Just over a year ago, the U.S. Department of Energy (the Department) took on primary administration of the national Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program. In our first year, we embarked upon a process to evolve HPwES so that the Program could more easily facilitate the achievement of scale by the home performance industry.
We were pleased to receive over 650 comments on our proposal presented at the ACI conference in March. We've spent much of the summer and fall reviewing your input so we can develop an industry-informed path forward. As we come into the New Year, the Department plans to more formally present our analysis and action plan for 2013, so look for this information in forthcoming communications. We will continue to be transparent with our development process because we recognize that your role in your local market is the driver for HPwES success.
With this winter 2013 newsletter, there are a number of exciting initiatives, news stories, and other information that we are delighted to share with you. Our team is pleased to be working in support of so many robust and innovative local HPwES efforts around the country. We look forward to 2013 and continued success for the home performance industry.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Ely Jacobsohn, U.S. Dept. of Energy, HPwES Program Manager
Updated HPwES Website and New Online Program Tracking Dashboards
The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR website
is updated and features brand new content and design. The website is tailored to target our three main audiences—homeowners, contractors and Sponsors—and includes a spotlight on top performing Sponsors, creative approaches to marketing programs, data tracking dashboards, and information to help guide homeowners interested in energy efficiency upgrades to take action.
Check out our new program tracking dashboards, which offer a snapshot of overall HPwES activity nationally and region-by-region review of where HPwES projects are happening.
The website will continue to be updated to feature our Sponsors' work in their local communities and updates to the Program. Does your program have a success story to share? Please email email@example.com.
Looking Back to See the Future: Excerpt from Home Energy Article
Home Energy magazine featured an article on the history of home performance, the current state of the industry, and a look ahead at how the past may shape its future. Perspective from a variety of home performance industry trailblazers is included in this look back at how far home performance has come, and where the paths forward may lead.
Click here to read the full-length article.
Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity Forecasts Growth
As our country continues to recover from the recession, there are key indicators that show the economy is turning around. One key indicator is related to home remodeling. According to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) recently released in October 2012 by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, home improvement investments are expected to hit double-digit growth during the first half of 2013. The growth will likely be credited to the increase in home sales and housing starts, and record low interest rates for loans. Click here to read the report.
Xcel Energy Helps Bring Energy Efficiency to the Redevelopment of Foreclosed Homes in St. Paul, MN
Between 2008 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the City of Saint Paul over $31 million dollars to acquire, rehab, and sell vacant and foreclosed houses. Like many cities across the country, Saint Paul experienced a sharp increase in foreclosures between 2007 and 2009, with the number of foreclosed homes in the city reaching 5,978 at the end of the three-year period. The ongoing nationwide effort, called the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), was a direct and targeted response to the tragic impact of the foreclosure crisis. Additionally, the City of Saint Paul required that all subsidized single-family and duplex redevelopment projects participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.
According to Kurt Schultz, of the City of Saint Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development, the City of Saint Paul is committed to being a greener city overall and has taken many measures to accomplish this."We have approached this issue on a number of fronts including retrofitting many of our city-owned buildings. Residential properties are another part of the equation. The NSP program has helped us retrofit many foreclosed homes to a high standard before selling them to home buyers," says Schultz.
"By partnering with NEC and Xcel Energy, the City of Saint Paul is able to ensure that every NSP house will be energy efficient for years to come," said Cecile Bedor, Director of the Saint Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development. "And an energy efficient house is an affordable house, with lower utility bills month after month, year after year," she added.
The renovation process starts with an energy audit subsidized by Xcel Energy's Home Energy Audit program. The auditor determines air sealing needs by conducting a blower door test, identifies insulation levels in the entire building shell, and conducts combustion safety testing on space and water-heating equipment. Based on these findings, NEC writes a full scope of required upgrades that meets Xcel Energy's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program guidelines. The project manager then integrates the NEC energy scope into the full building remodeling scope.
"Quality assurance is key and because of Xcel Energy's Home Performance program, Saint Paul has set the bar right where it needs to be for energy improvements in publicly financed projects," said Chris Duffrin, NEC Executive Director.
To date, the City has completed work on 52 homes through the program and more than 110 additional properties have received energy audits and are headed toward redevelopment. Because of the partnership with NEC, the City of Saint Paul is taking these homes to the next level by ensuring they are Green Communities Certified. Proceeds from the sale of these properties will go toward further redevelopment; thereby extending the impact of Xcel Energy's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program to improve Saint Paul's housing stock. After all, heating efficiency in Minnesota's cold climate is important.
With the onset of winter weather, the opportunities for home performance contractors rise as the outdoor temperatures drop. Take advantage of the change to cooler weather by focusing your sales pitch on eliminating drafts and increasing comfort, as well as reducing heating costs. Experts agree that these items are high on the list of most homeowners' concerns and become more relevant as colder temperatures arrive.
Create new strategies to get the word out about the home performance services you provide, such as teaming up with a reliable HVAC contractor to provide mutual leads and referrals – this is a busy time of year for HVAC service calls and an excellent opportunity to cross-sell the benefits of energy efficient improvements. Another approach is to contact your satisfied customers from years past and encourage them to compose some positive feedback, including the increased comfort they've experienced and the decrease in their utility bills. Create a flier or brochure incorporating their comments and distribute it throughout that customer's neighborhood. Happy customer referrals are often your very best leads. Or partner with a local home improvement store, an insulation distributor, or a renewable energy installer, etc., to organize a home energy makeover contest in the communities you service.
Strategies in warmer southern climates may require more creativity. Winter is the season for home and garden shows, so be sure to get your message out by exhibiting at these events. Another strategy that can often result in positive leads is to approach new move-ins. Partnering with local real estate companies to include your home performance brochure in their welcome kits will be beneficial or establish a partnership with a local remodeler to provide them with expert consulting in energy efficient upgrades.
Determine your proven strategies and try some new ones to take advantage of all the opportunities that the change of seasons has to offer.
The HPwES team is looking for success stories to highlight on our recently updated website, in the quarterly stakeholder newsletter, and to send to DOE's communication team to highlight the work our Sponsors are doing in their local communities.
We are specifically looking for success stories related to your program, contractors or homeowners. If you think your program has newsworthy achievements, unique approaches, or replicable program implementation strategies, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject: Success Story. Your story could be selected to be highlighted in the Department's communication materials.
Just a friendly reminder, Quarter 4 2012 reports on HPwES project completions and QA inspections are due by January 31, 2013.
Additionally, as required by the Partnership Agreement for HPwES, Sponsors will be asked to submit a 2012 Annual Report. The Department is currently evaluating options to administer the Annual Report data collection with the intention of minimizing the administrative burden for responding. The annual report will cover the following elements:
Annual Summary of workforce recruitment, training, and development;
Annual Summary of quality assurance activities;
Annual Summary of marketing and outreach activities; and
CY 2013 Program Plans
The Department anticipates providing instructions to complete the 2012 Annual Report in early January 2013 and that final reports will be due in late January/early February 2013.
If you have questions, please contact your Account Manager.