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Lights Out on the T12: How to Make the Switch

September 06, 2017 Joe Plummer

If we were a diner, T12s would be 86’d off the menu. But in our industry, it’s not as quick as a chalkboard erase or menu reprint. Our program teams need to get out there – they need to provide education and outreach to serve up savings and bring better efficiency to the table, business by business. The U.S. federal government has regulations putting an end to T12 fluorescent lighting – but they only apply to the import or manufacture of it.  

Regulation isn’t a stop button. There are many businesses across counties and cities operating without that knowledge or understanding of how much lighting efficiency can help them. It’s not something top of mind when you’re managing staff, budgets, local regulation, tax compliance, and services or products. Even more, T12s have been around since the 1930s; so, while they are outdated, they’re what many individuals are accustomed to using.  

But it’s a cost for companies not to make the switch. A typical 4-foot T12 lightbulb is 40W and will cost an average of $15 per year to operate. This could be replaced with a 15W LED tube, which would cost only $5.60 per year to operate and last 2.5 times longer. The actual cost to a business depends on the number of T12s they have and how many hours they use them, of course – but the bottom line is more Watts equals more dollars.

To get an understanding of just how many T12s are out there, my team visited 10 cities across Minnesota and assessed over 20 randomly-chosen businesses per city. We recorded a variety of information for each site including T12 fixture counts, lamp wattages and ballast types. The results may be surprising. To learn about them in more detail, visit the original webinar that outlines this study.

  • 56 of the 210 buildings had T12s, bringing their statewide estimate to 1 in 4 non-residential buildings.
  • The total power consumed by T12s in Minnesota is about 242 MW, representing 10% of all commercial and industrial lighting power.
  • Minnesota T12s consume about 881 GWh per year, equivalent to the energy consumed by about 77,000 U.S. homes.
  • T12s are most prevalent in small businesses.

After evaluating the results, we came up with some recommendations for making the switch from T12 to LED:

  • Use LED T8s, LED retrofit kits or LED luminaries. Design Lights Consortium (DLC)-listed LED products are preferred.
  • Extra precautions must be taken when replacing T12s with Type B (Direct Wire) LED T8s. Risks include electrical shock, incompatible socket types and accidental insertion of a fluorescent tube in a direct-wired fixture.
  • Installation costs can be a barrier for upgrading T12 fixtures. Energy efficiency programs can help overcome this barrier through bonus offers, bounty programs or bulk purchase programs.

It’s important to keep in mind that energy savings are only part of the equation. Upgrading to LEDs can improve the overall lighting quality in a space, offering a myriad of benefits including improved sales, safety and productivity. The bottom line is there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each customer has different needs and budget when it comes to lighting. Thankfully, the variety of LED products on the market today make it easier than ever to upgrade to an advanced lighting solution. 

Are you a small business ready to make the switch? Contact us to find out what programs are offered in your area – you may be able to take advantage of rebates for your upgrades.

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Capture Energy Savings with the Updated Department of Energy Commercial Refrigeration Standards

August 16, 2017 Sarah Speck

Have you heard the saying “change is the only constant?” That rings true on many fronts – even in the energy efficiency industry. With continuous improvements being made and new inventions coming along, it can be challenging to keep up. One of the latest changes seen is to the new energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration equipment, issued by the Department of Energy earlier this year.  What are these new standards, and how do they affect utility programs?

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The energy efficiency industry thrives on change; without it, there would be no growth. Higher standards for commercial refrigeration will require adaptations to incentives, which is definitely a change. Without adaptations, we risk losing incentive opportunities and diverse portfolios of energy efficiency opportunities for customers. Staying on top of these trends and responding rapidly to them places the emphasis on cutting-edge technology, which in turn spurs greater all-around energy efficiency.

Contact Franklin Energy to discuss how our experts can help implement these Commercial Refrigeration Standards in your energy efficiency programs.

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Online and On Your Customer's Terms

July 24, 2017 Greg Nettleton, BPI

The course of most customer journeys starts online, whether it’s researching spring plaid fashions on your laptop or hopping on your phone to order a latte at your neighborhood coffee shop. The point is, it’s about time optimization and ease of use. Everyone has places to go, people to see and things to do and somehow, we need to fit energy efficiency effortlessly into busy lives.

