charging to the customer. Note that the actual stock part and both billing codes are set not to print, so the only thing the customer will see is the description of the assembly.

Helpful Hint

Technicians will not see the sub-assemblies on the mobile devices. This is not an issue as most of the time the amount billed will equal the amount charged. In cases where this is different or there is a reclaimed amount, have the tech enter that information in the description of the item on the invoice.

Note the quantity and any notes associated with the assembly item when you import the invoice from mobile so that you'll know what amount to put in when you're prompted.

 Written by Eric Rausin
Featured in May 2014 Newsletter

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