This very question was recently posed in the BPI Group. Is there a conflict of interest when an energy auditor also offers contracting or weatherization services to their clients? At first glance, many would say that the easy answer is "yes". The common reasoning is that people will steer their clients towards the products they sell in order to make as much money as possible. After all, that's what we are all in business for, isn't it? The other answer was "it's just human nature".
Well I have a very strong opinion on this topic and my answer is a resounding NO! I have spent a great deal of time and money to become certified as both a RESNET HERS Rater and a BPI Building Analyst. I have also been through the Home Performance with Energy Star training. All three of these protocols have standards of conduct and quality, as well as means to audit the results to insure these standards are upheld. My personal goal is to help home owners solve their comfort and efficiency issues in the most cost effective manner possible. I do this by performing the audits to the best of my ability based on the knowledge that I have gained. After completing the audits, I give the home owners a list of prioritized improvements, similar to that of the HPw/ES protocol. I also give them a summarized list of recommendations to improve the issues in each area of the home. HERE IS THE KEY, I have now gained the home owner's trust because, similar to a doctor, I have given them a science based prescription to treat their home's issues.
The one thing most home owners are going to want at this point is.......me (or you). Who better to make sure that all the improvements are completed exactly to the specs of the audit than the person that performed the audit? Do you really want to put all the effort into the audits only to find out that some jack leg contractor screwed everything up? Do you really think the home owner is going to know how to manage the contractors so that the improvements are performed in the right order so one doesn't inhibit the other? When I talk to a home owner, I tell them up front that I can perform the audit only or I can provide them with the contractors to complete the work to the specs of the audit. This gives them a single point of contact and billing. Because I have taken the time to choose quality contractors, it also assures they are licensed, insured, and actually know what they are doing.
I can certainly understand the point of those that believe there IS a conflict of interest. Let's face it, there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there who's only goal is to line their pockets with as much cash as they can squeeze out of every sucker they can find. What is unfortunate is that so many of us have been taken advantage of by someone like that, that we become cynical.
Remember the old saying "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade"? We are being given a tremendous opportunity to go out there and take this industry by the horns and steer it in a direction where the good guys win. Let's prove to people that this industry can be run by educated people that have their client's best interests at heart. The more of us that stand up for our industry, the more we expose the bad guys out there. While we are doing that, what's wrong with trying to earn a living for ourselves and those associated with our businesses (employees, vendors, etc)? As long as you are up front with your clients and keep their best interests at heart, I don't see a conflict of interest at all.