Prior to this some companies offered "Free Audits." These Free audits aren't free. Your home is a long term investment for you, not the contractor. A free audit puts pressure on selling product, not on good design.
WHY HIRE SOMEONE TO PERFORM AN AUDIT?
if you pay for it you can hold them accountable to deliver quality recommendations, not simply recommend work they want to perform.
I CUT MY CUSTOMERS ENERGY BILLS 30-70%,
THAT'S NOT MAGIC,
BUT IT DOESN'T HAPPEN WITHOUT A THOROUGH, COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT
Also, they can hold that contractor accountable for doing a thorough job.
A little history might help paint this picture:
In the summer of 2008 I started working for a BPI Accredited HVAC company. After taking 4 BPI Building Performance courses, I went in thinking we were going to provide comprehensive consulting services. I learned that was not the case, the focus was to sell furnaces and insulation as quickly as possible, and use HPwES to facilitate rebates to the consumer and to the company.
Initially I was told we only did audits if the program was required to make the sale. We couldn’t just sell audits unless we charged $750. (If you are only selling high quality audits and design services this is actually not enough to be profitable. But if you do a fair amount of work in conjunction with the audit, and don't have a whole bunch of "bids" to throw together for people who are not clients, building comprehensive designs is justifiable.)
Over the next year or so I worked out the bugs and eventually developed a fair method of communicating to people the benefit of having an audit before expensive, long term improvements were committed to. It's like having an x-ray before surgery. After the machine gets rolling you are living with the result.
It is very clear that the customer is best served when thorough diagnostics are performed BEFORE expensive changes are made.
A house is a system. Quick fixes often have unintended consequences. Beware of simple solutions that put a paycheck in a salesperson's pocket - you live with the results! Build the relationship. Build in accountability. Look for solutions, not products. Cures, not treatments.
This approach puts things in the proper order. If you build the work scope AFTER the audit you avoid embarrassing missed opportunities (no back pedaling) and your recommendations are much more thorough.
A TRUE WIN/WIN!
By focusing more energy on people who recognize the benefit of paying for diagnostics, better recommendations are built and implemented, meaning better results. This has huge benefit to the client, and it actually appears to benefit the company because sales tend to be larger.
I save my clients 30-70% on their energy bills,
HERE IS ONE EXAMPLE:
This gas bill shows stove and hot water estimates. Then in November the oil furnace was replaced with a three stage Infinity furnace with ECM blower. The gas company continued to estimate based on past history, so every other month the actual read caught the bill up. What you see is usage for 2 months. The worst 2 months was about 150 therms.
Because comfort is so dramatically improved homeowners fall in love with their homes and become very enthusiastic referral sources and project examples. I am documenting results and will create a blog for homeowners to comment about their experiences over time.
Here is the basic process:
- Visit the homeowner, possibly for free - review energy bills and home - get a very thorough questionaire. This questionaire is the foundation upon which their option packages if they go to audit step. Hopefully drives of more than 20 minutes will be rare, or the homeowner may have to pay something.
- Recommend Comprehensive Home Assessment which includes a computer energy model of the home under current and improved conditions, analyses the energy savings of improvements, and performs cost benefit analysis of each improvement. This allows the homeowner to really understand the financial impact of various improvements!
- Audit performed/TREAT model built. This is done in the NYSERDA approved TREAT software
- TREAT Collaboration. Good answers aren't quick, and quick answers aren't good. Face time and Think time can make a HUGE difference in design and result quality for the homeowner. If a contractor tells you the audit and recommendations can all be done in one day, be very skeptical of whose interests they are focusing on. These home improvements mean a long term benefit for you and a short term benefit to the contractor.
- DELIVER CHA and assist with decision making. (Comprehensive Home Analysis), answer questions about various recommendations, then review the financial and comfort implications.
- Energy Model including Contracted Package and Contract electronically sent to CSG in Albany for approval. Approval can take as little as 2 days if the model has no errors and improvements don't elicit questions.
- Job Approval. This allows the job to be scheduled and work to move forward
- Job Completion. Upon completion the home is "Tested Out," This inspection checks that work was done to specifications and that there are no health and safety issues.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Without performing an audit, and thoughtfully looking at the information uncovered, you may lock yourself into a path that cannot take full advantage of these opportunities, a path you later regret.
Will the audit always uncover great hidden opportunities? Do you always need an x-ray to see if a bone is set right? No, of course not, but you don't know that until after you've seen the x-ray. X-rays, like audits, are cheap insurance against expensive mistakes.
When properly communicated to the consumer most are smart enough to understand this.