How Aggregating Consumer Energy Rebates Will Motivate Action in Home Improvement
Walter “Tony” Maull is an energy industry insider who has gone rogue. He ran Ernst & Young’s clean and renewable energy consulting practice. Maull saw that potential energy industry savings offers were languishing. Now Maull and a world class team of programmers and energy analysts have created a hyper local consumer media site for energy cost savings called Save Big Bread (“bread” is the retro word for money!).
“This is a consumer media play,” said Maull, “and I want a total focus on consumer information and rebates. We aggregate information across many sources. So whether a consumer is seeking energy efficiency or making a home improvement, we want to connect them all the way through the process.”
His new venture, Save Big Bread, www.savebigbread.com makes its money democratically. It provides permission-based details on consumer requests for quotes to HVAC contractors, appliance installers and energy distributors for a small fee of $45 per interested party.
“Contractors and utilities all want to be closer to the customer,” noted Maull. “We only get compensated if we perform and now have over 7,000 offers in the program to connect energy-conscious consumers with green-energy contractors.”
Save Big Bread is hyper-local, localized to state and counties, because it has to be. First, the offers are utility, state rebates or local like PACE. Second, the contractors who can offer the private industry discounts from companies like Rheem, Carrier, Trane and others under Energy Star are regional.
Home improvement is a $240 billion market. Contractors are the largest employers in the U.S. Linking the two is a natural outgrowth of Save Big Bread’s raison d’etre. Maull said that over three fourths of his queries and contractor partnerships are for total HVAC or system replacements.
Save Big Bread actively builds tools that allow it to catalog and track changes to a variety of rebate programs, constantly update, and makesure they’re reflected in the customer data in a timely basis.
Customers can search offers that are relevant to them. Maull and his team have also reviewed the information so that he can guide peopletoward single, double or triple savings by coupling rebatesacross multiple rebates.
Le-Ha Anderson, manager of communications at Dominion Virginia Power, agrees that “consumers are absolutely looking for saving more money on their energy consumption”
“Information is coming at them from many different places,” says Anderson. “Energy tips are great and consumers want the education.” She knows that sites like Save Big Bread that provide “value and a way to find coupons or rebate information”
“Green is a major part of why people want these rebates and our consumers at Dominion are taking personal responsibility,” said Anderson.
In Virginia, consumers have options ranging from local government energy advisory groups, a Virginia state corporation council (SCC) site with energy efficiency funding, as well as contractors, Dominion partners and appliance makers. It’s a lot to navigate. “Trust is very important,” for consumer rebates.
Dominion is working with LEAP and this week it will launch a new “Home Energy Makeover” program. Like a reality show, consumers/ratepayers can enter plans to save consumption and may earn $500 in energy audits immediately. Then, in September and October, LEAP will select some of the best efficiencies presentations for a total smart “consumer energy makeover.” The money is for real: $10,000 for the winner, $5,000 for second place and $3,000 for third place Dominion’s spokeswoman told me.
Dominion is one of the largest producers and transporters of energy: www.dom.com
Mike Smith is a Washington area energy blogger with his own energy and environmental marketing business, MSBD, Inc. (www.msbdinc.com). Clients include the non-profit National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (www.nfwf.org) for Chesapeake Restoration and have been industry players like Volvo North America.