January, 2019
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Home Energy Score Update: Scoring to Win


A major home inspection franchisor jumps into the Home Energy Score fray


The Home Energy Score (HES) team is announcing this month that one of the nation’s leading home inspection firms, WIN Home Inspection, is joining forces with the rapidly expanding industry initiative. Readers of this column are well aware of the strides that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program has made in our industry over the last few years:

  • Droves of single operators around the country have made the HES a significant and profitable addition to their businesses.
  • Several key industry players have signed on as enthusiastic supporters on behalf of their inspector clients.
  • We are witnessing a major surge in policy initiatives around the country that are encouraging—and in many cases, requiring—the Score to be delivered to homebuyers as a “nudge” for the market toward providing critical energy- and budget-related information to buyers when they need it most. 

Our partners at the HES program told us recently that, as proud as they are about such progress within the inspection industry, there’s something that seems pivotal in being embraced by a leading inspection firm, something that signals a new level of industry validation. 

Joan Glickman, Program Manager of the Residential Building Integration initiative at the DOE, has been with the Home Energy Score since its earliest days. “We’re so proud to be at a point where the most successful actors in the inspection industry are seeing value in what the Score provides,” she told us recently. “Home inspectors are in a better position than anybody to build business with this tool, and to think that we are now in the mainstream within this critical industry is beyond thrilling.”

Early Adoption for the WIN
With nearly 200 locations in 33 states, WIN Home Inspection is a major player in the industry—a distinction they emphatically did not earn by taking reckless gambles on the services they make available to their franchisees, a team known to WIN as “strategic partners.” Careful observers of our ever-evolving industry, WIN’s leadership team takes a rigorous approach to signing on with new products that will serve their strategic partners by enabling them to deliver a superior inspection service to their clients, a group for WIN that includes homebuyers and real estate professionals alike. 

Pat Knight, Director of Training and Licensing for WIN, describes the decision to incorporate the HES as a natural outgrowth of WIN’s business development philosophy, a mission that focuses both on practical impact and inclusive decision-making. He said, “We want to stay on the leading edge of the industry, but not the bleeding edge. We get bombarded by opportunities to expand our inspector services, but it’s not often that a service comes along that so clearly meets the goal of doing better for our strategic partners by letting them more fully serve their own customers.”

These decisions don’t come down to WIN’s strategic partners from on high, either, but rather, they are the outcome of bringing inspectors to the table to make sure it’s the right call. Knight explained that “it was one of our inspectors working in Portland, Oregon (where the HES is required at point-of-sale), who opened our eyes to the Score. We looked into it and then put it to our inspector-driven advisory group, who gave it the thumbs up as a great opportunity for everyone across the country.” 

“Boot Camp” for an Army of Assessors"
WIN could have chosen the easy route in getting on board with the Home Energy Score program, by sponsoring an energetic inspector or two within their ranks so that they could co-brand with the DOE on national marketing materials to look the part without truly making a commitment to the program. But that’s not how things work at WIN Home Inspection. Knight told us,

These inspectors are our customers, after all, We can’t rightly ask them to be out there providing the best service of its kind to their clients if we’re not willing to do the same for them.

For a project like this one, with more than 100 inspectors chomping at the bit to become Home Energy Score Certified Assessors™, that commitment to serving their “customers” takes the form of a dedicated track at WIN’s annual conference in Nashville this month, where—in a first for the DOE—a super-sized boot camp event has been organized to whisk WIN inspectors through an HES onboarding process that can sometimes be painstaking for inspectors attempting to go it alone.

WIN went straight to the source for this specialized training event, as well, enlisting Brent Loya from I.D. Energy and Ken Slattery from the DOE’s Home Energy Score team to deliver their battle-tested “Sim” training/field mentorship combination package that delivers confident Assessors in record time. After one classroom day completing the Sim training with Brent and Ken, the WIN team will spend the following half day at a home in the area to get additional in-field instruction, and then they’ll be turned loose to their markets around the country to deliver in-demand energy performance information to their homebuying clients. 

Attending this training and becoming a Home Energy Score Certified Assessor™ isn’t required by WIN, but Knight says that the vast majority of their partners have signed up for this unique event, an organizational feat that he links to a key WIN skill set. 

"One of our real strengths is
creating clear, reliable systems that quality-focused inspectors
can really take advantage of
—it’s one of the reasons that we have such a strong contingent of military veterans on our team,
I’m proud to say."

Taking It to the Streets
As to how these freshly minted HES Assessors will actually capitalize on this new service in their businesses, WIN characteristically sees that decision as one that’s best left in the hands of the inspectors who will actually be doing the work, although WIN will be there with plenty of backup support for those who want it. Knight described the arrangement as “…building support for the Score on the tech side by including the HES report as part of the inspection report automatically, and we’ll have ongoing materials available for helping our strategic partners talk about the Score with their clients and with their agent networks to help them get the most out of this investment.”

Pressed to describe how he sees the HES benefiting his partners’ businesses, Knight notes that “as a guiding principle, we understand that our strategic partners know their particular markets better than we do. I expect that many will offer the Score as a built-in, easy-to-deliver part of every inspection, and others will feature it as an ancillary service. We know that some of them serve markets where the Score is actually part of state or local policy, and we want to make sure that we give them a leg up on their competition that way.” 

And if the experience of the many smaller operators around the country is any guide, WIN’s odds of securing that “competitive advantage” for their inspectors through the Home Energy Score are pretty high. For our part, ASHI will continue in 2019 to build upon the success that we’ve achieved through our partnership with the DOE to ensure that our inspector members remain at the forefront of this dynamic industry. 

Jen Gallegos (jeng@ashi.org) at ASHI HQ is always on hand to answer questions and to give encouragement to inspectors looking to get started using the Score. Or you can head right to ID Energy and get signed up at energyscoreusa.com/sign_up.php.