90% of all my new energy audit customers now expect reduced or 'free' service. BPI has sites listing participating contractors who offer free audits. BPI has advertised rates of $250 for a whole house assement and audit.
As a professional who has been in the construction business since 1972; I feel this is an attack on the industry from administrators who are micro mannaging the industry. A blower door with all diagnostic equipment now costs around $6,000. Level 1 IR training and a 120 x 120 pixel IR camera, (one that meets the anticipated RESNET standards0, is approaching another $10,000. Add insurance, advertising and overhead; the $250 audit fee is a major income loss.
Perhaps the audit/sales/install business is what is pushing out the independent auditors. That spells loss of competiton and more expense for the home owner. Handy men and home owners who want to do their own retrofits will be out in the cold.
As with any government run enterprise; This business is going to be over influenced, controlled and limited to the big players at the independents and consumers expense.
Allen, now is not the time to loose faith, rather it is the time to look inward and ask yourself, "Have I let opportunities just sit on the table?"
Partner, partner, partner has to be the new slogan. Good HP people need good HVAC ppl. Good auditors need to work with good HP folks. Etc.
Now is our moment ladies and gentlemen. 2012 is supposed to be the biggest year in recent history for utility and state-funded EE programs for homeowners. Let's get in as many doors as we can, and then let personal integrity and strong business sense take care of the rest.
You have a good education in IR and I know there is money to be made in just infrared alone. You have a good building science background. I know there is money to be made in just building science.
Are you level III these days in IR?
I think maybe you might want to hook up with someone that is good at marketing and sales. Like I already stated, just IR alone will make you good money.
If you need some ideas, feel free to give me a buzz. I can assist with simple things that can develop some jobs.
Here is some good information for ya. You just have to get out there an get it.
Basically states that the middle income level is ripe for energy efficiency upgrades.
Jason Kaylor - JJ
AC Tool Supply
Not really, Jason. It's only the houses that are ripe for upgrades. From the report's Executive Summary:
A more aggressive effort to target middle income households will require both significant customer contributions to fund these energy saving measures and an interlocking framework of supportive public policy and more innovative program design.
To get it, you just have find the households who have discretionary funds and live in a supportive state and/or innovative service territory.
Best of luck to all!
I hate using "perfect storm" analogies so I will anyway - it is a perfect storm - more people are trained and ready to do something to save energy but the credit market that fueled house construction and rehabs has dried up, more people are out of work and almost all of us have less disposable income while we middle class folk continue to add on to our other utility costs.
What is your cell phone service costing you today? For my smart phone and 1 user it is $85 a month. For a family of four, you probably have four cell phones and are spending what $100 - 150 a month. Still have your land line? What is that costing you? $25-35 a month? Phone service is now costing you $175 - 200 a month.
What about your TV these days? The elimination or minimalization of broadcast TV has required many of us to go cable or satellite. What is that costing you $65 - 125 a month?
My water and sewer bill (both not metered so i can't save by using less) is $75 a month.
Then there is your internet connection that is allowing you to read this - what is that costing your? $25 - 40 a month depending on quality and speed.
Gasoline costs me $200 a month (and I'm lucky I live in a rural town).
My student loans payments for my two talented children is almost $500 a month. That was after supporting them through college on any spare income I had left over every month.
My utility bill is $800-900 a year - $70 a month - it is the least costly of any of my utility bills and you want to come up with $1,200 - 2,000 for a full diagnostic energy audit of my house and then $40,000 for deep energy retrofits, that you are going to guarantee me will save me 40% on my utility bill and I should do it because it will reduce greenhouse gasses.
Tell you what I'll do with my single-income household:
- Dump the cable TV - nothing to watch especially in an election year and I'll save $45 a month
- Get rid of my land line - I'll save $32 a month
- Ride my bike - I'll save $200 a month
- Make my children pay for their hyperinflated costly education - as soon as they find work and after they pay for all of this. - Save $500 a month
- File for bankruptcy and loose about $800 a month in credit card payments.
- Get married to a working woman and try to double my income that way (what is the payback period on that idea?)
- Hope that when ARRA funds dry up I'll still have a job.
Or get a deep energy retrofit and spend $42,000 and save $25 a month. Oh did I say my credit is tapped out and it would take me 100 months (9 years) to save up the $40,000 I need at $400 a month to fund my retrofit.
I don't think it is such a good time to do this, but I'm there is a workforce out there to help me. There's got to be a better way. Here in California the PUC provides $1 BILLION in ratepayer funds to help out the low-income sector (who by the way use the least amount of energy - see the EIA tables) through weatherization activities and utility rate reductions and $35 MILLION a year to fund middle-income rebates through the Energy Upgrade California (aka middle class weatherization) program. The theory is that the middle income can afford to retrofit their own homes - RIGHT!
Maybe next round the politicians will provide all homeowners a $50,000 grant to retrofit their homes instead of giving the banks trillions. That would stimulate things.
Allen, I just saw this post this week, and I understand your frustration. When you've put in hundreds of hours of training and thousands of dollars in equipment, it's hard to stomach the request for a free audit. Most homeowners aren't aware of the time and expense involved in learning the building science; they hear of free quick audits through utility programs and think that's the norm, or they are simply used to getting a free estimate from construction contractors and, in their ignorance, think this is similar.
Speaking on behalf of BPI, I want to address your statement that "BPI has sites listing participating contractors who offer free audits. BPI has advertised rates of $250 for a whole house assement and audit." In fact, BPI has never set prices for audits or retrofit work. We are a technical standards setting and credentialing organization for the home performance industry, and have never commented on or influenced rates for services. This is for the market to determine. Further, our website lists all BPI accredited contracting companies, and companies with BPI certified professionals on staff. We have no influence on what offers or promotions these contractors list on their own websites.
