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...

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On the topic of Energy Audit costs , there will no doubt be different levels or stratas to the biz - who is to say that

all evaluations that get results at any cost level are better or worse then an audit whether, Bpi or Resnet or neither . Take the

$99.00 audit aka the value audit. I am a certified energy auditor/ Analyst: I prefer our paradigm = Pay a reasonable fee - $89- $129 , based on sq footage Get intel like themal images of the easily fixable integrity issues,               Get a lighting audit- many energy audits don't do this as a subset- I don't know why!

( switching to SSL, always a good way to pare kWh consumption)Education regarding usage - or over use and waste.

 

Speak to issues of insulation gaps/ voids- Show how easy it is to stop air infiltration like the attic hatches that get

improved, or the benefits of caulking- We show people that they illogically purchase/ waste/repurchase energy - we craft solutions specific to that particular home and then when we're done the customer gets a gift -             Led light or a water heater jacket are two examples.    So when people patronize my business,

 they spend a small amount and receive real value. Every customer gets RESULTS

material gains have been made. I would be happy for would be customers to consider what they want they want

 to pay, the scope of the intel, with out the hard sell of one solution , we work to provide solutions that are easily done,

with out the hassle of a comprehensive audit which could point out dozens of problems. I'm not against comprehensive audit for hundreds of dollars - the reality is we would benefit more from 90% of bldgs being slightly improved then a small % making their place 40% better, ideally we would cut energy waste in all bldgs - Its an ongoing process but at least there is progress being made on multiple fronts!Dennis McCarthy said:



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.

Good thread.

The words from Ross via Elk River and Steve Walco are encouraging.

The words from A. Tamasin Sterner are ones to live and operate our businesses by!

The comment from Dennis above stating some energy improvements on 90% of buildings is better than 40% reductions by only a few buildings is also a fair statement, but one that could open up a healthy debate.

Thanks!!

I got it, no installation without testing. This is another very important point in the discussion, someone always pays. In order to weed out tire kickers, the homeowner must understand this. Transparency is key here.

Show me the test results! 

Dennis McCarthy said:



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.

Amen.

If you've got a photo of the printer-tstat combo please add to our "Hall of Shame"

A. Tamasin Sterner said:

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.

FREE means 'you get what you pay for'

 

Dennis' comment above about how getting some energy improvements on 90% of buildings would be better than 40% reductions by only a few buildings is an issue where reasonable people could disagree. 

 

What is the real goal?  Serve as many customers as possible a little bit, or get the most energy savings you can get, even if it means serving fewer customers overall?

 

A lot of homes have been and are being insulated without any air sealing.  Leading to problems in some cases, or just missed energy savings in others.  After a home has been insulated, it is very unlikely that anyone is ever going to go back up in that attic and air seal to capture additonal energy savings - at least not for quite a while. 

 

However to do a comprehensive job correctly can be an expensive proposition.  A lot of old homes need a lot of work.  If you start tightening up a house, sometimes replacing the furnace and water heater become prerequisites due to comubstion safetly issues, driving costs up considerably.  

 

If you are talking about doing a comprehensive job worth $10,000 to $20,000, that is going to save 40% or more of a home's energy use, then a $500-$600 comprehensive Home Performance energy audit is a small percentage of the whole job and a small price to pay to ensure the right work is done the right way.  

 

It is hard for most contractors to justify spending 3-4 hours on testing at a home, and another couple hours in the office writing up a report and scope of work, with no payment and no guarantee the customer will move forward with any work. 

It's hard to propose to a customer to air seal and insulate their home if you haven't already tested their combustion appliances to make sure they aren't backdrafting and they likely won't backdraft after you've finished the job.   Sometimes you have to propose replacing their heating equipment before you can proceed with insulation and air sealing. 

 

Yet Home Performance contractors are under tremendous pressure to do all this testing for free or at a loss, in order to minimize up front costs to homeowners and to improve program cost effectiveness.   I think one good solution would be to promote more on bill financing programs where the customer has no up front costs, yet contractors can charge fair prices for their work and testing, while achieving greater energy savings.

 

Adam - My perspective on saving energy- ( speaking kWhs reductions) it can and will be achieved by the switch

to SSL, ( Leds). It is my primary focus as an energy loss specialist. Fair to say if the goal is to reduce household

energy use there are many facets - Airsealing,Filling insulation gaps, etc -  My speciality is lighting audits - as an industry insider, its a wonderful/ challenging era,   virtually ALL houses  waste electricity, whether because of out dated , under performing  lights, or leaking ductwork!

 

The thing is although its logical to want to tighten up a bldgs wastefulness ( it Should be done) , but

its not mandated!

   Ah but lighting, the reality of banned / unavailable incandescent lighting makes being an E- loss specialist - SSL

professional a great thing .People who have NO CLUE about Leds are the vast majority and within 2-5 yrs most

will be switching over to some degree  from just buying 1 to people who buy for institutions ( mass purchases)

 

This huge market needs knowledgable folks to help educate or to help people discern what a quality SSL product

means to them, their quality of life,as well as economic or enviromental aspects. Within the next 2-3 years of all energy efficiency improvements( as a trend) this is one that will be implemented the most.

 

 I try not to oversell what doing just this one task means & I don't denigrate any actions that reduce energy consumption,

But lighting is finally into the phase of Leds and with this change will come a definite reduction of kWhs used.

 Analysis says were all about to see considerable savings on electric ( 18%  Res to up to 40% for retails/ commercial)

the tricky part on the learning curve is to have people not only discern quality but to have them buy it and ignore the garbage that some are trying to sell to the masses - Lowes/Hd , Costco come to mind !

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