News and Updates

Energy Upgrade California Home Upgrade Newsletter - Southern California

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dear Participating Contractor,

Customer Service: "the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase."

As a Participating Contractor in Energy Upgrade California® Home Upgrade in the Southern California Edison (SCE) and SoCalGas® service territories, you are part of a small, elite group of professionals who have the knowledge and skills to help your customers achieve their energy efficiency goals and live a more comfortable lifestyle in their homes. You are the face of the program, representing the thousands of individuals who support the program statewide, from utility sponsors and program implementers to distributors and other product vendors. The type of Customer Service you provide can mean the difference between an unhappy customer and a customer who is happy to tell their friends, family and neighbors about their experience working with you.

As shown above, Customer Service is all about providing a positive experience - not just while you are in the customer's home performing upgrades, but as you are closing the sale and even after the work is complete.

Did you know that the program sends customers a brief Customer Satisfaction Survey after the project is completed and the incentive check is distributed? The questions ask about their experience with their Participating Contractor - and we receive a lot of positive feedback! Take a look at the questions we ask your customers and consider these topics as you interact with homeowners before, during and after projects are completed. The Customer Satisfaction Survey can be an important part of closing a sale - share the positive feedback from your former customers with the customers you're serving now and in the future.

If the customer agrees to share the results of their survey with their Participating Contractor, the results will be presented in their dashboard.Take time to review your completed projects and any associated Customer Satisfaction Survey results.  

We also strive to provide excellent Customer Service to YOU! As always, please contact your Account Manager any time if you need assistance with the program. We are here to help!

Program Participation Updates and Reminders

Change to Thermostatic Control Valve (TCV) Requirements:

Effective April 1, 2015, TCVs are no longer a required measure but are still highly recommended for additional savings. TCVs have served an important role in reducing gas and water usage (in the SoCalGas Program alone we have saved more than 9 million gallons of water since program inception); however, due to difficulties in their installation in certain vintages of homes, we have decided to make them optional. Please continue to install when possible and report their installation, as they still provide significant energy and water savings.

Software Options for Advanced Home Upgrade

As of April 27, 2015, four new energy modeling programs are being accepted for job submission in the Energy Upgrade California Home Upgrade Program in the SCE/SoCalGas and SoCalGas service territories. 

The four new modeling software programs are:

When selecting your preferred modeling software, make sure to verify that the software suits your needs and program requirements. If you have any questions regarding the capabilities of the new software programs, please contact the software vendor's sales team. Contact information is available in the Software Comparison Guide. Links to all software vendors are available in the View Resources section of the program website.

WebApp Update

Version 4.1 of the WebApp will release on June 1, 2015. This release includes the following updates to both SCE/SoCalGas and SoCalGas programs:

  • Update to the Long Beach Gas & Oil gas provider, gas service account number to reflect 10 digits instead of nine
  • Addition of a new Home Upgrade Gas Storage DHW at 0.70 EF (45 points)
  • Addition of a "Notice of Field Identified Recommendations" option

SoCalGas Program Updates

Home Upgrade Completion Certificates: SoCalGas is pleased to announce the development of a new customer completion certificate for SoCalGas/municipal utility projects. Your customers will receive a Home Upgrade and SoCalGas-branded certificate that includes your contact information, project start and completion dates and a brief listing of the home performance improvements made in the home. This certificate will provide your customers with an added value that can be included in house documents should the homeowner ever decide to sell the residence. Certificates will be distributed via mail along with the thank-you letter that customers already receive once their incentive payment has been processed.

Thermostatic Control Valves (TCVs): As noted above, TCVs are no longer required but are highly recommended. Please see the notification above; the same information applies to SoCalGas-only projects.

Home Energy Advising Service: The SoCalGas-funded Home Energy Advising Service is a complimentary resource for homeowners interested in making their homes more efficient and comfortable while taking advantage of financial incentives from programs like Home Upgrade. Contractors can also use this service to help guide customers or explain home performance. Contractors and customers can reach a Home Energy Advisor by calling (888) 382-2925 and get objective help with selecting a qualified contractor, navigating incentive programs, reviewing estimates, and finding financing options. And all of the advice is objective and complimentary! Home Energy Advising is currently available in the territories shared by SoCalGas and municipal utilities.

