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Program Policy Changes on the Horizon

In early June, local HPwES Program Sponsors and other stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on proposed policy changes to the National Program, specifically:

  • A set of minimum requirements for a HPwES Comprehensive Home Assessment;
  • A standard template for a HPwES Certificate of Completion;
  • Revised Quality Assurance requirements; and
  • Revised partner reporting requirements.

As a reminder, comments on these proposed changes are due to the National program by July 30th, 2007. Comments can be submitted to hoffmeyer.dale@epa.gov. All submitted comments will be posted (with permission) on the ENERGY STAR Web site at www.energystar.gov/hpwessponsors.

On-Line Search Proving to be a Great Tool for Generating Leads

The online medium is becoming one of the most popular and cost-effective methods for reaching consumers.  And within this medium, ‘On-Line Search’ can be one of the most effective ways to enhance marketing efforts because it reaches highly-engaged consumers when they are in the ‘information search and gather’ stage of decision-making.

Opportunities to capitalize on On-Line Search include ‘Search Engine Optimization’ (or SEO), where your web site content, design, and architecture are enhanced to obtain top search engine positioning through unpaid searches; and Sponsored (or Paid) Search, where you bid on and pay for top listings when a user searches for specific key words or phrases. Search can be conducted in specific geographical areas, making it extremely targeted and cost-effective.

The National program has piloted the use of On-Line Search in a limited number of HPwES markets with great success.  In one case, the Search Campaign increased Web traffic by 420% and resulted in over 500 visitors clicking through to a ‘Find A Contractor’ web form to request more information about Home Performance with ENERGY STAR.

Interested in On-Line Search and want more information?  Contact passe.jonathan@epa.gov.

Sales Training Sessions Available

The National Program has conducted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Sales Training for contractors in several markets. The Sales Training sessions provide participating contractors with successful strategies for selling Home Performance to homeowners, including:

  • Lead qualification screening tools and telephone interview checklists
  • In-home interview guidance
  • Sample in-home presentation format to build rapport and credibility
  • Suggested preliminary pre-assessment house “walk-through” tactics
  • Processes for selling the customer on doing a Comprehensive Home Assessment
  • Closing techniques and countering objections

Interested in having Sales Training for contractors in your market?  Contact vonschrader.chandler@epa.gov.

Technical Corner:  DeltaQ - A Better Way to Test Ducts

A key part of many Home Performance with ENERGY STAR projects is to make sure that the ducts don’t leak.  However, the cost in time and effort to test ducts has been a significant barrier to widespread testing.

The DeltaQ test was developed by the Department of Energy, in collaboration with other researchers, contractors, and test equipment manufacturers, to come up with a simpler and faster test that would also give better estimates of the duct leakage. DeltaQ uses traditional blower door techniques that have been around for many years in weatherization and home energy ratings to find out how leaky houses are – but the test is done twice: once with the furnace/air conditioning fan on; and another with the unit off. The difference between the two tests is used to determine the duct leakage. 

The key advantages of using DeltaQ are:

  • Saving time – because contractors can measure house leakage at the same time as duct leakage - killing two birds with one stone
  • Saving effort - contractors do not have to find and cover all the registers in the house (a key issue for home energy raters is that they dislike having to move furniture to do duct leakage testing);
  • Measuring duct leakage to outside (which is what you want to calculate energy savings); and
  • Using equipment (namely, a blower door) that many contractors already have. 

Software to automate the testing will soon be available from blower door manufacturers that will further simplify the testing.  For more information contact iainwalker@lbl.gov.

Contractor Spotlight:  GreenHomes America

GreenHomes America launched its Home Performance Contracting (HPC) business based on the science of home performance and has so far helped more than 10,000 New York families to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of their homes. Building on its success in New York State, GreenHomes plans to expand its organization, through strategic acquisitions and a franchise network, nationwide.

With the HPC approach, GreenHomes home energy advisers – certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) – use diagnostics to perform comprehensive home comfort and energy assessments for customers. The home energy advisers thoroughly inspect and test all components of the home, collect and analyze the data, and provide a detailed report that illustrates the home’s condition and calculates energy use. The report also recommends a choice of customized improvements designed to identify the root source of home performance problems and solve those problems permanently while reducing energy use.

Beyond the principles of HPC, the GreenHomes business model also employs a methodology built on strict adherence to quality, process, technology, education, and standards. This methodology enables GreenHomes to deliver best-practice service on every job. The methodology also allows personnel to be equipped with the state-of-the-art training, technology, and tools. Moreover, GreenHomes provides its customers with exceptional energy savings guarantees; the company guarantees at least a 25% energy savings or pays the customer double the difference for two years.


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