Tips for Success

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Many programs found that market research can help identify, segment, and characterize audiences to understand how to prioritize them. A comprehensive evaluation of over 140 programs across the United States found that programs had greater success when they identified specific target populations...
To develop a successful business model, Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found it critical to have a strong understanding of the external environment within which they operated. This included who their customers were, who their competitors and partners were, what key policies governed...
All residential energy efficiency programs have found that outreach needs to be repeated to connect with and remind potential participants about program offerings. As marketing gurus note, the majority of people need to be exposed to a product message at least three times (on separate occasions) to...
Without an incentive, homeowners and contractors may limit themselves to smaller upgrade projects. Programs in search of more energy savings have found that some homeowners already interested in an upgrade are amenable to a bigger upgrade when coupled with better financing terms or larger rebates...
In order to overcome lenders’ concerns over the risk associated with energy efficiency loans, many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners offered credit enhancements to lenders (e.g., loan loss reserve funds) to attract lender participation and to mitigate lender losses in the event of loan...
Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found that program dashboards—regularly updated, easily accessed, summary reports of key metrics—helped them identify problems and monitor program progress toward their goals. Depending on the program’s goals and needs, dashboards included metrics...
Programs that enabled contractors to install energy saving measures during the home energy assessment were more successful than those that did not. Based on a comprehensive analysis of over 140 programs across the United States, programs that provided direct installation of some low-cost measures...
Many successful programs found that getting media attention for their offerings and benefits helped add credibility to marketing efforts and expand their reach. By positioning "green" stories or home improvement mini-segments on local television or radio stations, they provided timely content that...
A residential energy efficiency program’s success is dependent on the quality of work that contractors conduct in customers’ homes. Indeed, an in-depth examination of selected program strategies found that effective quality assurance and quality control programs provided a foundation for quality...
Though potentially challenging, establishing relationships for sharing energy consumption data is critical for evaluating program impact on energy and cost savings. Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found success by approaching utilities during the program planning phase, or at...
Following up on leads that result from your marketing and outreach efforts quickly and consistently will help your program convert them from interested parties to satisfied customers. Many programs found a sizable drop-off in action if they or their contractors were not able to follow up within a...
Programs found that encouraging word of mouth outreach by asking satisfied customers to promote their program experience to peers helped attract more homeowners who completed energy upgrades. Referrals from neighbors and friends who are happy with their energy improvements can provide a good source...
Financing can be a complicated topic for programs, and having staff with financing knowledge and expertise can be very valuable. Financing program administration involves working with lenders and understanding how they operate as well as understanding financial regulatory issues and loan product...
Successful programs know that it is not enough to get customers interested in their services. They know that homeowners that receive assessments but don’t undertake upgrades don’t receive the benefits of energy efficiency—and programs don’t get credit for energy savings. Instead of emphasizing...
Paper-based or spreadsheet-based information collection processes can be low cost to develop and easy to roll-out, but more often than not, they become cumbersome to aggregate and store the data from many sources. Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found that investing in...
Successful residential energy efficiency programs strive to set requirements for high-quality home energy upgrades and streamline processes to facilitate contractor participation. Balancing these two essential elements can minimize the burden on contractors and help the program maintain a consistent...
Given all of the other things that compete for your audience’s attention, it is critical that program participation steps are straightforward and easy to understand. Many programs have found that complexity makes it harder for interested homeowners to complete upgrade projects. These programs have...
Words have power, so many programs decided to use language with positive associations. For example, the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program encouraged use of the term "assessment" instead of "audit" to avoid the negative connotation of a tax audit. "Home energy upgrade" sounds more positive than...
Lenders can be a valuable partner for programs in marketing loan products and driving demand for home energy upgrades. They are often a trusted source of information in a community, and they have access to potential customers and partners such as existing customers, loan aggregators, and large...
Your program will rely on its contractor base in order to succeed, so take steps to ensure that the capacity of the workforce is sufficient to launch your program and to maintain it as it grows. An evaluation of over 140 programs found that successful programs fostered and maintained relationships...
Programs in many regions of the U.S. find that the concept of home performance is new to homeowners. Homeowners may not know how energy efficiency measures compare (e.g., energy savings benefits of insulation versus new windows) or have not heard about some effective measures, such as air sealing...
Measuring performance at key points in the upgrade process (e.g., assessments, conversion rates, and financing applications) has helped programs understand where their processes are working smoothly and where they are not. This information has helped them continuously improve their program design...
Incentives can be the easiest approach to overcome motivation barriers and attract customers’ and contractors’ attention, as long as the upgrade and reimbursement processes are kept simple and easy to follow. Successful programs have found incentives help entice customers to complete upgrades...
Several successful residential energy efficiency programs offered multiple types of home energy assessments to appeal to a wider spectrum of homeowner interests and needs. These ranged from online home assessments to brief walk-throughs to full diagnostic testing. A comprehensive evaluation of over...
Many programs found it useful to partner with a range of trusted organizations or individuals to market program offerings to their constituencies or followers. Better Buildings Neighborhood Program participants enhanced their marketing and outreach efforts by partnering with trusted local groups...
Developing new energy efficiency loan products requires financial expertise and resources that not every program has available or that might not even be necessary. Finding and promoting existing energy efficiency loan products, such as loans that may be offered by a local credit union, your state...
Low-cost financing for home energy upgrades does not increase customer demand for upgrades on its own. A comprehensive evaluation of over 140 programs across the United States found that homeowners must be sold on the benefits of home energy upgrades before financing can become valuable to them...
Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found that setting up their information technology (IT) systems early in the program design stage ensured that data terms and data entry procedures were consistently applied by all system users. Reaching agreement with stakeholders (e.g...
Early on, many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners focused on providing customers with a range of contractors to choose from, while providing contractors with access to customers. Customer feedback received by some programs, however, indicated that customers were confused or overwhelmed...
Many programs used the information they gathered through their quality assurance efforts to recognize contractors that deliver consistent, high-quality work. Rewarding good contractor performance can help you build trust, strengthen partnerships, and boost workforce morale. You can incentivize...
Some programs provide customers with a “certificate of completion” to recognize and reward homeowners’ accomplishment in completing an upgrade. Visible awards or affirmation, such as yard signs, window stickers, or favorable comparisons to neighbors can motivate homeowners to undertake upgrades...
Many program administrators have found that launching and scaling up a program often takes longer than planned for, especially when forming partnerships with contractors and lenders. New energy efficiency programs often need at least 2-3 years to launch and become fully operational. Across programs...
Many programs struggle with communicating the value of financing to homeowners. Financing can be a complicated topic, and ensuring that homeowners understand how their loans work and the benefits they will realize is important for converting interest into action. Many Better Buildings Neighborhood...
Historically, energy efficiency financing have required two sources of funding: credit enhancement funds to mitigate risk and support attractive financing, and senior capital to fund the majority of the loan principal. Some residential energy efficiency programs have successfully assembled loan...