WebApp Update: Version 4.1 of the WebApp, to release on June 1, 2015, will feature the following updates for the SoCalGas program

  • We are excited to roll out the HVAC On-Ramp Program. This program will allow HVAC contractors, who primarily complete HVAC system change-outs, to gain entry into the energy efficiency market through simplified forms and processes. The WebApp will guide you through the HVAC On-Ramp Program based on the measures you select when submitting your project. Participating HVAC Contractors will be able to obtain additional Home Performance training through our complimentary technical training courses.
  •  We are also happy to announce a new approach to test-in and test-out requirements that we call Testing by Measure. This program is intended to align testing requirements with the measures being installed to reduce unnecessary testing (see table for Testing by Measure requirements). The Testing by Measure program will be in effect until December 31, 2015, and will be used to assess any impacts that more streamlined testing may have on project costs and program success. We would love to get feedback on this once you start using it in the Gas Only territory!
  • Removal of the current SoCalGas Clothes Washers Stand Alone measures and adding the following three SoCalGas Clothes Washers for a one-stop full service option to customers on the SoCalGas HU application:
    • Higher Efficiency ENERGY STAR® Certified Clothes Washer - Must be certified to ENERGY STAR's current (2015) specifications - $50
    • ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2015 Clothes Washer - Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF) of 2.74 or greater AND Integrated Water Factor (IWF) of 3.2 or less - $75
    • Cold Water Clothes Washer Whirlpool Cold Water Technology Washer (Model Number WTW4715EW) - $200

QC Corner

Quality Control (QC) is an important aspect of overall customer service provided by the program's sponsors. QC is also a service to you, the Participating Contractor, as it helps ensure that your customers are totally satisfied with the work performed in their homes. See below for updates from our QC team regarding some recent revisions to certain program guidelines.

Existing Non-Conforming Conditions

Participating Contractors are no longer required to correct (but must advise about) existing non-conforming conditions that are not associated with the contracted scope of work. Exceptions apply as described below.

Non-Conforming Conditions that Require Advisory Only:

  • Existing insulation (attic or floor) in contact with the following heat producing devices (HPDs): recessed light fixture(s), exposed fluorescent fixture(s), doorbell transformer(s), fan motor(s), electric appliance(s) (e.g. water heaters and furnaces), natural gas and LPG furnace(s), natural gas and LPG water heater(s), masonry chimney(s) fueled by natural gas or LPG, combustion appliance vent stack(s), and any other device that produces heat.
  • Bathroom, kitchen or any other exhaust fan(s) that do not vent to the outside.

When a non-conforming/advisory-only condition is identified, the Participating Contractor must complete the following steps:

  1. Recommend corrections to the homeowner and have them sign a Notice of Field Identified Recommendations which documents that they are aware of the pre-existing non-conforming condition.
  2. Upload the Notice of Field Identified Recommendations signed by the homeowner to VisionDSM.
  3. Document existing non-conforming conditions in the Advisory Conditions section of VisionDSM and/or the WebApp.

Exceptions/Conditions that Require Correction:

  • Attic or floor insulation in contact with HPDs requires correction if included in the scope of work.
  • Insulation or other combustible material in contact with an HPD requires correction if charring or any other immediate hazard is present.
  • Exhaust fans that do not vent to the outside require correction when attic insulation, air sealing, or window replacement are included in the scope of work. These fans also require correction if post-retrofit building air leakage is <.35 ACH, and if whole-house mechanical ventilation is installed.
Duct Testing for Home Upgrade and Advanced Home Upgrade
  • For Home Upgrade projects, Participating Contractors have the option to use Total Leakage as the universal test method, but a CF3R must be submitted and the testing results must meet Home Upgrade duct leakage requirements.
  • For Advanced Home Upgrade projects, Participating Contractors will use the duct test method required by the modeling software selected for project energy modeling:
    • CakeSystems: Leakage to Outside
    • EnergyPro: Leakage to Outside
    • Optimiser: Leakage to Outside
    • SnuggPro: Leakage to Outside
    • Treat: Total Leakage

Current Promotions

Free Lighting Products: Up to $300 in select lighting products are available for Home Upgrade jobs of 150 points or more. Just enter American Lighting or WaltersLighting in the promo code area. Review the side-by-side comparison of the products by American and Walters along with directions on how to participate, and contact your account manager with any questions.

