The contractor is the key. Just ask my mom and dad.

The contractor is the key. Just ask my mom and dad.

My parents learned two weeks ago that their 19-year-old furnace was on its last legs. During a routine check, the furnace repairman noticed high levels of carbon monoxide leaking inside the unit. Eventually, the carbon monoxide would have found its way into their home and started causing some nasty problems.

Since energy efficiency and sustainability is my business, I told them to check with their local gas company to see if any rebates were available. They hadn’t heard about any, and it turns out the local gas company wasn’t offering anything.

A salesman from the company that does their annual maintenance came over, and talked with them about their options. Their old furnace was only 80% efficient, so my mom and dad chose a 95.5% efficient model – the most efficient one the contractor offered, and added an air purifier and humidifier as well. They chose that model because they wanted to lower their energy bills and help protect the environment.

He told them about the federal tax credits (which they already knew about) and brought them the necessary paperwork. He told them to keep their thermostat at current levels to save energy. And he showed them how to use the new digital and programmable thermostat they installed.

The contractor was their main source of information about what unit to purchase, what rebates and incentives were available and how best to use their new equipment.

They didn’t go to a big box home improvement store. They didn’t look on the web. They didn’t ask their friends. They asked Tim.

And they’re not the exception to the rule. If utility companies and HVAC companies want to reach consumers at the point of replacement, spend some serious time and energy getting contractors on your side. Give them the tools and information they need to pass along to their customers. Give them incentives for doing so. And give consumers a chance to learn what they need to know at the time they need to know it.

About the Author

Karen Barnes

Karen is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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