Just as no two houses are the same, homeowners have different upgrade needs, time constraints, and budgets. A comprehensive evaluation of more than 140 residential energy efficiency programs across the United States found that successful programs offered participants more than one option for home energy assessments. Some have found that more comprehensive assessments can motivate customers to undertake deeper energy upgrades. For others, low-cost, less time-intensive assessments can attract homeowners with less need for improvement, time, or funds to invest. Offering more basic and advanced assessment options enables customers to choose the best method to begin the upgrade process based on their needs and resources.
Following are examples of programs that attracted greater homeowner participation by offering various assessment options. Read more about how these strategies worked in the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center.
Offer a Free, Basic Option
In Washington, RePower Bainbridge offered homeowners two participation pathways: an in-depth assessment performed by a Building Performance Institute-certified contractor available for a fee, or a free, basic assessment conducted by a RePower Bainbridge energy advisor. The free assessment listed the three highest priority recommended energy upgrades, while the in-depth assessment provided more information, such as estimated savings from recommended upgrades. The program completed 900 basic assessments, which resulted in a 11.4 percent conversion rate to upgrades, and 306 in-depth assessments, which had a 40 percent conversion rate, or 124 upgrades.
Help Homeowner Choose
Boulder County, Colorado’s EnergySmart program used energy advisors to direct homeowners toward the most appropriate type of assessment for their needs. Options included a free phone consultation, a walk-through assessment for $50, and a comprehensive assessment for $135—all of which were subsidized by the program. The comprehensive assessment was the most frequently selected option and represented more than half of the total households that completed an upgrade.
Provide Tiered Assessments
Clean Energy Works Oregon, now Enhabit, initially conducted a comprehensive Home Performance with ENERGY STAR assessment for each participating homeowner, which proved too costly for the program and contractors. To reduce costs, Clean Energy Works introduced a less intensive visual assessment option. Homeowners who decided to undertake upgrades could then invest in more in-depth, diagnostic testing.
Tell Me More
Discover more insights on how to offer various assessment options by visiting the Program Design & Customer Experience – Make Design Decisions handbook for step-by-step instructions and program examples.
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Your Input Counts
If you would like to suggest a proven practice that worked for your program or ask a question that other programs might be able to answer, email your question or idea and we’ll address it in an upcoming Proven Practices post.
Continue the Conversation About Offering Various Assessment Options
Interested in talking with your peers about offering various assessment options and other proven practices? Consider joining the Better Buildings Residential Network, where energy efficiency program administrators like you are discussing program design, implementation, and evaluation strategies in regularly scheduled peer calls and on virtual discussion forums. Join the Residential Network.