Hard Truths of Home Performance
Residential energy retrofit work isn’t cost-effective
If you've been reading my blogs, you know that I have learned some hard truths. You read the warts-and-all implosion story of my Century Club company in How an Efficiency Program Killed My Business.
I’ve been spending a lot of time prepping you, my reader, for the One Knob program design. Otherwise the design will be too scary, too big of an idea, and too foreign of a concept for you to follow and embrace. Hopefully I can save you some pain and give these truths to you the easy way: from my experience. Some of that was already discussed in Designing a ‘One Knob’ Incentive Program and in The ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Fallacy.
These ridiculously painful experiences have taught me a lot. And I’ve come to see a number of truths that are counterintuitive and somewhat contrary to the thinking of much of the industry. I view them as truths that we will all arrive at in time.
Before giving the executive summary of the proposed One Knob program, there are some hard truths we must acknowledge.
Here is my list of hard truths:
- Energy efficiency programs are failing. Job counts and realization rates are abysmal. They are not experiencing the necessary meteoric growth for market transformation.
- Programs need to be cost-effective with public funds. Conversely, programs shouldn’t have the audacity to think they can dictate to homeowners how to spend theirs.
- Homeowners will spend money to improve their homes without false promises of riches. Saying projects “help” pay for themselves leads to larger projects. Saying projects “will” pay for themselves is a credibility killer.
- Every home is different: the problems are different and the homeowners’ situations are different. Therefore solutions must be custom-tailored.
- Grabbing low-hanging fruit takes a once-in-15-years opportunity and squanders it. Selling a quick-buck small project with overblown savings is a tremendous wasted opportunity.
- Until we have adequate control of heat, air, and moisture flows in a home, it is really difficult to deliver true solutions to homeowners.
- Custom-tailored solutions take good diagnostics and measurement, good understanding of homeowner objectives and budget, plus trust.
- Trust takes time to build. One-call solutions are one-night stands that usually lead to harm. It is a wasted opportunity to mobilize all these resources and not optimize projects for the homeowner, the contractor, and the program.
- Without recognition of and reward for excellence, excellence takes a back seat to other priorities.
- Without recognition of and reward for accuracy, accuracy takes a back seat to other priorities.
- Without recognition of and reward for savings, savings takes a back seat to other priorities.
- Excellence, accuracy, and savings cannot be “administered” into existence; they must be paid for. The can be incentivized with recognition and reward.
- You get what you pay for, so pay for what you want! Pay for “negawatts.”
- Accountability and transparency lead to trust. Truth is not afraid of the light.
- Consistent, provable results will lead to trust and interest from the financial sector. This is the path to scale.
Our industry has failed miserably
Those are hard, aren’t they? As was discussed in part one, the home performance industry has failed miserably at creating market transformation. Most of these truths fly in the face of conventional wisdom and practices.
It was through the discovery of these truths that the One Knob program goals — a focus on results, accountability, and market transformation — became obvious to me.
My next blog will include a summary of what One Knob actually is. After that, how such a program is likely to affect you. (Hint: it’s a good thing.)
Nate Adams is a recovering insulation contractor turned Home Performance consultant. His company, Energy Smart Home Performance, is located in Mantua, Ohio. Using a comprehensive design approach, he fixes client woes with a market-driven process that he hopes will lead to market transformation for our industry.
- Einalem / Flickr
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