In this issue:


A Letter to our HPwES Stakeholders

Maybe it’s because it’s the holiday season, because we’re ending another successful year in Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES), or maybe it’s because a lot of my favorite treats start showing up this time of year, but I’m in a good mood.  From my vantage point of the home performance landscape, it is obvious our industry is advancing and growing.  Many contractors are busier than ever.  Several are trying radically new business strategies looking at depth vs. breadth.  Some programs are growing through better incentive strategies while others are looking at how to grow with no incentives.  More and more software developers and programs are looking at HPXML and figuring out what to do with this shiny box. (Hint: Use it!)  It seems like wherever you look or whomever you talk to, really good and important work is happening, all with the same goal: advancing home performance. 

We at the national HPwES Program have important work to do in 2014 to contribute to the goal of advancing home performance, including:

  • Launch Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Sponsor Guide and Reference Manual (v1.5) 
  • Hold the HPwES Symposium to broadly share ideas and discuss innovations
  • Engage a new HPwES Work Group to collaborate to evolve home performance
  • Collaborate with Sponsors & Contractors to test new strategies and investigate successful tactics in delivering and valuing HPwES

As we get ready to turn our calendars to 2014, the HPwES Team is ready to work with you on growing and improving the market for home performance. In this coming year, you can expect the HPwES Team to be focused on fostering bonds among and between the different stakeholder groups that make up our industry.  It is because of the unique position of HPwES that we can offer support and nurture relationships that will advance home performance and promote market support for residential clean energy.

Here is to wishing you a wonderful holiday season and many successes in the new year!

Ely Jacobsohn
U.S. Department of Energy
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program Manager

Back to top

Save the Date! HPwES Symposium, Monday, April 28, 2014- Detroit, MI

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) Team is renewing efforts to gather the home performance community together for a one-day  HPwES Symposium. The Symposium will be hosted in Detroit, Mich., on Monday, April 28, 2014, in conjunction with the 2014 ACI National Home Performance conference. It will provide a venue to interact with and inform home performance stakeholders on topics covering the status and future plans of HPwES, the current state of the home performance market and how HPwES can help drive growth.  We will discuss topics important to the advancement of HPwES:

  • Speaking Customers’ Languages:  Recognition strategies
  • Speaking Contractors’ Languages:  Delivery models
  • Building a Broader Audience:  The case for big data
  • Keeping it Real:  Quality Assurance

Registration information and detailed agenda are forthcoming.  Save the date to your calendar and stay tuned!

Back to top


Recognition and Labeling Effort Underway to Identify Value of Energy Performance Documentation

Many Sponsors and home performance stakeholders are utilizing certificates to document home improvement and performance levels in existing homes. In an effort to better understand the implementation of and results from using certificates, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) is collaborating with Sponsors to explore lessons learned. The research effort will result in a publication that aims to:

  • Gain knowledge on technical requirements, market opportunities and impediments, and deployment paths
  • Identify recognition methods with the greatest potential to support scalability and increase program impact
  • Understand potential future benefits (e.g. energy, financial, etc.) of recognition methods

Results are expected to be published in summer 2014. If you are interested in learning more about this effort, please email homeperformance@energystar.gov.

Back to top

Expanding Homeowner Options for Choosing the Whole-House Approach

In a unique approach to program delivery, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) Sponsor Kentucky Home Performance (KHP) is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on an initiative to create opportunities for trade contractors and broader participation in HPwES. Starting in 2014, KHP will offer local homeowners seeking single-measure improvements the option to obtain HPwES-level services. The single-measure services will include a building science-based whole-house assessment and test-in/test-out performance verification for improvements. The goal is to promote the whole-house approach and set homeowners on a comprehensive improvement path, even if improvements will be performed incrementally. KHP’s initial focus is on the HVAC contractor network with the vision that a single-measure model could be expanded to other trades. Working with Sponsors and trade communities, DOE’s vision is to ultimately offer a broad base of potential entry points or even a staged-upgrade approach for homeowners who might not be aware of the advantages of HPwES approach.

As part of the pilot, KHP will offer specialized contractor training and expedited home evaluation protocols that will enable tracking and documentation of energy savings achieved through single-measure installations. Training will be supported by the Kentucky Community Technical College and participating contractors will record data on a tablet-based tool provided by the program. KHP is also partnering with AFC First to offer low interest loans to homeowners completing comprehensive HVAC installations under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s PowerSaver or NASEO’s Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans (WHEEL) initiatives. The loan options are designed to make KHP the optimal financing mechanism for participating contractors and customers in need of long-term fixed-rate financing for energy efficiency improvements.

