ACI Highlights

Posted by Pat Colburn on April 04, 2011
ACI Highlights

It was truly wonderful to talk with so many people I already knew, to meet others also working to make our industry a success and to attend some exciting sessions during last week’s ACI conference in San Francisco. The ACI staff did a great job of organizing and coordinating this large event with grace and attention to detail.

My biggest challenge was to determine which sessions to attend. I also wondered how I was going to last until 9 pm every night, but it was all so exciting, it never became an issue.

Contractors I spoke with are still having a difficult time selling energy upgrades, although it seems that remodeling is on the upswing.  While contractors may have all the proper certifications, it is apparent that many have inadequate training. And it’s not only about Combustion Safety Testing (CAZ = Combustion Appliance Zone). When a house tests out at 400 cfm after air sealing, duct sealing and insulation as one Verifier found recently, it’s a tell that more training is needed.

It’s also hard to sell something when you lack experience. It’s one thing to remodel a kitchen; it’s quite another to convince a skeptical homeowner, use sophisticated equipment, analyze data, diagnose symptoms, and implement proper solutions. Program implementers need to provide more free or low cost mentoring so contractors will be able to sell with the confidence that comes with highly developed skills. After all, the program success depends on job success.

Merrian Fuller spoke eloquently at Tuesday’s Summit on driving motivation. Here are a few of her key points:

  • Social norms are significant decision drivers (keeping up with the neighbors).
  • People are more sensitive to losses than gains.
  • People are biased toward maintaining status quo.
  • People feel overloaded by too many choices (remember the KISS principal).
  • People assume they’re performing better than the average and they’re doing all they can. 
  • Word of mouth is most important.
  • Use words that resonate such as “miles per gallon.”

Merrian led the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in developing “Driving Demand for Home Energy Improvements” (Sept 2010), which examines 30 years of energy efficiency programs targeting the residential market. Read the full report here.

 Following are a few highlights from “Driving Demand….”.

  • High home energy use is not currently a pressing issue for many people; find a more appealing draw such as health, comfort, energy security, competition, or community engagement to attract interest.
  • A blanket marketing campaign to reach “everyone” will likely be ineffective and expensive. Find and target your messages to your specific audience.
  • One touch is not enough The advertising industry’s “three-time convincer” concept means that the majority of people need to be exposed to a product message at least three times before they buy into it.
Stay tuned for more ACI highlights later this week.

Pat Colburn, formerly Director of Support Services for the CBPCA, also has a background in project management, lighting retrofits and solid waste/recycling.

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