The BPI office will be closed from Monday, December 26 to Friday, December 30 for the holidays. The office will reopen on Monday, January 2, 2017.
Do you want to be featured on the future new BPI pros website? BPI wants to feature you and your work on the new website! Please send high resolution/quality images of your team doing home performance work to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. It's great press for your company - your information will be featured with the image!
Thank you to those who took the E4theFuture survey! BPI had a great response rate and this information will be helpful in furthering the home performance industry.
Check out the new and improved Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) website! On the website you will find enhanced tools and resources to better guide homeowners down a pathway to improved comfort and utility bill savings. Check out this recorded webinar for a tour of the website. Included are infographics, statistics, an interactive house, and co-brandable project flyers you can use to sell your home performance jobs.
Many states loosened their medicinal and recreational marijuana laws this election cycle, creating more opportunities for HVAC contractors in the ventilation and moisture control aspects of the growth facilities.
HPC released its Policymaker's Guide to Incorporating Existing Homes into Carbon Reduction Strategies and Clean Power Plan Compliance, outlining ways that existing homes are a key aspect to carbon reduction strategies.
Learn how to design an ideal duct system with fittings that allow for smooth airflow delivery in this article.
Watch how to properly construct an airtight dropped soffit to house mechanical equipment or can lights within the building envelope in this video.
About the Author
Quinn is the Senior Communications Associate for BPI. Would you like to write articles to engage homeowners about home performance? Contact Quinn to contribute to BPI's Homeowner Blog.
Google Answer Boxes Now in the Home Performance Industry
By Dan Paradee
You may have noticed a recent trend in search results: rather than give you a link to a website, Google is increasingly answering the question right in the search results. We saw this many times during election searches, sports score queries, and now, it is even showing up in the home performance industry.
Google's Answer Boxes anticipate what you're looking to get out of your search query, find the best result from some tidbit of information from a different site, and present the information right on the search results page.
Answer Boxes in the Home Performance Industry
Answer Box-producing queries we've seen include:
"Air conditioner prices"
"What is the stack effect?"
"What is spray foam insulation?"
"What is IAQ?"
"What is home performance?"
Let's examine the search "air barrier." This is a common term used in the insulation or building industry, but maybe not so common for the average homeowner. If a homeowner hears that term during an insulation job, they may Google it to find more information.
Before the emergence of Answer Boxes, searchers would have had to click through to sites like buildingscience.com or Wikipedia. But now, the searchers immediately see an Answer Box on Google that displays a quick summary of air barriers (provided by buildingscience.com).
This benefits Google, because people stay on their site. It benefits the searcher, because it negates the need for them to scroll through long articles to find a short answer. Building Science Corporation benefits from the "prestige" of being the best answer, but the downside is they are deprived of the valuable web traffic from the searcher.
So, how can you get your website content ready for a conversational world?
The best way to ready your website for Google's changes is to provide content that users are searching for and make it easy for them to find. Start your air sealing page with a very straightforward explanation of what air sealing is and why people need it. If you write for your customers, Google will reward you.
Take the time to read through a few of your top landing pages. If the content provided is what you have found your customers want to hear, great! If the writing is unclear or is stuffed with keywords, it might be time for a rewrite with the customer in mind.
How To Show Up In An Answer Box
We're not offering a guarantees here, but why not do everything you can to increase the chance you'll show up in an Answer Box? These five tips will also help with your site's overall SEO and visitor engagement:
Make sure your website uses responsive design - so that it works across all devices.
Optimize your site with proper keywords, acquire plenty of backlinks, and use conversion-centric design so when users search for terms related to your company, your site displays on the first page of Google, or early on the second.
On your individual service pages, write one or two conversational sentences that answer a fundamental question about your service in a concise, to-the-point way (i.e. What is air sealing?).
Make sure your targeted search terms (like "What is air sealing?") are tagged as Heading 1, or H1, to enhance its SEO value. If your answer copy is a how-to, provide clear, numbered steps (like "3 Steps for Insulating My Attic").
