In-home events jump-start outreach, says DOE Better Buildings program

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.InHomeProvenPractices

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, You are leaving Western's site. 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 Energy You are leaving Western's site. provided 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.

Source: DOE Better Buildings Program, 8/25/15

New program offers loans for residential energy-efficiency, renewable improvements

Utilities with residential customers who need help financing whole-house improvements or renewable energy systems should explore the PowerSaver Loan Program Redirecting to a non-government site.  The Electric and Gas Industries Association Redirecting to a non-government site (EGIA) has teamed up with Sun West Mortgage Company to create this Federal Housing Administration-sponsored financing program. 

Qualified homeowners may borrow up to $25,000 for energy-efficient and renewable energy improvements to their primary residence.  The allowable improvements include installing insulation, duct sealing, replacing doors and windows, central heating and cooling systems, water heaters, solar panels, energy-efficient roofing and ground-source heat pumps. Coupled with competitive interest rates, PowerSaver offers finance terms of up to 15 years for qualified energy-efficiency home improvements and up to 20 years for renewable energy improvements.  

These competitive interest rate loans are offered through pre-screened EGIA GEOSmart authorized contractors to eligible homeowners at no cost to the contractors. Learn about the requirements Redirecting to a non-government site for becoming a PowerSaver contractor.  

Sun West is now accepting applications Redirecting to a non-government site for California homes, and is expanding PowerSaver to Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah on July 1 as part of its nationwide rollout concluding over the next few months.