ACI Conference Gives Michigan Saves a Chance to Share Tips, Gain Knowledge from Peers

Mary Templeton speaking at the ACI National Home Performance Conference

The Michigan Saves team made a big impression in several ways at this year’s ACI National Home Performance Conference in Detroit April 29–May 1.

First was the big contingent: Executive Director Mary Templeton, Operations Manager Terri Schroeder, Marketing Director Selma Tucker, Business Energy Financing Program Manager Todd O’Grady, and Program Assistant Anna Schroen all were on hand to relate Michigan Saves’ story to colleagues.

But the Saves squad wasn’t there just to work the room; team members were primed to lead the conversation on the value of energy efficiency and the positive effects financing deals can have on such investments.

“I was thrilled to be associated with Michigan Saves,” says Schroeder. “We were so well-represented — as a sponsor, on all of our panels, in the opening address, via our bag insert, and, of course, the lanyard!  Also, it was great to meet and socialize with dozens of our active, authorized contractors. The after-hours events were great opportunities to get to know the people I often talk to on the phone, or just hear about from others.”

Schroeder’s presentation focused on Michigan Saves’ bread-and-butter issue: innovative financing to help homeowners invest in energy efficiency.

But the big event was Executive Director Mary Templeton teaming up with efficiency contractor George Clark to present “Strategies (th)at Work” – an overview of what Michigan Saves has accomplished and will accomplish.

ACI logo“Imagine you work at Whirlpool, and you were just issued a very nice bonus. You and the rest of your colleagues are talking about how you are going to spend that money. What if, in conversations at the water cooler, at lunch, and at staff meetings, making energy efficiency improvements rose to the top of the list of wants, needs, and desires? It is a far cry from what we see today. Our intention today is to share our experiences in several programs that have set out to do exactly that – inspire people at their place of work to take action in making energy efficiency improvements,” Templeton tells the audience.

In noting that efforts to date had produced more than 750 audits and 300 retrofits through employer-based contacts, she relates a key advantage of the format: low cost.

“(Y)ou know when you go through an employer, you are talking to people who are employed. Community assets like churches, neighborhood organizations, elected officials, block captains, and community development organizations may or may not be trusted resources, and neighbors don’t always talk to neighbors, so you can’t count on the word to spread without a fair amount of intervention,” Templeton explains.

Spreading the word also was the theme in Tucker’s presentation. Michigan Saves’ marketing expert presented on “Avoid Energy Drama,” the new public service announcement campaign that is waking up homeowners to the comfort, physical and mental, they could have via smarter investments in energy efficiency.

“We all recall the family stories of Mom and Dad fighting over the thermostat,” Tucker says. “Such a fundamental experience, we saw, was a perfect vehicle to engage consumers and transmit our message of innovative financing and technical proficiency. We are pleased by our initial results from the 2014 launch and are expecting even bigger things as the campaign ramps up this summer.”