Distributor Discounts:

Visit the Distributor Discounts Page for more information on the numerous discounts available from our distributor partners. Please note: you must be logged in to the contractor website to view this page. 

Upcoming Events and Training Opportunities

Technical Training

June 9, 2015

8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

This is an excellent opportunity to refresh your skills, or to provide new employees with the technical knowledge they need to support Home Upgrade projects. Topics will include:

  • Financing - Statewide CAELFTA
  • Program Enhancements
  • Title 24 Program Changes
  • Program Appeals
  • Existing Non-Conforming Issues

BPI Building Analyst Training - 

only six spots left for this course!

June 15 - 23, 2015

This course is for those wishing to earn BPI Certification and/or participate in Energy Upgrade California programs, including Home Upgrade. Access to training materials is immediate and both BPI Building Analyst and Building Envelope Professional materials are included. Learn more about this course and register online at the ECG International website.

Energy Modeling 101: Energy Pro v5

June 26, 2015, July 10, 2015, and August 14, 2015

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Please join us for this informative energy modeling workshop and learn how to start a new EnergyPro v5 model from field inspection details!

Register Here

Hands-On Training: Combustion Safety Testing

July 14, 2015

 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Join the Home Upgrade team to learn how to perform Combustion Safety Testing. Classes limited to ten attendees - reserve your spot today! The address for the class will be provided after successful registration for the event.

AM Registration

PM Registration

Project Processing Training

July 21, 2015

8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

SoCalGas Energy Resource Center

Register Here

BPI BA Re-Certification Written Exam

August 11, 2015

12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

SoCalGas Energy Resource Center

Register Here

Marketing Updates

SoCalGas Marketing

On May 21, SoCalGas distributed a marketing email to nearly 2 million customers throughout its service area promoting Home Upgrade! The email provides an overview of the program's benefits and encourages customers to contact a Participating Contractor.

Marketing Materials

Don't forget that trifold brochures and infographic rack cards are available through the SCE/SoCalGas and SoCalGas-only programs! You can download print-ready files on the View Resources page; in addition, limited quantities of printed materials are available to Participating Contractors free of charge. Ask your Account Manager for details!

Marketing Tip

Remember that good customer service is the best form of marketing! When you complete a project and the customer is thrilled with your work, they'll tell their neighbors, family and friends. Consider leaving business cards or referral cards with your customers who can help spread the word about the excellent service you provide as a Participating Contractor! >

Ask the QC Team!

Have a tricky question you can't answer or a problem that keeps coming up on your projects? Ask our QC Team! Email us with any questions you would like to see addressed in future newsletters.

Version 4.1 of the WebApp Coming Soon!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

WebApp Updates Coming Monday!

Southern California Edison (SCE) and SoCalGas® have modified the Energy Upgrade California® Home Upgrade WebApp. Version 4.1 of the WebApp, to release on June 1, 2015, will feature the following updates:

