Energy Savings Doesn’t Sell… And Insulation Is Not Sexy!

Ranch SolarDid I get your attention? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that saving energy is not important, because it most definitely is. What I’m saying is it’s not the most important factor when a homeowner is making their investment decision.

How would you like a way to cut heating and cooling costs 100%? It’s simple really, just turn them OFF! Of course, nobody is going to do that, even though it is unarguably a strategy to save money. You see, there are things those homeowners loves even more than energy savings, COMFORT topping the list.

The top one or two primary reasons that drive homeowners to make HVAC system upgrades are either 1) their existing system broke down and either can’t be fixed and/or is too expensive to fix, or 2) their existing system is on its last legs and likely won’t make it another season. Improved efficiency is the cherry on top. After all, plenty of homeowners have lived with and continue to live every day with systems that don’t deliver ideal comfort efficiently, right? But, when that system breaks down and they’re left sweltering in a hot, humid or freezing in a frigid, cold house, now we’ve got their attention.

Modern, high-efficiency systems are very expensive, and often the payback isn’t compelling enough by itself to compete with other expenses the homeowner might have or be considering. Investing $15,000 into a top-notch HVAC system that saves $150/month in utility costs takes over 8-years to payback on energy savings alone. And, while that’s 12% ROI (return on investment) tax free, according to Zillow the average homeowner only stays in their home 7-years, making it a tough sell on just efficiency. Comparing their ROI from their new system to stock or bonds, just shoots right over the heads of most buyers too, because they’re normally not savvy investors “playing the markets” on a regular basis. In the field, sitting across dining room tables with clients, we usually see the “magic number” in the homeowner’s mind for payback at less than 5-years, which is a 20%+ ROI, based on some arbitrary whim, maybe even just because it’s easy math to run in their heads without moving their lips or using their fingers! Payback is emotion and often illogical.

On the other hand, as long as we’re speaking of ROI, what exactly is the return on investment on a better night’s sleep, a more enjoyable meal, relaxing all comfy-cozy to their favorite show, etc.? Comfort has an infinite ROI, so we need to focus their attention on what’s really important. Along similar lines, the actual dollars saved and/or those ROIs aren’t really all that meaningful all by themselves to many homeowners, at least not until we quantify them to something that’s actually important to them. People don’t always do what’s logically best for them, despite any evidence we can provide; otherwise everyone would buy the most efficient system possible, right?

For example, while $1800/year may not be life altering in or of itself, if the homeowners have school age children who may want to attend college some day, $1800/year for the next 7-years would help them save $12,600 towards little Johnnies education. Their kids’ education is way more compelling than the measly $34-35/week they might save on lower utilities.

For empty-nesters with all their kids grown-up and gone, maybe $1800/year could mean a couple of romantic weekend get-away’s or membership to the vacation club. Again, time spent together with their soul mate is worth way more than 30-something-bucks a week.

Maybe the monthly savings could actually even help make the payments on another home improvement project that’s competing with our HVAC upgrade. This could mean they don’t have to choose either/or, but can do both. Imagine getting the comfort their family deserves and that bathroom upgrade!

Whatever the situation, COMFORT is the #1 reason for investing in our HVAC solutions, not paybacks. In fact, focus on payback too much and we could actually cost ourselves sales, especially of higher end systems. Make it about the homeowners’ comfort and enjoyment of their home, combined with subsidizing their real interests and passions with the BUILT-IN SAVINGS, and now we’ve got something compelling to offer. Reframe payback into what’s truly important to the clients, and close more sales.


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