Why do we go to doctors when we are sick? Isn’t it to find out what is wrong with us? Don’t we rely on our doctors’ education, expertise, and experiences to provide us with a proper diagnosis? Sometimes they are able to diagnose our problem and provide us with a plan of action or prescription to make us feel better. Sometimes, they refer us to a specialist that can better diagnose our problems. To 99% of the population, that makes total sense.

So why do homeowners continually try and blindly diagnose their home’s problems, when most of them have no education, expertise, or experience in diagnosing these problems? Even more baffling is that homeowners continue to rely on sales people to diagnose and recommend treatment for their home’s energy and comfort problems because of “perceived expertise”. Let’s face it, a window guy is going to sell them windows, an HVAC guy is going to sell them a new A/C or furnace, an insulation guy is going to sell them insulation, etc, etc, etc. If they are lucky, they may even get a company willing to offer them a “free energy audit” prior to selling them their products or services. Is it any surprise, that after that “free” audit, that whatever they are selling will fix their problem “and by the way Mr. or Mrs. Homeowner, here is the proof”?

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I helped a homeowner who was convinced he needed new windows, which would have been a $10,000 - $15,000 venture. Do you think a good window sales person would have discouraged him from that purchase? What results do you think one of their “free” energy audits would have produced? As it turned out, the homeowner had a serious duct leakage issue which a million dollars worth of windows wouldn’t have fixed. Instead, his immediate issues were addressed for less than $1,000. Not only did he save money, but he actually had his issue properly diagnosed and was given a prescription for the cure.

A certified and experienced home energy auditor is educated in treating the home as a system, like a doctor treats our bodies as a system. Like our bodies, every home is different. Therefore every diagnosis and treatment is unique to that specific house. Think of an energy audit as a physical for your house.

You wouldn’t go to your pharmacist and tell him you need 30 tablets of Prednisone because the tissues in your hypopharynx were swollen due to a case of acute sinusitis. Not only do most people not know what that means, but for all we know the medication could be dangerous. So, why would a homeowner decide that thousands of dollars of windows, doors, insulation, solar panels, or whatever would solve their home’s particular problems? (Especially when the danger is wasting their money while not actually fixing the problem)

Homeowners pay for health insurance for a reason. Why not get them to invest in a little piece of mind insurance? The money they spend on an energy audit will be well worth it and more than likely save them a bundle of money over what the sales guy is prescribing. Remember, don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper.

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Comment by Jon LaMonte on November 26, 2010 at 3:09pm
Paul, how about the HO insurance providing discounts to homeowners that make there home more durable? We don't have the issue in the south, but does insurance cover damages caused by ice damming?
Comment by Paul D McGovern on November 26, 2010 at 5:55am
I'm sure a case can be made for the fact that people who live in healthy homes are less likely to get sick ...how can we get the Health Insurance companies on board to help subsidize remediation after a comprehensive energy audit? Just as HO Insurance companies discount policies for homes with security systems, why shouldn't Health Insurance companies discount rates to someone who is concerned enough about the health of their environment, to retrofit to improve IAQ?
Comment by A. Tamasin Sterner on November 24, 2010 at 2:05pm
We agree, and would like to add a couple thoughts. At Pure Energy, we think of ourselves as Problem Solvers and Trouble-shooters, and Coaches. If the problem can be solved quickly, it is an inexpensive audit. If the problem can't be solved quickly and we need to perform diagnostics to help us understand the problem (such as when a doctor orders tests), that audit will cost more. We have done so many audits, that often we can "fix" the person's problem while on the phone with them! They tell us their symptoms, their house type, their energy use pattern (high baseload? high summer seasonal use? high winter seasonal use?), and we tell them the problem and how to fix it, or we make an appointment and do a visual and/or diagnostic analyses.

I think one issue that is making so many Home Performance Professionals upset is that we thought we'd have more grateful customers who just love what we can do - and are thrilled to pay us lots of money! When in reality, many don't see the full value of our skills. Let's sell us better, and not over diagnose or over charge for our problem solving.


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