I'm a real estate broker that became certified as BPI building analyst to provide energy audits for my clients when buying a home.  Since then I have expanded into providing home ratings for my sellers that have taken the time and investment to improve the energy efficiency of their home and it has rewarded my real estate business ten fold. I'm thinking about taking it a step further and become a HERS rater but want to see if there is additional income possibilities if I move forward with that step.

I'm curious though for those of you that are energy auditors and home raters, where is there a viable business model for energy audits?  Is it pursuing home performance work with air sealing, HVAC, insulation or are there individuals/companies out there that perform energy audits and home ratings for architects, builders, contractors, etc and make a nice income strictly on the rating side of the business?

Thanks in advance.

Rob

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  • Great post Rob.  I'm glad to see your business is doing well auditing clients' homes!  I think you'd have to ask yourself if the fees equate to best time spent vs. earning commissions.  It's great to be able to offer the service, but will it take away from your client base selling homes?  All the best to you!

  • Rob - before you do the RESNET training for extra income check to see the services provided by your local utility providers.  I did the course and audits is 1999 and both of my local electric providers offered the RESNET certification free shortly thereafter.  I learned from the course content so it was not a waste of time but not income producing.  

  • We divide the business into 2 parts - energy audits with retrofits, and new home airsealing with perhaps 50% getting a rating for Energy Star or other reasons.  

    I think that ratings on an existing house are a non-starter right now because there is nothing you can do with them that generates income for anyone.  We have tried to get the real estate business (mid-Atlantic region) to accept documented energy efficiency as a boost for appraisals, but even my own new house with a HERS 44 and 24 with solar got only "best" in all the categories.  State of Maryland is the highest potential for this in the near future of anywhere we work.

    New homes are another matter.  We have several builders building 100+ houses a year in the 45-52 HERS range.  The two biggest (one is 300+ per year) don't bother with Energy Star any more.  They all market it heavily with very good success.

    If you want to save a lot energy and make some money in the process, you have to get affiliated with a state or utility audit/retrofit program, and in new housing you have to find a couple of larger builders that believe in what you are doing.

    Some have been able to make money going after the high-end client and charging big bucks, but that seemed like a hard row to hoe to us.  

    It ain't easy to keep a lot of balls in the air, but like any other business, if you can't sell it, then you don't get to do it, so get a trained sales department going.

    Good luck

  • There is huge money in asking the homeowner if they want more info on energy saving solar power. Give me their name, I make the sale, I send you $1000 or more. And don't forget whole house fans - they slash the cost of solar so they come for free. See http://www.invisco.com

    • If realtors accepted any type of referral fee for work done by another party, they'd have to create an Addendum stipulating the company and have every client sign it. I've been offered fees from window companies, solar companies, HVAC companies, even security companies.  I don't accept those referral offers. It's best to tell clients and companies that we refer for the best work, not on the pretense of accepting fees. 

    • We can't use whole house fans in a hot humid climate

  • I live in a smaller town and the saving grace is that the community is very energy efficiency/conservation minded. I currently only do audits but am looking to self perform for air sealing and insulation as I come from a WAP (Weatherization Assistance Program) background. Bottom line is that you have to diversify your offerings to your area and community in order to stay busy for your main source of income. Audits alone could also be a good side gig for somebody if that's all they're looking for.

  • I make a living with a stand alone audit/rating business. The three areas of focus include Code compliance for jurisdictions in my area, Green certifications for multi-family housing projects and low income tax credit work for the state of Kansas/Missouri. Homeowner work is basically non-existent. As more jurisdictions adopt the energy codes business increases. Get certified (RESNET-Energy Star- NGBS) Talk to code officials, join the local HBA and establish credibility with those groups. Work to get the Energy Code adopted in your area.

    • Hay Bruce -  I feed off some of your leads.  I make a living doing HVAC/ building science/ CO / IAQ   -  I am looking for true friendlys to increase my business.  80-95% of realtor/loan closer will  kill energy codes.

      • @Eric, please elaborate re: "80-90% of realtor/loan closer will kill energy codes"

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