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Are Your Customers Really Interested In Home Performance?

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Are homeowners really interested in Home Performance? Maybe not the way you think!

The term Home Performance is very often tied to a host of energy-related concepts: energy savings, utility bill reduction, “going green,” and sustainability to name a few.

Recently I attended several different building/home performance conferences where I have picked up on a trend. (One of the conferences was the ACCA Building Performance Forum that you need to go to next year.)

During these conferences and at different points, in formal presentations, social discussions, and at sidebars, I heard of homeowners that talk about their interested in saving money and energy, and the “green” aspect of energy efficiency. Yet comfort and safety seem to be the major factors that propel customers to sign on the dotted line and spend money for work.

On a personal basis, we recently took action on our comfort issues and had attic air sealing and insulation done one week after we moved into a 35-year-old home. The main reason was the uncomfortable upstairs bedrooms in the summer heat. With my trusty thermal imager (you need one), I could easily see a belt of heat ringing the rooms where the ceiling met the walls.

Also, through the course of the energy survey the auditor also discovered the source of the odd smell in the little, one story “front office” room on the first floor – rotted roof sheathing due to improperly installed flashing. The pervasiveness of the smell and the knowledge that there was white mold a short distance above our heads were all we needed to say this part of the project has priority and this IAQ/health and safety issues had to be done before anything else.

My home was not performing in my “consumer mind” although; the surface thought was not about energy.

While our locally sponsored rebate program required a SIR* be calculated, we (the homeowner) only used that as a small part of our decision-making. Don’ t get me wrong, we are looking forward to the energy savings, but we could immediately realize the comfort and IAQ improvement; we felt a positive change for our investment in our home.

One large dealer group has really embraced this concept by defining much of their work process to their potential customers in a book called Home Comfort Science; What to Have Done…. and Why. In it they discuss the interchangeability between comfort and energy related concepts as they educate their customer on building science. My understanding is this mode is VERY effective in attracting and closing homeowner work.

Another trainer I work with unites the participants thinking around the concept that in building performance work Proof (that a positive change has been made) is Possible. His mode of delivery involves a local 2-day event and unites all the interested parties across all the disciplines connected with a home: builders/remodelers, real estate pros, lenders, appraisers, HVAC contractors, home inspectors, and most importantly, home owners and homebuyers. I call it the micro-macro approach- get all the parties together, in one room and make good business happen.

In these events, the word energy was rarely mentioned as IAQ, safety, comfort, and building durability issues took center stage and captured the interest of the participants.

So if your company offers Home Performance contracting, are you missing out on presenting your services to align with what homeowners want to pay for?

Alternatively, if you do not offer these services, do you not think you have customers that want to achieve a higher degree of comfort, better IAQ,, or more assurances that their family’s health and safety are considered?

To have that first discussion with customers on home performance, you need to understand and relate to their definition of performance, and avoid using terminology that does not keep the conversation moving. Try saving the discussion of energy and science until later in the talk.

* SIR takes the total energy savings over the lifetime of the improvement (Present Value) divided by the upfront cost of the investment. This calculation may or may not include increases in energy prices or inflation rates.

Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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