Making the Energy Audit Case, Making the Energy Retrofit Sale
editor's note: This article appeared on d5R in April. We're republishing it in anticipation of our free webinar with Scott Pusey next Tuesday, July 19. Space is limited; click here to reserve your spot.
Home-energy audits take place by the thousands each month in the U.S., but the percentage of them that result in professional retrofit work is minimal at best. Hence the biggest weakness and opportunity alike of this fast-growing field, according to building analyst Scott Pusey (right) of Everyday Green, which performs energy audits and modeling, plan review, and building science consulting and training throughout the MidAtlantic.
"Testing and reporting don't save any money," said Pusey in a presentation at a spring workshop sponsored by T.W. Perry, a major D.C.-area lumberyard. A good audit report, however, "will make the case for the homeowner to take action by addressing their specific concerns."
Here's an overview of some Pusey's key points regarding making the case -- and thus the sale -- for moving homeowners from point A (having the audit done) to point B (hiring a contractor or contractors to make the recommended changes).
Make It Meaty
At a minimum, Pusey said, embark on a thorough approach that stands in stark comparison to the short "walk-through" audits, typically sponsored by utility companies or community groups, that focus on such low-hanging fruit as lightbulbs, weather stripping and visible attic and basement insulation.
By comparison, he said, "Take the time to do it right. Make it a meaty report that tells the story of the house."
His company's audits typically involve an analysis of 13 months of utility bills, along with a four-hour, full diagnostic inspection that includes blower door testing, insulation analysis, combustion safety and efficiency testing, distribution system analysis and, in some cases, infrared scan.
Homeowners pay $600 to $800 and receive a detailed written report that reveals how they truly use energy, including family behavior.
[image copyright: Copyright: Conservation Choices]
Besides addressing the homeowner's specific concerns about comfort, air quality, etc., the report:
- Itemizes the health and safety items that should be addressed before implementing energy-conservation measures.
- Clearly lays out prioritized recommendations that can cure "the disease."
- Includes ballpark payments for improvements in terms of years.
- Includes full-size color photos to help tell the story.
Modeling is a key component of Everyday Green's audit reports, Pusey said. "The audit sets a baseline for where the home is," he explained. "Modeling sets target for where it could be," by presenting multiple scenarios based on actions taken -- e.g., different methods and locations of insulation and air-sealing, replacing various appliances and, for what is typically the lowest and slowest return on investment, replacing windows.
Learn more about Everyday Green at www.everydaygreendc.com.