Check your site's analytics to ensure metrics like bounce rate, page duration, and pages per visit are favorable and that your changes have enhanced page performance; a high-performing page is much more likely to be drawn into an Answer Box than is a poorly-performing one.
You may think that small companies will struggle to win these Answer Box spaces when competing against major websites like Wikipedia or Building Science. But don't give up hope, because we're seeing evidence that it's possible. Congratulations to Building Performance Group, a KY contractor, that has reigned for several years on the query, "What is Home Performance?"
About the Author
Dan Paradee, Digital Marketing Account Manager at Energy Circle, implements ongoing SEO and content marketing strategies for various clients.
Saying "No" the Right Way
By Steve Coscia
Every service and sales professional faces the same dilemma on whether customers contact them via telephone, walk in to their establishment, or correspond in writing.
It is not driven by malice or deceit. Most often it is simply the natural progression of the sales and service process. Your transaction is moving ahead smoothly when the customer stops to ask a question about the product, service, or company policies.
You would prefer to say "Yes," or "Certainly, our product can do that," or "I can ship it today," but these answers might not be truthful. The quandary of which I write is about saying no - the right way.
Saying "No" might make you feel unpopular. Conveying seemingly bad news to someone might also bring to an end all of the goodwill that you have been creating while attempting to negotiate a sale or provide a service.
Regardless of how a service professional might feel personally about having to say "No" to a customer, sometimes it has to happen. What separates the seasoned professionals from amateurs in the sales and service business is the manner in which they handle this situation.
The concept of knowing how to say "No" begins with an adherence to the fundamental principle of saying what you can do rather than what you can NOT do. When a service professional conveys what they can do, it keeps the proverbial door open so that the dialogue with the customer may continue as can their business relationship.
One of my clients has, with a simple phrase, heightened their service vernacular and the satisfaction of their customers. That phrase is: Here's what I can do. This axiom is posted in the workstation of each of their customer service representatives, to keep it at the forefront of their mind. It produces two key benefits: (1) it keeps the door open and (2) it gives the service representative something to say while he thinks creatively about how to respond to customer demands.
When it comes to keeping customers satisfied and the door of business opportunities open, taking a little time to respond with what your company CAN do may make all the difference.
About the Author
Steve Coscia is one of the most widely published and quoted authorities in trade publications on the topics of customer service and soft skills.
Stump the Chump
Let's Play Stump the Chump!
So many great, in depth responses to last month's stumper!
Congratulations to Shawn LeMons of Sustainably Built in Boulder, Colorado for providing the closest answer.
As a reminder, last month's stumper came from David Byrnes of Green ID in Phoenix, Arizona. An all electric, 1700 sq ft home in Phoenix, AZ was recently built in 2008. The summer and winter temperatures are kept at 78 degrees and 68 degrees and 2 people live in the house.
What would be the cause of a $450 energy bill in July?
Shawn says, "Based on the information given, the water heater circulation pump is delivering very expensive heat into the house whenever it cycles. The upside (not really) is that the heat probably doesn't run much in the winter! Overall, I would guess that the water heater is costing them in the neighborhood of $1400 - $1700 a year to operate."
David simply stated that the pricey bills were as a result of "the re-circulation pump on the water heater set 'ON' 24-7."
Thank you to all who sent in responses.
Let's Play December's Stump the Chump!
This month's stumper comes from a couple living in a 1,150 square foot 1930s Cape with a warm air furnace in Keene, NH. The house contains a bare dirt floor basement with a single layer of gravel on top.
Although the home seems like a straightforward case of comfort, the couple suffered through a miserable winter. The kitchen was always too cold, the bedroom too hot, and all of the air coming out of the vents smelled terrible.
What's up with that?
Send us your answer to this month's stumper! Email email@example.com to enter to win the contest, and be featured in the next issue of BPI's Performance Matters.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION! Each month's Stump the Chump challenge will be featured as a topic on BPI's discussion page on Home Energy Pros, the home performance industry's very own social networking site. To send your answer there, and discuss with other Stump the Chump fans, simply visit BPI's discussion page and click on the right-hand 'Sign Up' box to create a profile, then add your comment.