Launched in 2014, the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is a repository for key lessons, resources and knowledge about the planning, operation and evaluation of residential energy-efficiency programs.
DOE is convening a focus group of Solution Center users this August to collect thoughts, opinions and experiences using it. This information will be used to guide improvements to the resources. Our goal is to make the Solution Center the primary online resource that residential energy-efficiency program administrators turn to for program implementation insights, solutions and ideas. This focus group is an excellent opportunity for power providers to share their insights on how to make the Solution Center a more effective tool for utility program managers.
The program is specifically seeking volunteers who:
Are aware of the Solution Center’s content and organization
Have used the Solution Center to look for something to help their program
Serve as a program administrator or are in a decision-making role for a residential energy-efficiency program
DOE plans to convene the focus group the week of August 15 via a conference call. The time commitment of participants will be approximately one hour. Energy Services is interested in hearing about WAPA customers’ experiences with the Solution Center as well. Contact the Energy Services Bulletin editor if you would like to share your story.
Keeping customer outreach programs fresh is a challenge for even the most customer-oriented utility. The Marketing and Outreach Handbook from the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Program recommends using in-home events to show customers the real-world benefits of energy-efficiency upgrades.
Unlike remodeling projects, the benefits of a home energy upgrade are generally not immediately visible to the casual observer. Strategies that demonstrate tangible benefits from upgrades can help customers understand the value of such projects and motivate them to invest in improvements.
Utility-sponsored house parties and demonstration homes help make energy efficiency real by showing potential customers what a home energy assessment or upgrade entails. In some cases, the hosts of these events were interested or satisfied customers—trusted marketing sources—who invited friends and neighbors to their homes. Utility program staff and contractors were typically on hand to walk the guests through an assessment of the house or to point out the efficiency measures in upgraded homes, and to answer any questions.
The handbook offers case studies of successful home tour programs across the United States. A few proven practices that make upgrade benefits visible include:
Show how assessments work Energy Impact Illinois used “house parties” to build momentum for energy assessments and upgrades. Trusted neighbors hosted contractors who showed guests where energy was being wasted and explained ways to improve comfort while saving energy.
Hold house tours New Orleans, Louisiana Worthwhile Investments Save Energy gave open house tours in the upgraded homes of happy clients. Signs highlighting completed work were posted throughout the house, and the upgrade contractor was present to talk about the associated energy savings. These showcase events produced high-quality leads who were likely to undertake projects.
Invite the whole neighborhood ShopSmart with JEA,a Florida utility rebate program, threw a Home Energy Makeover: Block Party to raise community awareness about its rebate opportunities. Homeowners who had received home energy assessments from a local energy professional hosted block parties for their neighbors. The energy professional reviewed the assessment and upgrade process, discussed rebate options and answered questions from friends and neighbors who attended.
Make efficiency personal The California Center for Sustainable Energyprovided demonstration tours in homes that completed upgrades in Chula Vista, California. Potential customers could learn about their neighbors’ experiences, ask questions of the home performance professionals who installed the upgrades and sign up for an energy assessment of their own home for less than $50.
Start here for success You will find more residential energy-efficiency outreach tips, step-by-step instructions and program examples in Marketing & Outreach – Develop Implementation Plans to jump-start your outreach program. If you haven’t used the Better Building Residential Program Solution Center, take a tour through its resources for key lessons and best practices drawn from the experience of utilities, energy organizations and their partners.