When I earned the BPI Building Analyst Certification in 2009 while attending Cincinnati State Community College, I knew that I had found a new career path. I farmed employment opportunities related to the certification at local HVAC and Insulation companies and found that my certification was worthless. I had to go back to the drawing board. Still enthusiastic about the potential for that path I learned everything I could about Home Performance Contracting. Fortunately a friend fresh out of school whose major was graphic arts was just itching to build his first website. I worked in a couple of quarters of basic business classes and wrote a business plan based on the Green Homes America home performance contracting business model. Leveraging personal relationships for financing during a time when banks were not lending money, I purchased a full set of audit equipment and an insulation blower and box truck set up. With a logo and and website in place thanks to my graphic artist friend, I threw up my shingle and started hitting the trade shows. I also took advantage of Twitter which was coming into its own at the same time. After a few trade shows and lots of guerrilla marketing we landed several energy audits but got no takers for the upgrades we recommended. In the meantime through Twitter and Cincinnati State I met Andy Holzhauser who was in the process of forming the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance This was a grant program that originally gathered a million dollars from 7 local municipalities to incentivize residential energy audits and retrofits.. They eventually got a 17 million dollar ARRA fund grant to do the same thing on a larger scale. Andy was looking for companies with BPI certified professionals delivering the “house as a system” or “whole house” retrofit approach to participate in the original grant program. My new company Cincinnati Energy Solutions was the only one in our region. This relationship lead to a little bit of press. Thanks to the grant money and some Duke Energy rebates we also had our first retrofit taker. Although it was trial by fire for us it resulted in rave reviews, “I am very pleased with the work I had done on my old house (the core of the house being 120 years old) and could not be happier with the end results-saving money and saving energy.I had multiple phases of work done. Phase 1: Insulation of the exterior walls. Insulation was injected (from the outside) into the walls. I had this done in February which, in hindsight, was the worst month weather-wise to do something like this but results were felt immediately.Phase 2 was done a few months later. I had a new high efficiency furnace installed, the ductwork was improved and redirected and insulated. I had 13″ of insulation blown into the attic and lots of spray foam applied.There were many surprises during the second phase: unexpected knob and tube wiring, gaping holes hidden in the walls, a hidden chimney, and a small crawl space. But Jeremy and crew stuck to the original bid.Bottom line: my Duke Energy bill dropped over $100 per month “. From there Cincinnati Energy Solutions took off. During the four years we participated in the grant program I gained quite a bit of experience in energy modelling,residential HVAC design,web marketing and home energy retrofit installation. I sat at over 800 tables with homeowners and got a first hand understanding of what they really valued.
I never had to worry much about getting the lead or the sale, the grant money always took care of that. It wasn’t until the last year of the grant, when the money was scaled back significantly, that I figured out how to really sell the benefits of home performance and use web based marketing to get leads. I began to realize that without the grant money the HVAC industry had something which the Home Performance Industry did not; A natural trust relationship with the community. HVAC contractors are who people call when they have comfort issues, energy related concerns or indoor air quality issues. In the Home Performance Contracting World there is a lot of bad press about the HVAC contractors “who are just out to take the poor homeowners money “, as well as a strong misconception that the public in general is seeking something different or better. That is false. Regardless of how much anyone forecast savings, measures results and verifies predicted savings, the HVAC contractors phones will continue to ring with customers who have the very problems the guys who measure and verify everything are salivating to solve.
Recognizing that there would NOT likely be a “big shift” in consumer confidence away from HVAC Contractors toward Home Performance Contractors,in 2013 I sold most of Cincinnati Energy Solutions assets to National Heating and Air Conditioning Company and joined them to integrate Home Performance delivery into their existing successful HVAC business model. This includes working with their sister company American Air Balance,where I’ve gained valuable knowledge of the commercial Test and Balance (TAB) world. Particularly through this experience I’ve learned to incorporate something very lacking in the home performance contracting world, how air moves around and how it relates to building efficiencies.
I still believe in the Home Performance Industry. I now realize that any chance the Home Performance Industry has to scale depends on its adoption as a best practice in the HVAC delivery process.
This blog will be dedicated to educating the HVAC industry on the value of High Performance Whole House measures as an integrated business practice. Here you will also find articles for both the Home Performance and HVAC industry that are intended to be informative as to creating in Home sales using the whole home concept.