Posted by Home Star Guy | Posted in Home Star News | Posted on 03-04-2010
(Update 5/8: HomeStar has passed the House and is on its way towards passage in the Senate)
In this post we’re going to take a look at what HomeStar might mean for various actors in the marketplace. Of course, this is just my own editorial opinion, so take it for what it’s worth. Or ideally, post your own thoughts in the comments!
If You’re a Citizen, HomeStar Means:
No matter who you are, if you live in this country, HomeStar means a few simple benefits:
- Economic boost via job creation, home improvement materials sales and innovation in the energy efficiency sector. You have to spend money to make money.
- Reduced pollution. Each time a home becomes more energy efficient we have one less need to build a coal plant in your state. Less coal plants means healthier air, right?
- Increased security. Energy Efficiency, long run, means more use of our own domestic supply of energy. Which means, ideally, less conflict over fossil fuels. Which means less fighting (obviously reality is more complex, but lets not drift…)
If You’re a Homeowner, HomeStar Means:
As a homeowner, this is an incredible opportunity to make your home modern, cozy and spiffy efficient with a great deal. Click here, for a breakdown of the rebates. Keep in mind, this isn’t end of year tax savings, it’s a cold hard rebate right at point of sale.
If you think your home is not at modern efficiency standards, this would be the time to really go for it.
If You’re a Home Performance Contractor or Energy Auditor, it Means:
Seriously folks? If you’re a home performance contractor or auditor, what are you reading this for? If you don’t know what to do for home star now, you’re a lost cause ;) Kidding! Seriously though, if you are an integrated home performance company or auditor you’re probably well ahead of me either way.
One point for independent auditors to consider is the viability of independent audits going forward. In your market there are likely dozens of small companies considering offering integrated home performance and there are a handfull of players ramping up to go national. These integrated companies will likely offer audits at a steep discount as a loss leader to get in the door and sell full retrofits worth $7,500 – $20,000k. So, while I have no crystal ball, you may run into steep price competition there. It may be worth it to consider joining forces with integrated companies.
Beyond that, the biggest thing is making sure you are in the ‘flow’ where homeowners will learn about HomeStar. So that means knowing which utilities and government programs to partner with, which sites to market on, etc, etc.
If You’re a Home Improvement Contractor, HomeStar Means:
If you’re a remodeler or specialist (e.g. insulation or window) contractor you’ve got a couple of points to consider.
Without getting into the minutia of the bill (which isn’t final anyway), you’re basically going to want to become either a BPI Accredited Company, or at least have a BPI Certified Contractor on staff. That, and or, have a RESNET rater on your team. Virtually any imaginable permutation of the bill will require something along these lines. You can learn about BPI here and RESNET here. Some contractors bemoan this requirement because they have obtained high quality building science skills via other means, but the law is the law, right?
If you want to participate in HomeStar Gold you’re especially going to need to follow-up on this given that it’s performance based.
If You’re a Utility or Government, HomeStar Means:
If you are a utility or government, especially if you are a Home Performance with Energy Star Sponsor, you’re going to want to roll out Home Star quickly. This means you need a few things:
- A smart way to reach, motivate and qualify homeowners. Given that there’s a performance aspect to this, you likely want to have some way for homeowners to estimate their savings.
- A network of screened and qualified contractors to do the work
- A way to process rebates. There’s a provision and structure for rebate processors (rebate aggregators) and you’ll want to understand and act on the requirements as they get rolled out. This functional also covers quality assurance which requires various levels of spot checks for Gold vs. Silver.
There’s a number of companies that can help you with these various elements. Obviously the big players like CSG will be all over this. Some smaller companies can help with other various aspects. It may be worth checking out Recurve, EnergySavvy or perhaps even Microsoft Hohm. EnergySavvy is a homeowner focused experience with a tool to estimate savings, rebate information and a national contractor network of screened BPI and RESNET contractors. While they are focused on reaching directly to homeowners, it’s known that they also provide their experience to others in embedded forms as a sort of outsourced solution. Recurve today primarily looks like a home performance contracting company, but it is known that they are working on software based services to support the industry and the various scenarios.
If You’re a Home Performace Software Maker, HomeStar Means:
There are lots of companies that make in home energy audit software for contractors. To name a few, you have CSG, Treat by PSD Consulting, Apogee, Rem Rate, Home Check and Recurve is rumored to be building one as well.
Each of these vendors is probably all over Home Star. Basically the software will likely have to pass the modeling standard of BESTEST EX which itself is not yet complete. There’s also another standard from the Weatherization program that should work too. The DOE is allowed to designate tools as well, so if you know Stephen Chu, just give him a call.
If You’re a Lender, HomeStar Means:
Lenders should have a field day with Home Star – in a good way. This will present a great opportunity to finance home improvements because lenders should be assured of payback given that the homeowner is going to see a cash flow gain through reduced energy bills in many cases.
There’s some technicalities in the proposed legislation whereby states or others can leverage lending dollars from the government, but to do that you need to have a way to present potential retrofit savings estimates to users. Bottom line, is if you are a lender that wants to reach the homer improvement market for financing, this should be a solid opportunity. So you’ll want to have a plan for marketing to qualified homeowners and be part of he overall flow of the transactions. See above for companies that may be able to help with this.
If You’re a Product Marketer, HomeStar Means:
If you market home improvement products that save energy, you’re in a similar position as lenders. By and large, it is expected that many of the installed products will come through in-home contractors. So you’ll want to make sure your products are well positioned to the types of contractors that will be doing home star. You’ll also want to make sure you’re identifying the channels where homeowners will learn about Home Star and be part of the overall transaction flow. For example, if you are a window company and you just market directly to consumers but your installers do not have the right credentials to offer Home Star you may be in a sticky spot.
If You’re a Home Improvement Retailer, HomeStar Means:
You’ll probably want to come up with some way to partner with the right contractors and engage homeowners about the benefits of energy efficiency. At least arming your sales and marketing folks with the right information makes sense and perhaps it’s worth considering in-store kiosk tools and partnering up with contractor networks. There are companies that can help you with this – see above.
Phew! That was a lot of stuff. Bear in mind this is just one guys read on the situation and no one really has a crystal ball here. Also the legislation isn’t final and so who really knows what technicalities or other issues will shape the marketplace. Either way it’s exciting times for everyone!