"As an HVAC contractor, I had lots of very happy customers but never happy enough to write me three and four page letters telling me that I have changed their lives.... They tell us they can't believe they are living in the same home."
– Hal Smith, president of Halco
Awards: 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award for innovations in Market Leadership, Energy Savings, and Sales & Marketing and 2012 Century Club Award
Total Reported Projects in 2013: 277
Halco provides HVAC services in New York's Finger Lakes region, an area home to mostly 100 to 200 year old houses. Issues related to comfort are common. Halco began to realize that old or inefficient HVAC systems were only part of what was causing homes to be cold and drafty. Hal Smith, president of Halco explains, "As we were introduced to the whole home as a system concept, we quickly realized that as a typical HVAC contractor we were operating with blinders on. We were passing right by the things that were crucial to the comfort and energy savings of our customers."
In 2007 Halco joined the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) local Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program and started to offer homeowners comprehensive solutions, such as sealing leaks and adding insulation. Homeowners are often unaware of Halco's home performance services when they call for heating and air conditioning estimates. After explaining to homeowners the benefit of performing energy assessments before starting work, Halco says customers rarely look any further. After homeowners' energy improvement projects are completed, they often cannot believe the difference they feel in their homes. "As an HVAC contractor, I had lots of very happy customers but never happy enough to write me three and four page letters telling me that I have changed their lives," Smith says. "We have elderly customers that have always been uncomfortable in their old drafty homes. They tell us they can't believe they are living in the same home."
Fixing customers' heating and cooling systems is just part of the solution for making homes comfortable, safe and durable. All Home Performance with ENERGY STAR participating contractors are equipped with specialized training and diagnostic tools to determine energy issues. Like all participating contractors, Halco contractors perform blower doors tests during the energy assessment. Other common tests include evaluating levels of insulation, looking for signs of moisture control issues, such as excessive mold and mildew, and using an infrared camera to find trouble spots in walls and ceilings. Contractors can then begin to create a work scope that incorporates whole house measures to make homes safer, more comfortable and energy efficient.
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is a valuable partnership for Halco. Since joining the program, the business has grown by 25% each year. The company believes its home performance services are what set it apart from competitors and help keep business steady. Smith notes, "We no longer need to depend on the weather as we did as an HVAC contractor. We keep consistently busy year round."