For more information, contact Jason Bogovich.

Back to top

Kicking off an Industry Work Group to Support Home Performance with ENERGY STAR

In support of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) interest in advancing Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES), SRA International, Inc. will convene a representative group of HPwES stakeholders to advance initiatives towards the v2.0 vision of improved scalability and, ultimately, transformation of the home performance services market.

SRA is currently forming the working group, which will be relatively small—10 to 15 members—to stay focused and nimble. The group will be comprised of representatives from HPwES Sponsors, implementation contractors, home performance contractors, trade associations, and manufacturers.  After a kick-off meeting in January, the HPwES Work Group members will provide input on efforts related to:

  • Demonstrating the Quality Management System (QMS) approach
  • Enhancing delivery models, exploring incorporation of new market players and pathways for incremental & multiple measures
  • Improving data collection and analytical models
  • Recognition/labeling strategies using the HPwES mark

Results will be made publically available to the home performance community and the HPwES Symposium will be an opportunity for interested participants to engage in the work group topics.

For more information, contact Caroline Hazard.

Back to top

2013 Annual Report Data Call Template Revealed

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) Team unveiled the 2013 Annual Report Data Call template during a webinar on Wednesday, Dec. 11. During the webinar Sponsors were introduced to the updated data collection template and analysis plans for 2013 program data. The webinar recording will be posted on the Sponsor Resources webpage.

Don’t forget—Quarter 4 reports are due January 31, 2014. 2013 Annual Reports are due February 15, 2014. Contact your Account Manager with questions.

Back to top

Where Does All the Data Go?

If Sponsors ever wonder what the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) Team does with the interesting program data, check out the revamped Project Dashboards. The updated dashboards include more granular program data, as well as regional production and participation numbers.

Email homeperformance@energystar.gov to let us know what you think and be sure to check back early next year to see how 2013 shaped up for the Sponsors.

Back to top

We Are Talking About You!

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) is telling our story to homeowners and stakeholders nationwide. We are telling homeowners about the great work local Sponsors are doing to make energy efficiency improvements possible in their communities, as well as sharing tips for saving energy. Check out the EnergySaver’s Weatherization Week blog post that featured HPwES.

We want to share your story! Keep your Account Manager informed of program milestones and innovative approaches to offering home performance. “Like” the U.S. Department of Energy’s EERE Facebook page for the latest news and posts—Sponsors may even see their names in print!

Back to top

NEWS FROM DOE'S BUILDING TECHNOLOGY OFFICE PROGRAMS

Home Energy Score to Release Updated Scoring Tool—Join a Webinar to Learn More!

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Home Energy Score program is set to release its first major update to the Home Energy Scoring Tool in December 2013. After more than a year of implementation and feedback from Partners, DOE made significant improvements to the Scoring Tool’s calculation methodology, user interface, and its ability to motivate homeowner investment in energy improvements.

Join a webinar on Tuesday, January 14, at noon EST to learn about the updates and to find out how utilities, states and local governments, and others can use the Scoring Tool to support residential energy efficiency goals. Organizations can join more than 25 Partners and 175 Qualified Assessors nationwide who offer the Home Energy Score. More than 8,000 homes have been scored since 2012 and DOE expects that number to increase significantly with the release of the updated Scoring Tool. Register for the webinar today!

Interested in learning more about the Home Energy Score program or becoming a Partner? Email homeenergyscore@ee.doe.gov or visit homeenergyscore.gov.

Back to top

Making Connections to Accelerate the Pace of Energy Upgrades in American homes: The Better Buildings Residential Network seeks members

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Better Buildings Residential Network is connecting energy efficiency programs and partners to share best practices and learn from one another in an effort to dramatically increase the number of American homes that are energy efficient. To date, more than 2,000 participants have connected on 75 collaborative phone calls featuring topics such combining energy efficiency and health services and working with municipal utilities.

Join the network today to receive access to program resources, invitations to monthly calls and to learn more about the Better Building Residential Program Solution Center!

Email bbresidentialnetwork@ee.doe.gov for more information.

