EnergyFit Nevada is a non-profit that helps residents perform whole-house energy assessments and install energy-efficient home improvements. EnergyFit Nevada connects homeowners with approved contractors, and provides instant rebates and financial incentives to help homeowners lower their energy bills. In 2011, the EnergyFit Nevada program faced high administrative costs related to quality control and data handling. In addition, the program suffered from concerns about the consistency of the customer experience and challenges in contractor recruitment.
EnergyFit Nevada was also selected to be part of a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy and Energy Savvy to determine the effect of presenting a home’s Home Energy Score (HES) to homeowners. Specifically, the study hoped to understand how the HES would affect the interest, timing, and amount of investment in home energy efficiency improvements. To participate in this study, EnergyFit Nevada needed a special version OptiMiser version that would produce a unique integration of OptiMiser audits with HES, along with a compelling and easily-understandable Home Energy Score report for homeowners.
To help combat these costs and challenges, EnergyFit Nevada chose OptiMiser home energy auditing software to bring automation, SalesForce integration, and improved communication to their program. With OptiMiser, the EnergyFit Nevada team can now accomplish their goals more efficiently – dedicating half as much staff time as before to data handling, project management, and reporting. OptiMiser also delivered seamless integration of the Home Energy Score into their software and reports. By standardizing processes and data, streamlining communications with homeowners and contractors, and cutting down on data entry, OptiMiser is helping Nevadans save energy, time and money.
Challenge 1: Integrating Home Energy Score into the
As an ENERGY STAR (HPwES) sponsor program, EnergyFit Nevada was selected to provide the Home Energy Score to homeowners as part of their HPwES in-home energy audit.
To achieve this, the OptiMiser team created a version of their software that would produce Home Energy Scores for the existing and improved home based on OptiMiser’s modeling and integration with the Home Energy Score API. OptiMiser generated Home Energy Scores and added Home Energy Score information to the standard EnergyFit Nevada assessment report for homeowners who were part of the study group.
Challenge 2: Data Processing and Quality Control
Prior to implementing OptiMiser, document and data handling was a big challenge for EnergyFit. Because the program works with a large number of independent auditors, administration required hundreds of hours of manual handling of documents. With OptiMiser, the EnergyFit Nevada team got a data collection tool custom-tailored to their needs that could provide immediate feedback to auditors in the field. In addition, OptiMiser delivered a high quality, consistent way of reporting data – EnergyFit Nevada could count on finding the same information in the same place every time, with a clear understanding of the data and assumptions underlying the reports.
As a result, EnergyFit Nevada dramatically increased the quality of the data: reducing staff time needed for quality control, decreasing the number of files sent back to auditor, and improving homeowner satisfaction.
Challenge 3: Customer Communications
EnergyFit Nevada wanted contractors to be able to provide a top-quality and informative report to their customers. They needed a solution that would ensure a core set of important building performance information would reach every homeowner, while allowing auditors the freedom to tailor each report to the specific needs of the client.
OptiMiser took its standard comprehensive, user-configurable report and developed a custom version to meet EnergyFit’s requirements quickly and at low cost. Homeowners now receive an engaging EnergyFit Nevada-branded report that reflects their unique concerns and includes images from their house with minimal time invested by the auditor in reporting. In addition, for customers participating in the Home Energy Score study, homeowners also received detailed Home Energy score information in their reports.
Challenge 4: Contractor Adoption
With their adoption of OptiMiser as their energy audit tool, EnergyFit Nevada mandated that all contractors in the program use the software. As with any tool, there was a learning curve, and many contractors were initially resistant to the change. Neal VanCitters (now Director of Quality Assurance for EnergyFit Nevada), was a participating contractor in the program at the time OptiMiser was adopted. He recalls his experience,
“I was initially resistant, but once I got into OptiMiser and learned it, the time it took to do an assessment went way down for me. I was able to input building characteristics in a much more quick and easy fashion.”
- Neal VanCitters, Director of Quality Assurance for EnergyFit Nevada
EnergyFit Nevada decided to provide trainings for contractors in multiple locations to maximize the number of contractors that could participate in the OptiMiser trainings. OptiMiser provided full-day trainings that were well received. With OptiMiser’s streamlined data entry and the flexibility in reporting, it has proven to be a great timesaver for contractors, as well as beneficial to homeowners. As a result, the EnergyFit team now promotes access to OptiMiser as a benefit to the participating in program. Rather than a challenge, audit software has become an asset to the partner contractors.
The Result: A Perfect Fit for EnergyFit
EnergyFit Nevada has faced many challenges: process bottlenecks, inefficient quality control, and a great deal of churn in project data. OptiMiser has helped the EnergyFit team by providing a flexible and custom-tailored solution for automating time-consuming data entry and improving data quality. OptiMiser’s standardized HPXML allows easy sharing across applications and platforms, and uploads into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, such as SalesForce.
EnergyFit Nevada was able to leverage OptiMiser’s core competencies — accuracy, flexibility and beautiful reports – to increase customer satisfaction and engagement with the program. In addition, EnergyFit Nevada had the unwavering support of the OptiMiser staff, who went the extra mile to quickly deliver a program that met the team’s needs.
Ultimately, the decision to use OptiMiser reduced their cost per home for delivery, and OptiMiser became a critical part of overall program success.