Residential energy efficiency programs across the United States have found that providing homeowners with a single point of contact increases the likelihood of an upgrade being completed and increases customer satisfaction levels. Often called an energy advisor or energy coach, this professional assists the homeowner through every step of the upgrade process and can provide a variety of services to help customers overcome the traditional barriers to completing a home energy upgrade.
Energy advisors can orient customers to the program by providing an overview to the upgrades process, clearly defined next steps, and a description of their role throughout the process. Other common energy advisor services have ranged from being a trusted, independent expert on technical aspects of the upgrade to facilitating logistics and explaining financing for the home energy upgrade process. Following are a few approaches that programs across the United States have successfully implemented:
Advisors Gain Customer Trust—and Upgrades
The EnergySmart program in Boulder County, Colorado, assigned an energy advisor to each program participant. The advisor conducted an initial home visit to build trust with the homeowner and maintained a close working relationship throughout the upgrade process. Energy advisors installed low-cost energy savings measures, reviewed assessment reports, and helped homeowners select contractors and complete paperwork. Participating homeowners rated their energy advisors very favorably, while the EnergySmart program enjoyed a robust conversion ratio; nearly 70 percent of enrolled homeowners completed a home energy upgrade.
Relationships Help Raise Conversion Rates
A Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partner in Denver, Colorado, launched the Denver Energy Challenge with a model focused initially on door-to-door outreach. After experiencing difficulty scheduling energy assessments and converting interest into upgrades, Denver Energy Challenge revamped the program and offered energy advisor services. These advisors helped customers understand energy upgrades, identify available rebates and financing options, find qualified contractors and review bids, and even connected qualified residents with other free or subsidized energy improvements outside the Denver Energy Challenge. Nearly 75% of customers who worked with an energy advisor went on to complete a home energy upgrade.
Helping Homeowners Overcome Barriers
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont energy advisors helped participating homeowners navigate every step of the upgrade process in small towns across Rutland County, Vermont. Advisors scheduled contractor visits for homeowners, met with homeowners to review their energy assessment reports, and helped them prioritize improvements based on their needs and budgets. They also helped customers who needed it apply for financing—a common point in the upgrade process where projects stall—and facilitate the next steps in the upgrade process.
Advisors Conduct Assessments, Connect With Contractors
The RePower program in Washington State used a “low-pressure” energy assessment conducted by an energy advisor to kick off the relationship and discuss initial ideas for upgrades. Later, advisors connected customers with qualified contractors. The program also offered a virtual “help desk,” where customers could contact energy advisors through a phone number or email with questions about the recommendations they received from their advisor or contractor.
Tell Me More
For more information about using energy advising services to minimize informational, decision-making, and transactional barriers homeowners face when considering energy upgrades, read Energy Advisors: Improving Customer Experience and Efficiency Program Outcomes.
Discover more residential energy efficiency outreach tips by visiting the Program Design & Customer Experience – Make Design Decisions handbook for step-by-step instructions and program examples.
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