Regarding Hugh's point about finding qualified BPI training programs: BPI does not engage in training of any kind, and never has done. We are strictly a standards setting, credentialing and quality assurance organization. However, there are over 300 independent training organizations that offer courses to prepare candidates for BPI's exams. We do provide a training locator tool on our website http://www.bpi.org/schedules_training.aspx as a courtesy to the public, but we do not endorse or approve any particular course or provider. In response to Hugh's excellent point about help finding quality training, we have posted a number of vetting questions people can ask trainers on this page, to help guide and inform their search for good training. Please have a look and let us know if there are additional questions that would help people determine the best training for them. Thanks!
I think you are correct that the audit/sales/install business is cutting into the actual cost! To me this is a conflict of interest, they are using the audit as a Sales Tool. If the auditor is not independent, how does one be assured his assessment is not to generate additional income. The actual cost is made up in the additional work. An auditor is just that an auditor. In accounting your auditor does also do all the day to day accounting, because then there is a conflict of interest. I am worried that if energy auditors can then do the work and some companies that have no moral compass begin doing unnecessary or worse shoddy work, it will cast a bad shadow on the entire process. Enough ranting.
I didn't say that, Patrick Michaelyan, did. You got our posts mixed up.
Utility programs are way different than ARRA or government funds. It is regulation that is causing it, but it is still money from the private sector.
I deal with a ton of customers that are super busy in the exact field you guys are in, and yes we do deal with a lot of HVAC guys.....although I am not really sure what that has to do with anything. I know exactly how they generate work, and please do not take this the wrong way, you have to be able to sell. Either you can or you cannot. A business owner needs to realize this right off the bat. If you cannot sell and you cannot afford to hire it out, then you are probably doomed no matter what business you are in.
If someone has gone from failed business to failed business to failed business, then something is wrong. If you are reading this and that describes your past then it is okay to admit you need help in some fashion. Labor is cheap right now....figure out your weakness and solve it.
Sorry to be so blunt, but come on guys and gals, that is really what it boils down to.
I agree with your point. So far much of what auditing and retrofitting does relys on some type of subsidy.A sbisidy is nothing more than taking someones money and giving it to someone else
Whether it is an independent auditor or a contractor audit the important thing is the work is done right.
What good is an audit if the homeowner hires a contractor and the work is not done correctly. Or the homeowner is overwhelmed in trying to find a contractor to do the work and never completed.
To me either business model is ok. In the end it boils down to the ethics of all involved. An eithical contracor/auditor can do as good of job as an indenpendent auditor.
To me this is a conflict of interest, they are using the audit as a Sales Tool. If the auditor is not independent, how does one be assured his assessment is not to generate additional income
I've heard this line of reasoning in many discussions of energy auditing, and I don't think it holds water. A completely independent audit has appeal, it sounds nice and pure, free of conflicts of interest and self-serving financial motivation, but I think it's going to fall down 95% of the time in the real world. People with problems want them solved, and in residential construction-related areas they are very comfortable bringing in a single company to find the problems and fix them. The same applies to auto repair, law, medicine and a whole lot of other areas. And yes, there are plenty of operators out there in every field who are incompetent, unethical, or both, and as sad as it is, consumers need to learn how to choose wisely and protect themselves, or else get taken advantage of.
People sometimes draw parallels to home inspection, in which the buyer brings in a consultant to diagnose their house and then walk away without doing any of the work or even referring any contractors (the code of ethics for some or even most of the HI organizations forbids referring contractors). It might seem that energy auditors could cop this model and make it work, but so far I do not see that happening.
I'm a general contractor and people call me to figure out their problems and fix them all the time. I do whatever possible to stay in complete control of the project from start to finish, because that gives me the best chance of making it turn out to the customer's advantage. Building projects require a high level of technical expertise throughout, and the last thing I'm going to do is give a customer a path to follow and then cut them loose to try to hire and manage the right contractor(s) to get it done. Yes, I do have influence over what gets done and what it costs, and money goes in my pocket, but I do everything I can to give every customer a better job and more value than they're going to get anywhere else. If you go up against me and try to sell a $500-700-1000 full audit as an independent, you're going to get mowed down, because not only will I do the audit and whatever else is needed, and then I will bring the best tradesmen, methods, and materials and manage the whole thing.
Just about the only time I do diagnostics-only is when someone has completely botched an expensive project. I'm involved in a couple of things like that right now, and they're totally depressing.
Would you take your car to a local mechanic in a garage in his back yard to make repairs? That's the analogy you're attempting to use. I doubt many would take their complex new technology vehicles to such a repair place. In fact, as cars have become more complicated and technical, those type of folks have disappeared. Today most vehicles are taken to competent shops with certified mechanics. Therein lies the issue with the building science and home repair from an energy standpoint.
We've finally come to realize homes are very technical, especially as we tighten them up and make them more efficient and economical. Unfortunately, there are still many shade tree 'mechanics' out there that think that anyone can remodel/repair homes as long as they can run a saw, swing a hammer.
Our homes have become much like the automobile though. They are more technical and need certified mechanics to make repairs. Until the actual construction trades becomes certified, the only real choice are certified auditors.
And as Forest Gump said: "And that's all I have to say about that!"
Bryce, that's not the analogy I'm attempting to use. I'm quite sure you take your complex new technology vehicle to the repair person of your choice, have them diagnose the problem, and then hire them to make the repairs. You don't hire one shop to diagnose the problem and another to make the repairs, as many energy auditors think their customers ought to do.
I think what you're suggesting is that some of the general contractors, HVAC companies, and insulators that do audits and also do the work are not well-enough trained. That may be. I would suggest that many of the energy auditors who have certifications but little or no construction experience are also not well-enough trained.