By John Egan, for E Source, March, 2010
Utilities, government entities, efficiency organizations, and civic volunteer groups are working together in some areas to provide neighborhood energy sweeps, also known as energy blitzes, as a way to rapidly capture energy savings in homes. Some time ago, when energy prices were high, energy sweeps were used to provide direct installation of energy-saving measures such as compact fluorescent lamps; low-flow showerheads; weather stripping; and air sealing around doors, windows, and pipes. Such initiatives were typically deployed in low-income homes and funded by government grants. However, as support for conservation waned, interest in neighborhood sweeps also decreased.
But energy sweeps are making a comeback, and utilities and community groups are taking their first steps to deploying these programs in moderate- and upper-income neighborhoods. Having volunteers install these measures directly in homes can overcome the traditional homeowner confusion and paralysis that often follows an energy audit.
Practitioners are learning that there may be some new challenges as they try to move into neighborhoods with a variety of income levels. Messaging will be different. Outreach tactics may need to change. But some truths remain the same: Keep the messaging simple, make the installations easy, choose your partners wisely, and don’t overlook the low cost and high effectiveness of low-tech marketing tactics such as yard signs and face-to-face interaction on homeowners’ doorsteps. These approaches will increase your marketing return while also improving a utility’s customer satisfaction and its reputation with customers.
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