December, 2017
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Why NOT Offer The Home Energy Score?

ASHI STAFF

Voices from across the country weigh in on a surging “Score”

We do a lot of crowing in these pages about the success of the new ASHI/Home Energy Score partnership—about how our new “Fast Track” onboarding process coincides perfectly with homebuyers’ growing demand for energy efficiency information as a critical part of the homebuying process.

Chapter leaders from around the country have been seeing to it that their members are aware of promising initiatives like this one and when those chapter leaders gathered in Des Plaines, IL, in October for the annual ASHI Leadership Training Conference, they came prepared to share both success stories and common questions they’ve been hearing about the program.

Ken Slattery from the HES program and Brent Loya from ID Energy were on hand to get an occasional pat on the back, and to speak to the issues that have sometimes stood between ASHI members’ businesses and full adoption of the Home Energy Score. In this article, we will shed some light on these “Sure, it’s a great program, but...” issues that inspectors might consider as they shift into a well-deserved season of developing new business strategies.


(left to right) Ken Slattery (Home Energy Score), Jen Gallegos (ASHI) and Brent Loya (ID Energy) are standing by to help ASHI members “energize” their businesses.

“But” #1: “I already do all that stuff anyway.”
Make no mistake, the fact that inspectors are out there gathering and reporting on energy efficiency information as part of their standard reports is unquestionably a good thing since it reflects ASHI inspectors’ propensity to remain in front of critical industry trends. Some members have even devised their own energy-efficiency reports to better present important but hard-to-understand energy information.

That’s a key function of the Home Energy Score report—presenting energy efficiency information in the simplest possible way to a homebuyer who’s already drowning in data and details. If you’ve seen the Home Energy Score’s 1-10 scale, you know that the Department of Energy (DOE) has succeeded in that “keep it simple” mission, while bringing unmatched credibility to the table as well.

What’s more, the automatically generated list of recommendations for improvements that comes with every report offers both actionable information to your clients and a critical “arm’s length” buffer from the liability of offering recommendations of your own.

“But” #2: “My utility offers the Score and for cheap.”
It’s true that power providers across the country are getting wise to the value that the Home Energy Score provides homeowners and homebuyers, and if the utility in your service area is one of those, then you’re presented with both a unique challenge and a distinct advantage. (Note: Make sure that your utility is actually offering the DOE Home Energy Score and not some other type of “energy audit.” Contact Jen Gallegos at ASHI; she will help you figure that out.) 

If it turns out that you do find yourself in “competition” with your utility for offering the Score, it’s important to remember two things:

The fact that your utility offers the Score automatically gives your client a level of comfort with its legitimacy as a service and, by extension, with your own expertise as an Assessor.

Your client is unable to take advantage of the utility’s Home Energy Score services when they need it most—at the time when they’re trying to learn all the intricacies of the home they’re considering for purchase. That means that you’re the only one who can offer them a valuable and utility-endorsed service, so take advantage of that opportunity!

“But” #3: “I have to pay to offer the Home Energy Score?!”
Yes, there’s a small cost associated with offering the Home Energy Score as an ASHI member. Our partners at ID Energy do the important work of training, mentoring and measuring quality assurance that the DOE requires to keep the Home Energy Score a respected arbiter of home energy information, and ID Energy’s well-trained technicians can’t do it for free.

Keeping the Home Energy Score a respected brand means that you won’t ever have to contend with the industry’s bottom-dwellers as competition, for one thing. And all it takes is a quick look to other Home Energy Score programs in the country—Portland, OR, and the state of Wisconsin are examples—to see that ASHI effectively secured its members a tremendous bargain for these services. Depending on the number of Scores that you deliver, compliance services can amount to only a dollar or two per inspection, which leaves ASHI inspectors with one fewer excuse for not participating.

“But” #4: “Nobody asks for it.”
Brent and Ken are the first to admit that the Home Energy Score isn’t yet a household name in most parts of the country, and that home inspectors waiting for direct customer requests for the service might end up waiting a long time.

Still, it’s undeniable that homebuyers increasingly value the “green”-ness and energy efficiency of their home, especially the younger, savvier buyers who make up the industry’s biggest segment. And those buyers are starting to ask now, which means that one approach is for inspectors to wait until the Score becomes an industry standard before jumping into the crowded fray, while the other strategy is to begin delivering better service for higher rates and more satisfied customers right now. The choice is yours.

“But” #5: “I hear it’s hard to get on board.”
This is a rap that the Home Energy Score team will readily cop to. In past years, ASHI members were sent into the DOE wilderness to try to make sense of a complicated “Sim” online training. Then, if they were dogged enough to clear that hurdle, Assessor candidates’ options for securing a partner to keep them compliant with the program were slim and frustrating. 

Suffice to say that those dark days are now behind us: ASHI’s partnership with ID Energy, finalized this year and currently guiding dozens of Assessors through the ASHI Fast Track every month, provides always-available guidance from real people (like Brent!) who are committed to helping you improve every aspect of your business. They are building long-term relationships with ASHI members dedicated to getting through the Home Energy Score training quickly, and to adopting the program into their unique business model in a seamless and profitable way.

The ASHI Home Energy Score team will be holding court next month at InspectionWorld®, so come by to say hello, share your experience with being an Assessor or offer up any new reasons you can think of (that list is getting pretty short) for not becoming part of the Home Energy Score brigade! Pats on the back are strictly optional, but always appreciated.

For more information or to get your firm on the fast track to offering the Home Energy Score to your clients, please contact Jen Gallegos at jeng@ashi.org. or visit www.energyscoreUSA.com.