Here's an article sent by my friend Ron Clark of Energywise that deserves a read by everyone in the business. I especially encourage some time spent reviewing the comments that follow.:

 

http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/business-advisor/wha...

Views: 190

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Great article.

Timely considering Home Depot believes they are going to help the home energy auditing business by offering walk-thru's. This will further hurt the true diagnostic evaluations. I agree with this article that it can't be efficiently and completely done with only one person in a couple hours. Six hours for 2 people sounds closer to fair for a report and analysis that will be worth it and valuable.
Its already gone the way of free for my neighbors...

Its ridiculous but, local municipalities have been training city officials (inspectors, utility employees etc.) because of the drop in new construction in home energy audits. They are performing the audits free of charge, and in one specific town, with very qualified and intelligent individuals. (I can only say this due to years of working in the construction industry with these officials and my relationship with them professionally)

I have gathered through my conversations with these inspectors that this has all been funded through the Federal Government, therefor, I don't think this is an isolated situation and all existing auditors now have the type of competition they should fear the most.....the "trusted officials" who do it for free.
Eric:

They are performing the audits free of charge, and in one specific town, with very qualified and intelligent individuals. (I can only say this due to years of working in the construction industry with these officials and my relationship with them professionally)"

No word of such activities here in Northern Nevada and trying to put a positive spin on this: if auditor training and field work is indeed being funded through ARRA dollars, that source (and subsequently, the programs) will certainly have an end date. Undoubtedly, word of good work done by the folks you mentioned will survive in the community and that reputation should provide opportunities for continuation of the services by the private sector. You also mentioned utilities providing audits...do you know to what standard?

Nonetheless, it's troubling that these services are being provided at no cost, while many industry professionals are struggling to make a living in the field. I trust the implications have been thoroughly discussed in the jurisdictions where you have seen this happening. Additional 411?
Here's a link to more info specific to a town local to me:

http://www.ci.elk-river.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={626E118E-03B0-45D1-8F5A-5C17A522B911}&DE=
Eric:

Thanks for the link...I used their search function and found this:

http://www.ci.elk-river.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={626E118E-03B0-45D1-8F5A-5C17A522B911}&DE=

ARRA reference is in the last paragraph. Also, made an opportunity to chat with Ross Pomeroy, who is in charge of the program in Elk River and he cleared up a few points in regard to their audit program snd future funding options. Ross was just leaving for the day and I'm optimistic he'll take a moment or two tomorrow to respond here in some detail. I told him of my concern that they were providing a service others are trying to sell and he commented there has been no negative feedback he is aware of from the professional community.

And if Ross is an example of the "very qualified and intelligent individuals" you mentioned who are running these programs, the folks of Elk River are in good hands. Still concerned about the private/public implications...

OK Ross, anxiously awaiting your detailed feedback!
The way you get comprehensive audits to be free of charge, is that you have your program that pays incentives for weatherizaton require them - both test ins and test outs - in order for customers to receive any incentives.

This way, contractors who are BPI or RESNET certified can offer the audit for free, and recoup the cost of the test in and out in the price of implementing the recommended measures.

As long as programs don't pay incentives for installing measures without this testing, contractors can make it work.

What kills it is when BPI certified contractors have to keep the cost of the recommended measures down low enough in order to compete against non BPI certified contractors who will install measures without testing, and charge less, and still get their customers the same incentives from the program.
Steve was kind enough to call me yesterday on this topic and we had a delightful conversation. I was happy to answer any questions he had concerning Elk River, MN's Project Conserve and the accompanying energy audits that we provide to our participants should they elect to have one.

First of all, this Project Conserve is foremost designed to educate interested homeowners on the issues of energy conservation. We empower participants to reduce their carbon footprints and save money at the same time through reductions in natural gas, electricity, and water use. Homeowners are educated by attending and watching workshops held throughout the program year.

As a means to offer personalized recommendations for reductions in energy use, The City of Elk River and Elk River Municipal Utilities paid for four of our building inspectors and four of our utilities workers to become certified as residential energy auditors through the Dunwoody College of Technology. The auditors work in pairs, thus bringing a collective 30+ years of building and energy experience with them on each audit. We offer blower door tests, thermal imaging, and combustion analysis with our audits. Our auditing methods were created by Vance Zehringer, a special consultant to Elk River Utilities with almost 40 years of experience in the energy industry. (Vance also writes the material for, and teaches every workshop.) At this point, we have over 90 homeowners signed up for energy audits.

As I told Steve, we have not received any negative feedback from local auditors. I can understand how local professionals may feel as if they can’t compete against a free service. In addition, we strive not to provide a cheap “Home Depot” walkthrough. Our audits were designed with the input of various professionals in the field and we have weekly training meetings for our auditors in order to stay up to date and to continually refine our methods.

