The Redboxification of Home Performance

Thanks to Redbox for including me in a great Earth Week panel on Innovation, Entrepreneurism and Green Business.  Nearly 150 employees showed up to learn about new ideas, and striking a balance between running a business and looking out for the Earth.

One of the reasons I love to get out and work with groups is that I usually end up learning as much as I teach!  Yesterday was no exception.  In fact, as a result I think I invented the term “Redboxification” (I claimed it in the middle of lunch and no one stopped me so I’m going to run with it!).  And no industry needs Redboxification more than Home Performance!

What is Redboxification?

Redbox has reshaped the DVD rental market since it was founded in 2002, surpassing rival Blockbuster in volume in a mere five years.  In fact just while I was onsite, Redbox rented about 20,000 videos.  (A ticker counts throughout the day and projects the running total on the floor of the reception lobby!)  They are famous for their red rental kiosks at the entrance of grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail locations.

Redboxification is a measure of making something so seamless with the consumer experience, and making it easy and engaging.

What does this mean for home performance?

The last question for the panel was the best one:  “If I have 15 minutes to spend, what can I do to make a difference in energy efficiency?”

This is what Redbox gets that Home Performance does not.  We’ve reached the early adopters of home performance.  To reach the masses we have to understand consumers like Redbox does.  Don’t add one extra errand for me.  Don’t make it too complicated.  Get me started quickly.  And give me immediate, fun gratification that tells me I’ve accomplished something – and motivates me to come back for more.

Sure, whole home performance and building science are a lot bigger than a red kiosk.  The meat and potatoes of home performance could never be Redboxed.  But couldn’t the first steps into home performance be a lot more engaging?  Couldn’t we make this a part of how home owners maintain and love their homes instead of an add-on process?  Couldn’t we find a way to get immediate satisfaction out of a 15 minute start?

There is no better measure of Redboxification than a measure of leads to conversions.  (Think of that running ticker on their lobby floor.)  And if your ratio is looking bad, maybe it’s that you’re asking too much of the consumer – Are they hearing all or nothing…and doing nothing?

As a Realtor, my success measure for the Home Performance industry is how many homes can say they’ve passed a threshold of improved home performance (let’s say 20%) and have earned some sort of documentation that proves it.  That documentation gives me something to promote one that home comes up for resale.  But I don’t think it’s an all or nothing proposition.  It’s about the getting there. And like Redbox the secret might be in getting consumers to come back for a little more each time.

Home Performance is all about loving our homes.  Redbox turns the video rental proposition on its head – Why force the consumer to add an extra errand when you can make it simple and engaging to accomplish two errands at once?  Redboxification of home performance is about finding those spots where home owners are already loving their homes, and helping them accomplish the goal of energy efficiency at the same time.  The typical energy audit report is organized around low-, med- or high-investment projects or by system type.  Why couldn’t it be organized around levels of loving your home instead?  For example – maybe solutions more like:

  • Weekend Warriors:  The 10 most common home comfort perpetrators and how to blast them from your home.
  • Martial Spats:  Three projects that balance comfort and kill thermostat wars.
  • Redecorating:  Projects that are simple to add when a little dust is already flying.
  • Replacement:  NAR’s Cost vs. Value report finds that replacement projects (like windows and siding) add more value every year than remodeling projects (like updating a kitchen or turning an attic into a bedroom).  What are the no-brainer add-ons to achieve the real efficiency out of replaced systems?
  • Remodeling:  What are the projects you’ll kick yourself for later because they are so much easier and cheaper to do when other projects are already underway and walls and cavities are most easily accessible?

My guess is that by the time a consumer takes a second step, they are loving their home’s improved performance, and will take that bigger commitment towards a 20% improvement.

Reprinted with permission by Laura Reedy Stukel.  Original article online at


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Tags: market, transformation


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Comment by John Erickson, Jr on May 14, 2012 at 12:31pm

I really like this! Gives you a way to find common ground. Also I find with Home Performance Subsidy and Loan incentives we ask the home owner to fill out a lot of applications and red tape giving the excitement too much time to cool down. However, if you LOVE your home in such a way it will never leave your mind. Nice Article

Comment by Laura Reedy Stukel on May 13, 2012 at 8:57pm

we must take on the role of educator

are you going to guarantee to solve their problem

Amen!  Thanks for the tip. I will definitely look into your book.  All th best! 

Comment by Joe Gorman on May 13, 2012 at 8:03pm

Well Laura,  Seeing the constant confusion and blank faces when speaking with homeowners about replacing their furnaces and air conditioners, I decided to help them out by writing a book called "From Contractor to Consumer the Truth about Heating, Air Conditioning, and Home Comfort Systems".  The book is about how furnaces, air conditioners, and Duct systems go together to form a home comfort system.  It is written in simple easy to understand language that anyone can understand, and touches on Manual J load calculations, proper maintenance, how to choose a contractor, ROI, and basic operation so they can make better decisions when it comes down to replacing the most expensive appliance in their home.  I do not talk about home performance, but may soon write another book, again with simple explanations, on this subject.  For those of you interested, it is available online at Barnes and Noble, amazon, and signed copies at  The things we do for a living are very complicated, and in order to get the message across to our potential clients, we must take on the role of educator.  We must find a way to get the message across so that anyone can understand what we are talking about.  Leave out the big words, the competition bashing, and the so confusing they turn blue in the face explanations.  All our clients really want to know is how much is it going to cost, and are you going guarantee to solve their problem.

Comment by Laura Reedy Stukel on May 13, 2012 at 7:16pm

Thanks Joe.  I agree. Every house is different.  So not encouraging a  boxed approach - but more meeting consumers where they are already at to make a first step more engaging.  How do we help consumers understand that the basic requirements for a "well-maintained" home isn't about just replacing old systems anymore?

Comment by Joe Gorman on May 13, 2012 at 1:50am

The HVAC industry is completely messed up because of "Boxchangeification" which has led consumers to believe that all air conditioners operate perfectly and efficiently once installed and attached to their old duct system, which couldn't be farther from the truth.  Every house is different, why on earth would we want to "boxify" home performance

Comment by Bob Blanchette on May 11, 2012 at 6:13pm

Getting participation from utility companies for widespread acceptance is essential IMHO. Once a local utility "takes the ball" things rapidly expand. For instance in our area OG&E is offering "smarthours" which is basically a load shifting program. It costs the consumer nothing to join, and OG&E will even install a free programmable thermostat for them. A lot of thermostats currently in service are old and/or inaccurate. Changing the way power is BILLED and ultimately lowering the consumers COST is the goal here. Isn't lowering consumers utility bills w/o sacrificing comfort the ultimate goal? So far 9,000+ people have signed up, the "redbox" of energy cost reduction if you will.

OGE: SmartHours

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