If you’re convening a conversation on home energy retrofits, you really need to include contractors who make their living in the market delivering retrofits. Period.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several discussions about the home performance “industry”. (Yes, it’s small, but I still call it an industry, and I’m talking not just about those who’ve cut their teeth in home performance, but also those like smart HVAC companies adding home performance to their offerings.) In many of these conversations, I seen a historical tendency sadly perpetuated. Namely, there is a lot of discussion about how to make home performance work that takes place without a single contractor voice. Pretending to know how to make home performance work without intimate involvement from contractors is doomed to fail.
Contractors should be full partners—It’s imperative to design a program that contractors want to sell—and convince them that the opportunity is worth the time and money to get the appropriate training and equipment.
Driving Demand for Home Energy Improvements, by Fuller, et al.
DOE-funded research confirms this. Programs who’ve been successful know this. And yet, time and time again, contractors are a mere afterthought. It no wonder that home performance programs have cited difficulty in attracting contractors. And it’s not surprising that contractors are often hesitant to participate in efficiency programs, especially more comprehensive programs. The short presentation below touches on some of the reasons why, and provides at a high-level what you need to know to successfully engage contractors in home energy-efficiency programs.
But don’t take this as the final word. If you are developing or implementing a program, get out there and talk with the contractors you need to make the program work. Listen to their concerns. And figure out out to use market forces to help make your goals rather than fight them every step of the way. (If you need help finding the contractors, contact Efficiency First.)