Our objective with Project Conserve has always been to demonstrate to the nation that we as Americans can live more sustainably with only minor lifestyle changes. The audits serve as a means to personally educate homeowners on how to operate their homes and lives in a more efficient manner.

-Ross
Ross;

Welcome to HEP and thanks for making time to provide the detailed summary of your program.

During or recent conversation, we talked about Project Conserve currently being sustained by ARRA and you discussed your prospects for additional funding to sustain the program after that money is expended. For the benefit of folks following this Forum subject, could you tell us more about opportunities you have identified?

Also, on the basis of time involved in performing audits in your jurisdiction, could you give us a range of cost for each audit performed? Do those costs include the embedded expense of training, equipment, insurance, overhead, etc. ? (I'm working on a business plan...just kidding :-)

While I'm pleased to hear "we have not received any negative feedback from local auditors", I would like to hear an opinion from one of those locals...perhaps you are not listening hard enough :-) ? There is certainly more than enough work to be done for everyone in this field and my thinking is enlightened auditors in you area may feel it's going to happen whether they approve or not and the positive buzz and word of mouth your folks are generating should raise all boats.

Thanks again for being so forthcoming about your work
Great thinking and awarenesses - thank you. I believe we are trying to define something that is too big to fit into most of the current models. The whole residential Home Performance field, and "Energy Auditing" can easily be likened to the medical industry: One person goes to a doctor because they need a physical ("How am I doing, Doc?") and another goes to a doctor because they are sick. Same in our field. One customer calls for an energy audit because they want a professional to give them a 'score' or footprint, while another calls because they have high energy use, or a problem with the structure or HVAC.

Here is a great story about my day today: We got a call from a customer who was convinced their first floor was cold in the winter because there was something wrong with their heater or their house. When I arrived, all ready to do a slew of diagnostics, I found the computer printer directly in front of the central t-stat with a half inch space between the t-stat and the printer.... The heat from the printer (that stays on 24/7) is fooling the t-stat into thinking there is no need for heat - hence the house is cold! That audit didn't need any diagnostics and took me less than 5 minutes!

We believe that there is no "one size fits all" type of audit. We see ourselves as problem-solvers, and, like a plumber, the problem might be a hair clog (easy to fix) in a drain... or a broken sewer pipe... one solution is easy and inexpensive and the other hard and expensive. We must be flexible.
Tamasin, you have captured the essence of what a home diagnostic is all about. The service must not be free but we must be flexible.
Thank you. ENERGY is only part of the picture. Home Performance Professionals have the opportunity to pull it all together... to be the General Contractors of QUALITY AND EFFICIENT home improvement.



Adam Zielinski said:

The way you get comprehensive audits to be free of charge, is that you have your program that pays incentives for weatherizaton require them - both test ins and test outs - in order for customers to receive any incentives.

This way, contractors who are BPI or RESNET certified can offer the audit for free, and recoup the cost of the test in and out in the price of implementing the recommended measures.

As long as programs don't pay incentives for installing measures without this testing, contractors can make it work.

What kills it is when BPI certified contractors have to keep the cost of the recommended measures down low enough in order to compete against non BPI certified contractors who will install measures without testing, and charge less, and still get their customers the same incentives from the program.

RSS

Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.

Latest Activity

tedkidd commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"Yep, this thread has some good discussion. Back to dehumidification.  This may be…"
2 hours ago
Jim Gunshinan commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"Thanks for the clarification Nate. If I had the ability to precisely measure what $50 of health…"
3 hours ago
Nate Adams commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"Jim, Just a clarification, it's not DEhumidification I'm worried about in your climate,…"
3 hours ago
Chris McTaggart posted events
3 hours ago
Jim Gunshinan commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"Hi Nate, I'm glad this post has generated so much good discussion, since that is its main…"
4 hours ago
Diane Chojnowski's group was featured
Thumbnail

Facebook Pages

Does your company or organization have a Facebook Page?This group is for pros who have facebook…See More
4 hours ago
Tom White joined Diane Chojnowski's group
Thumbnail

Facebook Pages

Does your company or organization have a Facebook Page?This group is for pros who have facebook…See More
4 hours ago
David Valley's photo was featured

ceiling_infrared

Cold air infiltrating the lower right portion of this wall and ceiling.
4 hours ago
Christopher Morin's 2 blog posts were featured
4 hours ago
Kurt Shafer's blog post was featured

What is your opinion about members promoting products here?

Hello,I am a whole house fan and attic ventilation expert in Temecula CA. I started studying whole…See More
4 hours ago
Scott Mellberg's blog post was featured

Lessons from Energy Efficiency Advisors: Getting Homeowners Onboard with Home Performance

Homeowners are often aware of the different problems they experience in their homes: uncomfortable…See More
4 hours ago
Trip's discussion was featured

Starting a Home Weatherization Business. Considering it...

I am considering starting a home weatherization business. (I live in Southeast Alabama)  Currently…See More
4 hours ago

© 2014   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service