Back to top

NEWS FROM HPwES SPONSORS

NYSERDA Enhances HPwES Participant Experience by Utilizing HPXML–Compliant Modeling Tool

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA’s) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program participants (i.e. program managers, participating contractors and homeowners) can access project data and track progress through an online portal, the New York Home Performance Portal. The online tool aims to increase customer satisfaction, improve the contractor experience and accelerate completion of energy efficiency projects. It is capable of seamlessly receiving data from any HPXML-compliant energy modeling tool approved for use in the home performance program.

The New York Home Performance Portal, currently in pilot phase, is the result of collaboration between implementation contractor, Conservation Services Group, and software company, EnergySavvy. Read the press release to learn more.

Back to top

Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund's Data Dashboards Offer Insight into Energy Efficiency Efforts

EnergizeCT Home Performance with ENERGY STAR offers stakeholders transparent access to its program data via its online data dashboard that launched in 2012. The data dashboard includes a Home Energy Solutions (HES) Activity Report used to measure program success in upgrade completions. Upgrades considered include insulation, ENERGY STAR appliances, and high efficiency HVAC, hot water heaters, and windows. The report uses a cohort methodology for grouping the customer projects and associated recommended upgrades by month (year to date) to their actual completed upgrades, to calculate and track the upgrade success rate. “The HES Activity Report, via the dashboard, is the program’s ‘go to’ report to measure the implementation success of program design modifications,” says Diane Del Rosso, Program Administrator at Northeast Utilities.

The HES Activity Report is distributed to the home performance program’s oversight committee, the Energy Efficiency Board’s residential subcommittee and its consultants, in addition to now being available on the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Dashboard. The dashboard is used as both a reporting and analysis tool for the Energy Efficiency Board's review of the EnergizeCT programs.

Go online to learn more. Happy data surfing!

Back to top

KY Home Performance Wins Program Excellence Award

The National Council of State Housing Agencies recognized the Kentucky Housing Corporation’s KY Home Performance (KHP) Program with a Program Excellence award. KHP was honored for creating a statewide, market-rate program for homeowners to make energy-efficiency repairs to their homes. “Initiated as an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act-funded program, KHP has played a crucial role in residential energy consumption reduction, as well as created many jobs and a sustainable home performance industry in the state,” said KHP Program Manager Andrew Isaacs.

Read the press release to learn more.

Back to top

Customer Service Matters

Customer service is important to any business and good customer service is often what sets competing businesses apart, particularly in small business where each and every customer is important. In today’s social media driven society, consumers have the power to tarnish companies’ reputations by posting experiences online or submitting negative reviews on customer review websites. For small businesses, even a couple of negative reviews can have exponential consequences. Keeping customers satisfied is critical to successfully growing a small business.

Providing exemplary customer service is simple and goes a long way to make businesses more successful. By incorporating a few customer service protocols into everyday business practices, significant differences in customer experience can be achieved.   

  • Be prompt. Respond to customers' inquiries promptly—ideally the same day—using the same contact medium the customer used, unless otherwise specified by the customer. This means returning a phone call with a phone call and an email with an email. If it involves a potential sale, the quicker a business responds, the better chance of making the sale. Show up on time for customer appointments and call ahead if your timeframe changes.
  • Communicate clearly and courteously when speaking and writing to customers. Avoid using trade jargon. Be professional and impress upon customers home performance knowledge and experience. The manner in which contractors conduct business should instill confidence in customers and assure them that employing home performance services is in their best interest.
  • Make it easy for customers to find your business and get in touch. Be sure websites are clear, concise, and contact information is easy to find. Think of your website as your storefront where customers can shop for services.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Customers rely on contractors’ professional judgment—not being able to follow through with promises can equate to deception or lack of judgment.
  • Respond quickly to customer issues. If it’s a work-related problem, keep in mind customers want their concerns to be acknowledged. In cases where you are not able to provide an immediate answer, acknowledge the issue, let them know you’re working on a resolution and will be back in touch shortly. Be diplomatic and courteous, and try to diffuse the situation by offering something additional to the customer beyond the established scope of work. Make sure your workers or subcontractors are properly trained and informed as to what you expect of them. Monitor performances to ensure projects are executed to the highest company standards and are in the best interest of customers.
  • Make customer feel appreciated. Show your customers that you value their business by caring about their satisfaction with their investment in services. Follow up with a quick call, email or postcard in the mail, or offer an incentive for providing online customer reviews. A simple thank you has the power to make that homeowner a lifelong customer. It’s a win-win situation.

How does your company focus on customer service? Email homeperformance@energystar.gov to share your story.

Back to top
The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Team
www.energystar.gov/hpwes
EERE logo


Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Home Performance Events: