Our company is a regional partner organization for Home Energy Score and we are getting ready to launch the program this month. I wanted to start a thread to get some thoughts.
These are just a couple thoughts I had so far, but I'd really enjoy some dialogue about this new and exciting program.
LOL. BPI has already started, I'm sure. There will be another half dozen rolling out as soon as the recertifications begin to dwindle down with the new bunch they are promoting, today.
Interesting paper attached comparing measured to rated fuel economy for cars in Japan (our transportation person says he hasn't seen good data for the US). Results are in Figs 8-11. Up to nearly a factor-of-two difference in actual vs rated. Sound familiar? Unlike good home asset ratings, the predictions seem to be systematically low.
Evan, this is an awesome data set, thanks for posting. Interesting indeed that the transport sector accounts for only 20% of Japan's CO2 emissions and they have all this good (voluntarily generated) data while here in CA our transport emissions are closer to 36% and yet we do not. CARB (DOT?) should take note.
By analogy, similar logger-based policy evaluation systems need to be built for home appliances and other discrete end-use building components (leveraging NIST's new H2G standard or other data collection infrastructure as appropriate).
Imagine how helpful it would be to policy makers to have such actual measured data to check up on the lab test-based appliance standards and the modeling based assumptions built into IECC/Title 24.
Are you guys working on anything like this yet? (We're getting off topic so maybe we should continue this offline.)
I sure hope no auditor or contractor would rely on the HES! It does not come anywhere near close enough to build an actionable work scope or contract.
But that wasn't my point. The HES does make recommendations for individual homes based on average assumptions. And where the HES recommendations are wrong (as they often will be), they create confusion in the minds of consumers. Confusion is generally a barrier to action on the part of homeowners.
The evaluations I alluded to should be baked in to any HES deployment. And the tool should be evaluated to the best extent possible give the existing pilot data--and the evaluation published. Market investment is encouraged by reducing uncertainty.
Good post, Mike...
Between you and James, I am certainly beginning to question the value of including these "stock" recommendations. However, I don't really see the value (from a homeowner perspective) of publishing evaluation data. Do you really think any homeowner will take the time to review this data to cross-reference it with the score for their home? All they will care about is how they can save money, make their home more comfortable, and increase the value of their home. And I think that, when used properly, the HEScore tool can accomplish that.
I do agree though that it will decrease uncertainty among energy professionals, but remember that the HEScore is intended primarily to bring value to the homeowner (or home buyer in a hypothetical real estate transaction), and it is not necessarily meant to bring new value to energy efficiency professionals other than allowing them to present increased value to customers.
I am not suggesting that homeowners would be remotely interested in evaluation data. But programs, policy makers, contractors, and other would be!
I can't think of who would argue against increased value to customers. But you're making the leap to assert the increased value is there before proving it. Does the data show that the HES leads to increase adoption behaviors, and that is does so more cost-effectively than other mechanisms? If yes, great, let's use it! If no, then let's change it or invest in something differently. But we need the data and analysis before the conclusions!
I assert the increased value based on the theory of being able to place a value on energy efficiency. I think Evan stated it eloquently in his previous post on this thread: "Transparency is central to the economic theory of efficient and properly functioning markets, and when it comes to energy efficiency that transparency is currently sorely lacking".
However, until we actually begin to implement the score, that's all it is - theory, I feel that feedback such as found on this thread and in the field will be important to ensuring that the score accomplishes all the goals it intends to. Remember that increased adoption behaviors are not solely the goal of the Score. I believe that if energy efficiency benchmarking (such as with the HEScore tool) takes hold in the real estate industry, it will have a predictably positive domino effect on the rate of energy efficiency upgrade implementation.
Implied in "Transparency is central to the economic theory of efficient and properly functioning markets, and when it comes to energy efficiency that transparency is currently sorely lacking" is the concept of complete information. "Transparency" doesn't mean much without the information being accurate--and when we're expecting the market to act by the aggregate actions of individuals, in individual homes, making individual decisions, signing individual contracts, etc., complete information makes information specific to individual houses, not averages. Averages alone provide incomplete and potentially very misleading information--and can cause great market inefficiency. So I guess we agree on that!
I would argue that everything is relative. Granted this might not be considered transparent by those who delve deep (or are restricted from doing so) into the underlying data, but coming from the perspective of a homeowner, the notion of having an energy efficiency score is an increase in transparency than if they did not have one.
Although the information may not be accurate to within a fraction of a percent, the tool is not so flawed that it would score an energy hog as a 9 or an energy efficient home as a 2. Furthermore, inherent in a 1-10 scoring system that only uses whole numbers is an assumed range of deviation.
The fact is that a homeowner who has a score done will have a better idea of their home's efficiency than if they did not have one at all. A score alone will not be as good as a comprehensive audit, but when we combine a score with a full audit, we can seek to get the best of both worlds.
Averages alone do not inherently lead to incomplete and misleading information - only if they are utilized without the proper context.
You are right that the data on adoption of HEScore recommendations is still pending.
But if you check out the attached list of rigorous third-party impact evaluations of our Time-of-Sale EnergyCheckup program over the years, you'll see there is absolutely no question that homebuyers do indeed value and act on home inspector energy recommendations, often without using any other rebates or incentives.
The findings are consistent. Time of sale rating + recommendation programs produce savings that are way deeper than OPower-like mass-mail reports and vastly more cost-effective than any of these first-generation (high-cost) Home Performance with EnergyStar experiments.
I realize such program comparisons are odious, and I don't mean to suggest that either of these "bookend" program approaches are unworthy... I think we continue to need them both.
I just think it's important for utilities and other program designers to understand that time-of-sale rating programs (e.g., HEScore and EnergyCheckup) fill the yawning gap between them.
Res-retrofit remains such a big challenge that we really can't risk choosing just one approach or another. We need to use all the programmatic tools in the shed.
[Alert: the following is not specific to the HEScore, although it does follow closely from this conversation.]
Hi Tom, it's been a while!
Thanks for your addition. My favorite part is the statement "often without using any other rebates or incentives." In several locations, we've already cracked that nut internally and in the market. For example, one of our franchisees, ABC Cooling, just one the EUC award for most completions in 2011. They are currently crushing their 2011 numbers (and their own budget projections). And if the EUC program went away tomorrow, they'd be doing exactly the same thing. Their micro-market has been transformed. We know exactly what it takes, and one reason I'm asking for data over dogma w.r.t. the HEScore (using Evan's vetted acronym although I saw no confusion on this thread) is because any cost--and public program have a cost--which doesn't move us forward faster is unnecessary. Any cost with slows us down is bad. Looking at programs like yours that work and looking at contractors who are able to deploy and get results are good things, and we ought to build on this. One big similarity between your approach and ours, and something I've shared with DOE and with many others publicly is the simple reality that leveraging existing transactions and interactions is an enormous opportunity that is generally ignored. Customer acquisition can be very expensive (much less so for an enlightened HVAC-based contractor than just about anyone), and ignoring people already visiting the home and trying to insert new people into the home isn't necessarily the best approach.
Bottom line. Want to scale? Don't miss the opportunity to leverage existing transactions into a more comprehensive whole-house conversation and action.