Ryan Moore, Director of Client Engagement at OptiMiser, interviewed Charlie Gohman, Manager, Arizona Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. Here are Charlie’s thoughts on where the Arizona program is focusing, and how OptiMiser has helped.
Charlie Gohman is a specialist in residential energy conservation with over 27 years’ experience in related state and national programs. Charlie is currently Manager of FSL’s Arizona Home Performance with Energy Star Program. During 21 years with the Arizona Department of Commerce Energy Office, he served as the Manager of the Building Science and Efficiency section implementing DOE’s Low-Income Weatherization Program, affordable housing programs and residential efficiency programs for both new and existing buildings. Charlie is expert in residential diagnostics techniques, including pressure diagnostics, blower door, computer simulation and infrared photography.
Ryan: I would like to ask you how you got started with OptiMiser, how it fits into your program, and what it was like doing the initial implementation with us.
Charlie: We’re basically the one of first home performance program to implement the HPXML system. The reason behind that is that we’re trying to reduce the amount of time and money our contractors spend meeting program administrative needs, which include processing the data, all the rebate paperwork, and providing data from the energy model. The previous process was just really cumbersome and time consuming.
With the introduction of the HPXML process, we have seen a marked reduction in the time needed to process all the program data. We were also able to give contractors a choice of energy modeling tools. They could shop around and find the tool the best fit their needs. And that has worked. The contractors are really pleased with the new process. A secondary benefit is delinking the admin tool from the modeling tool. The old process was next to impossible to do at the kitchen table in one visit. It was just too cumbersome and time-consuming.
Ryan: Could you give us some information on how OptiMiser fits into what you’re trying to achieve?
Charlie: One of our main goals right now in our program is improving the conversion rate, the rate of people who actually have something done that improves the core performance of the home.
With the new tools, as contractors are gathering data, they’re also doing the modeling, so that they can provide a report of their assessment and proposals in one visit. It saves them both time and money. They don’t have to go out and visit the home again. We’ve seen an uptick with contractors who are doing it this way and increasing conversions. The key is that one-stop visit, having a tool that easily generates a comprehensive report and proposal.
That’s why the new assessment tools are so useful. The report generator in the old process we had wasn’t flexible. You couldn’t modify it at all; it was static. With the new reporting options that OptiMiser has, we’re seeing some contractors getting pretty fancy with it. Contractors are able to customize the report to meet their needs. The ability to include photos of the home being audited is a great addition to the process.
Also having the rebate forms embedded so that once the contractor puts data in, it transfers to the rebate form. Those are the little things that are helpful because, again, it saves the contractor time and money.
Ryan: The desert climate is a special situation when it comes to energy assessment. How did working with OptiMiser help you get better metrics, better numbers in that climate?
Charlie: OptiMiser had it pretty well taken care of right out of the gate as far as the ability to model homes in our climate. Take the shade screens: your program has the ability to model individual external shade screen per orientation. That’s a big deal in our desert climate. We were always pretty confident as far as your numbers go, and working with you was nice because you were always very responsive to questions, especially at the start. Also the support provided to our contractors was great. They all were new to your system and had many questions. To be honest I was pleased with how smoothly the process change went.
I think the biggest advantage we’ve seen is that the more sophisticated contractors here are selecting OptiMiser because it can do a fairly simple Wizard model, and also has the flexibility when we need to drill down into the details. These contractors can basically model what they need to model when they need to model it.