Helping Homeowners “Avoid Energy Drama”

Amanda Godward of Ecotelligent Homes

Michigan Saves summer “Avoid Your Energy Drama” campaign focuses on resolving the conflict around keeping cool.

Energy efficiency and drama aren’t often used together in the same sentence.

After all, insulation, air sealing, and furnace upgrades typically aren’t at the center of the plot of the latest hip HBO mini-series.

But the truth is, issues and conflicts around energy efficiency and comfort in the home do cause drama in our everyday lives, and the tug-of-wars over thermostats and drafts can cause real tension in the family.  Perhaps not the same kind of tension found in the Soprano family, but tension nonetheless.

Tony Soprano once famously said, “A wrong decision is better than indecision.”
But at Michigan Saves, we we are ready to help Michigan homeowners make the best decisions possible.

That’s the idea behind a new statewide public service announcement campaign called “Avoid Energy Drama,”  made possible through a partnership with Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, and Dow.

The campaign is designed not only to alert homeowners to the discomfort and costs imposed by their inefficient homes and buildings, but to help them find the appropriate resources, contractors and financing tools.

An enticing entry point to efficiency work is the campaign’s $99 home energy audit offer.

“The audit is key because it shows the homeowner where the inefficiencies are,”  says Mary Templeton, executive director of Michigan Saves. “And it’s a great deal, too. An audit of this complexity can cost hundreds of dollars in the marketplace.”

The campaign’s web site features videos that dramatize the conflicts faced by families over thermostats, drafts and stuffy rooms in a light-hearted manner, while helping them make the connection between their daily struggles and their ultimate cause: energy inefficient homes.

The first step to getting over energy drama is for a homeowner to admit they have a problem and seek professional help, just like Tony did when he sought out the services of Dr. Melfi. But in the case of energy drama, the professional help is a Michigan Saves network contractor, who can perform an energy audit of the home and help direct homeowners to the appropriate “treatment” that will help reduce their energy drama in a cost-effective manner.

Amanda Godward is one of those contractors. Her firm, Ecotelligent Homes, provides energy audits and installs energy efficiency improvements in homes. Godward, who also serves on the Michigan Saves board, sees the PSA as an effective means to convey the message to people and help generate leads for contractors, who can then help people navigate the process and identify the best implementation and financing tools.

Avoiding energy drama is not something people can do alone.

“I think (the PSA) is a great way to try to incorporate the issues related to energy efficiency into a message that people can understand,” says Godward, who notes that comfort, which the PSA series plays upon as its main dramatic thrust, is a main driver of her business.

“I would say that comfort is 90 percent of our business,” she says. “From drafts and ice dams in winter to hot stuffy rooms and smelly, funky crawl spaces in the summer.”

Michigan Saves partnered with the Shelton Group, a marketing firm specializing in sustainability, to produce the PSA series which aired 326 times in March, reaching 982,470 audience impressions and $41,013 in media value. Radio PSAs aired 255 times, with 744,000 audience impressions and $17,590 in media value. Broadcast PSAs aired in the markets of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing, Traverse City/Cadillac and Marquette.

“We sought out to do a PSA that grabs the attention of news stations and our target audience,” says Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of the Shelton Group. “Especially the person we all know make the decisions in the house: Mom.”

The campaign was designed with the people of Michigan in mind.

“Awareness and understanding are what is needed in Michigan, and a campaign like this meets people where they are by helping them identify that there is a problem and then associating it with energy,” says Mary Templeton, Michigan Saves’ Executive Director. “We let them come to the answer on their own terms, not by telling them they’re wrong, but by showing them the way.”

Michigan Saves is now now launching the next phase of the effort, a summer campaign focused on keeping homes cool. The campaign will target additional markets and hopefully help more Michiganians come to terms with–and vanquish–their energy dramas through the appropriate improvements supported by the right financing tools.

“The program has been wonderful and is part of the reason why we’ve been able to grow our business,” says Godward. “We’ve been able to get higher ticket improvements because we are able to offer financing to customers.”