SoCalGas Only Program WebApp Updates

  • We are excited to roll out the HVAC On-Ramp Program. This program will allow HVAC contractors, who primarily complete HVAC system change-outs, to gain entry into the energy efficiency market through simplified forms and processes. The WebApp will guide you through the HVAC On-Ramp Program based on the measures you select when submitting your project. Participating HVAC Contractors will be able to obtain additional Home Performance training through our complimentary technical training courses. 
  • We are also happy to announce a new approach to test in and test out requirements that we call Testing by Measure. This program is intended to align testing requirements with the measures being installed to reduce unnecessary testing (see table in email for Testing by Measure requirements). The Testing by Measure program will be in effect until December 31, 2015 and will be used to assess any impact that more streamlined testing may have on project costs and program success. We would love to get feedback on this when you start using it in the Gas Only territory!   
  • Removal of the current SoCalGas Clothes Washers Stand Alone measures and adding the following three SoCalGas Clothes Washers for a one-stop, full-service option to customers on the SoCalGas Home Upgrade application: 
    • Higher Efficiency ENERGY STAR® Certified Clothes Washer - Must be certified to ENERGY STAR's current (2015) specifications - $50
    • ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2015 Clothes Washer - Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF) of 2.74 or greater AND Integrated Water Factor (IWF) of 3.2 or less - $75
    • Cold Water Clothes Washer Whirlpool Cold Water Technology Washer (Model Number WTW4715EW) - $200

 

This release also includes the following minor updates to both SCE/SoCalGas and SoCalGas Only programs:

  • Update to the Long Beach Gas & Oil gas provider, gas service account number to reflect 10 digits instead of nine
  • Addition of a new Home Upgrade Gas Storage DHW at 0.70 EF (45 points)
  • Addition of a "Notice of Field Identified Recommendations" option (learn more about this in QC Corner in the upcoming program newsletter!)

Post-Retrofit Submission Feature is Here!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Post-Retrofit Submission Feature is Here!

Southern California Edison (SCE) and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas®) are proud to announce that the new post-retrofit submission feature on the Energy Upgrade California® Home Upgrade WebApp has launched!

The WebApp will allow Participating Contractors to submit post-retrofit project information! The program team listened to all of the comments and suggestions, and we are excited that this program improvement will help speed up post-retrofit project submissions.

Come join us for a closer look at the Post-Retrofit submission process during any of the offered webinars.

                                     

Pre-Retrofit Quality Control Verifications

After careful review of the pre-retrofit information that Participating Contractors have submitted to date, SCE and SoCalGas have found that the majority of Participating Contractors have consistently and accurately documented pre-retrofit conditions. In order to help streamline our processes, SCE and SoCalGas will discontinue random pre-retrofit quality control verifications as of May 1, 2015. Exceptions will apply if the data supplied appears abnormal or is out of the normal data range.

 

New SoCalGas Incentive Application Forms Released!

New Incentive Reservations and Application Forms (Version 8) for the SoCalGas and SoCalGas/Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) are now available for download. The new forms include all program requirements for Home Upgrade and Advanced Home Upgrade for the 2015 program cycle! These new documents  can be used immediately on all in-process projects and will be required effective Monday, June 1, 2015, for all new project submittals.

 

Witness QC Requests

With the launch of the Post Retrofit submission feature, contractors can now request Witness QC inspections through the WebApp! A new "Action" has been added to the View Submitted Projects screen to allow selection of Witness QC. When the Witness QC action is selected, the QC vendor is notified and will coordinate with the contractor (through VisionDSM). As before, the Participating Contractor is expected to supply all testing equipment and conduct all tests under the supervision of the QC vendor. This will avoid the need for a separate QC inspection and help avoid appeals.

Reminder: Register now for the Consultative Selling Skills Workshop

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Register Now for the Consultative Selling Skills Workshop!

The Southern California Edison (SCE) and SoCalGas® Energy Upgrade California® Home Upgrade Program team invites you to an all-day workshop designed to help you gain the knowledge, skills and tools that will help you sell more projects, increase profit margins, and win in competitive situations. Join us for this special event targeted toward energy efficiency and home performance contractors, led by industry expert Jay Gentry.

Specific topics include:

  • Consultative selling process
  • Pre-call preparation
  • Getting off on the right foot
  • Strategic questioning
  • Need-based presentations
  • Handling questions and objections
  • Gaining agreement
  • Building rapport and credibility 

Date: Friday, May 15, 2015

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: SoCalGas® Energy Resource Center, 9240 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA 90241

Space is limited--Register now to reserve your spot!

Register Here!