Why the U.S. Doe’s signature program for inspectors might be worth a look for your business this year.
With another dizzying InspectionWorld® coming up soon, many readers will find themselves warming toes by the fire as they sift through dozens of vendor business cards, each representing a recent conversation centered on a promising new service for their business. For those members, and for anyone who’s engaged in the overwhelming annual tradition of strategizing business development during the hard-earned off-season, we offer a handy overview using some key factors that any good business owner brings to bear when considering a new offering.
The Cost Factor
Taking on any new service requires an investment in both time and money, so how much of both of those does it take to become a Home Energy Score Assessor? First, being an Assessor doesn’t require any new tools, since it was designed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from the very beginning to roll smoothly into an inspector’s existing services and established practices. You can leave the blower doors and the duct blasters to the energy auditors of the world.
Zero investment in new tools to lug around is a plus, but there is a cost to maintaining compliance with a high-credibility program like this one, so here’s the deal: Getting through the Home Energy Score “fast track” developed by ASHI and ID Energy will cost you $200 as a one-time fee. From there, the ongoing quality assurance that the DOE requires (the same QA, it should be noted, that will keep the riff-raff out of the competition pool) could run you as much as $22 per Score if you do only a few. But ID Energy is offering a bundle right now as part of the initial partnership rollout that gives you unlimited Scores for $399. That means that if you do more than 20 Scores per year, you’re saving money, and if you do dozens or even hundreds of Scores per year, you’re saving a lot of money.
So, there’s your cost in dollars. In terms of the time commitment required, we can’t tell you with great certainty how long it will take you to get through the self-paced online training (for some, that pace is measured in hours; for others, in weeks), but we can tell you that it’s a lot easier to do that than it used to be. In fact, this is the first off-season in which ASHI members have access to the well-received services of ID Energy, whose friendly, simplified approach to Home Energy Score training has guided dozens of ASHI inspectors through the process in record time.
The other time-related component here is reflected in the additional steps required to perform a Home Energy Score as part of a normal home inspection. Feedback from inspectors currently offering the Score suggests that an experienced Assessor can complete the necessary data collection and data entry tasks in 30 minutes, when he or she conducts them as part of an inspection on an average-sized home.
The Profitability Factor
Like our partners at the DOE, ASHI is dedicated to helping create a marketplace where homebuyers are fully aware of the energy implications of their purchase and fully empowered to make good decisions about lessening their home’s energy impacts.
There’s one additional factor that inspectors must work into the equation, however. We need to make actual money while we’re at it.
That means that we have to weigh the “cost” section (see above) against the ability for the Home Energy Score to drive more contracts or better margins for our businesses.
There are a good many factors involved in gauging that increased revenue potential and most assessors out there now are going about it in one of two ways:
- Offer the Home Energy Score as an ancillary service and charge $100-$150 for it. The rates are entirely up to the individual inspector, of course, but reports from the field suggest that this fee range is the general sweet spot. You may hear that inspectors in Portland, Oregon, are getting $250 or more for the same service, but that may be for stand-alone assessments and it probably isn’t applicable to business models where the Score is opted for voluntarily.
- Include the Score as part of a standard inspection and raise rates accordingly. Some inspectors are seeing that they can handle the necessary steps very quickly once they nail down the process, and they’re marketing the inclusive package as a differentiator to win more jobs and to be seen as an industry leader by a savvier clientele.
The "X" Factor
These “intangible” benefits are harder to put solid numbers around, but smart inspectors understand that they can sometimes equate to a lot of value for a customer-focused business. Branding is probably the best single example of this phenomenon at work with the Home Energy Score—if there are other associations out there that offer the same recognition and immediate credibility as the U.S. Department of Energy, we’re not aware of them.
And while the hope is that ASHI members will start including the Score on all of their inspections, a business model that delivers Scores only often enough to remain in good standing with the program (and to continue to co-brand liberally in your marketing) is one that we can understand.
Showing your increasingly younger, greener clients that you’re in tune with their proven priorities around energy efficiency is quickly becoming more of a “must have” than a “nice to have” when it comes to presenting your business.
And offering the Score—whether or not you sell one on every job—is one of the best ways to project professionalism to clients and to Realtor networks alike.
Sound Like a Good Fit? Get Started Now.
Jen Gallegos at ASHI HQ is always on hand to answer questions and to help you get the ball rolling. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can save a step and head right to ID Energy to get signed up.
They’re waiting for your application at energyscoreusa.com/sign_up.php