How to Help Your Clients Reduce Their Energy Bills

As a real estate agent, it is important for you to add value for your clients before, during, and after a transaction. Showing your clients that you are an expert in various facets of the business and still care about them as they settle into their new home can help you build great rapport.

After making a large investment, such as buying a new home, your clients may be looking for ways to reduce their spending in other areas of their life. Offer your help by providing suggestions on how they can lessen the cost of their utilities in their new home.

One of the most effective things your clients can do to achieve this is to reduce the amount of energy and water they use. To determine what steps they should take to do so, recommend they schedule an energy audit of their home. Their new house will be inspected and evaluated for energy performance, or lack thereof, and the auditor will identify weaknesses in the home’s efficiencies and how to best fix them. During this energy audit, the auditor may test for the following:

Air Leaks. Leaks in the house can be identified by performing a blower door test. A large fan is mounted to the frame of the front door and the entire home is shored up, including windows, doors, and more. The fan then pulls air out of the house, causing the interior air pressure to lower. The higher air pressure outside the home will flow through any unsealed cracks and gaps. This test helps locate those leaks so they can be sealed to better control the temperature in the home. A new home may “leak” the air volume of approximately 0.5 times per hour. In older homes, leaking rates can be as high as 12 times per hour, which requires more energy output from the HVAC system and increases draftiness in the home.

Poor Insulation. Most building codes did not include requirements for insulation until the 1990s. Infrared images will reveal the weakest insulation areas in the walls and attic without costly exploration. Common weak points are the few inches around window encasements, open ventilation points, older vaulted ceilings, and the corners of the attic.

Combustion Safety. Open pilot lights will soon be a thing of the past. During the audit, the auditor will inspect combustion appliances and mechanics for safety. This is especially important once the amount of air leakage is reduced, as your clients will now be breathing the same air inside the home for longer.

Once the energy audit is complete, your clients will have a great understanding of which home improvements can be made immediately and easily and which require more expertise and investment. The next step is determining goals for any work performed, how to fund the repairs, and which contractor(s) to hire.

If your clients are looking to take the energy efficiency of their new home to the next level, they can also consider the following options:

Consumer Awareness. The most effective way to reduce total cost of utilities is to become aware of personal energy consumption. A few tweaks to your clients’ habits can result in a significant reduction to their utility bills. Suggest a few simple changes to their every day energy usage habits, such as setting back the thermostat when they leave the house, turning off lights in rooms they are not using, turning off unused parts of their entertainment center, and opening or shutting windows as the seasons change.

Smart Home Technology. Creating new habits can be challenging and may not be considered fun. But you know what is fun? Buying new toys! If the goal is to reduce energy usage without changing their lifestyle, your clients can also consider investing in some smart home devices. There are smart home devices and/or apps for just about everything that goes in a house. These devices can help reduce consumption and can be easily controlled through most smart phones. Suggest your clients look into the benefits of devices like the Nest Thermostat, Homey, Tado Cooling, Amazon Alexa, and more. Many of these devices can sync with the lighting, heating and cooling system, sprinklers, window blinds, and more in your clients’ home. From there it only takes a few clicks on the corresponding app to water the grass, turn on and off the lights, or set the temperature in the home.

Gamification. If your clients are competitive by nature, they will love this option for lowering their utility bills. The Nest Thermostat offers gamification between households, as well as against previous personal use. Also, some utility companies are now comparing the use between neighbors and letting the winners and losers know where they stand. Encourage your clients to find a way to make reducing energy usage fun!

By staying invested in your clients’ happiness and well-being after the papers are signed and lending a helping hand in reaching their goal, you will leave a lasting impression. Your clients will be more likely to give you a referral or keep you in mind for any real estate needs they may have in the future!

James Welch Mitchell was born and raised in Texas and found his way to Fort Collins, CO, 10 years ago. This relocation was inspired by a love for the mountains that was created at an outdoor adventure summer camp in Steamboat Springs, CO. It is this same love for our natural environment that helped James shift his awareness to the vast opportunity in the real estate industry (aka, the built environment) and ways to make homes simply need less energy. Not only will the environment benefit from this work, but also our local communities and their economies. James believes that every home can easily take simple steps toward needing less energy, and together, we shall change the world. Lastly, James is a Leo and loves banana ice cream.

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