You may be thinking, “hey, we’re online, we’re covered.” Being mobile doesn’t promise a smooth experience, nor are all consumers tethered to desktop. Tools like home energy assessments require design, from how you attract customers (digital ads and landing pages) and how they opt in to each check point, or even how they enter each home feature en route to the end goal of seamlessly providing information and energy savings.

It takes the right solution to enhance the customer experience and expedite their journey from a hike with bumps and trip-ups to a short jaunt that keeps them merrily on their way.

Interested in customer engagement through online tools, like Home Energy Surveys? Check out our whitepaper. We go in-depth on the demand, challenges and tactics to meet customers online, while also making it easy.

 

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Safety First: Five Tips to Maintain a Culture of Safe Driving

June 28, 2017 Kevin McDonough

Now more than ever, we are being asked to implement energy efficiency and demand response programs more efficiently and effectively.  With all this need for speed, it’s important to maintain a culture of safety.

We all know what busy work days are like—back to back conference calls, customer and client meetings, while trying to squeeze in lunch between it all.  Mobile devices, Bluetooth, and apps make it easier. But it’s up to us to make sure we balance the need for speed and our access to technology with safety, whether we’re in the office or out in the field.

With nearly 40 offices across the country, our team is on the move constantly. Performing energy assessments, installing demand response devices and saving energy from New York to Washington State puts hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometers of our fleet vehicles each year. So safe driving is one of our top priorities.

How do we maintain a culture of safe driving for our field crews? See our checklist below for our top five tips to help create a culture of safe driving.   

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Contact Us to discuss how our safety culture can benefit your energy efficiency and demand response programs.

Get #Social

May 24, 2017 Brady Loomis

Do you have a Facebook page? Are you on Instagram? Use hashtags? What’s your Twitter handle? Sounds like a foreign language. But, you still want to be social. You add a profile photo and quick “about” section to each platform, simply to exist for your customers, to have a presence, a seat at the social media table. It’s better than nothing, right?

The world of social media is where almost every customer hangs out these days, yet each platform is a completely different podium. What you say and how you say it varies from Facebook to LinkedIn to Instagram to Twitter. And I’m not just talking about the character count curbing the conversation – it’s content both visual and text. Here’s an example: LinkedIn is valuable for sharing news, recruiting and showcasing culture. As a utility, you would want to post a story about your efficiency program saving a manufacturer significant costs or an employee in the field restoring power quickly.

Before you get social, consider these tips for your energy efficiency programs. You’ll gain a better grasp of the right messaging for the best channel.

Purposeful Presence: It’s not always beneficial to be everywhere. Depending on what info you want to share and with whom, certain social media sites make more sense. For instance, an electric company promoting energy efficient lighting could use Pinterest boards about the best lighting for customers’ indoor and outdoor spaces. A natural gas provider could promote attic insulation rebates on Twitter or Facebook. Think about what topics are relevant, not to just your business, but also the platform, so you don’t get tuned out.

Something to Say: Bring value to your customers. Good content is shareable – if you offer rebates or free tips, customers will want to read or even pass it along. Invest in content that is relevant to your utility or ultra-engaging. Good content makes your followers look good too. For instance, a customer shares a video from your company’s post about an energy-saving expo (psst, here’s how to make your event a success). Your customer looks like a star for passing along the local event to his/her friends. This can also bring in a new audience for you!

Keep Rhythm: Before launching any social media account, prepare content ahead of time so you can be seen in customers’ newsfeed. It’s important to stay current and consistent on your account, while not posting all day long. You should be top of mind without being too in your face.

Facebook is an Anchor: Whether you’re a Facebook fan or not, it’s undoubtedly the largest platform. If nothing else, you should use the site to:

  • Promote your other social media accounts
  • Share photos and informational links
  • Advertise and bring people to your website

Targeted ads can also help businesses and utilities reach audiences these days. They’re precise too. They can be ‘geo-targeted’ so you’re only reaching specific customers. Click through rates are higher with a strong, straightforward call to action, like ‘start now’ versus ‘want to learn more.’

Open the Conversation: One of the most organic benefits of social media is the conversation. A customer writes a nice review about your energy technician who came out to assist them at their home, you can comment back thanking them and maybe plug another program. Someone shares or comments on a picture of a new product you’re offering, you can and should respond back. This creates a positive customer experience and brand loyalty. Even if feedback is negative, respond back. Be professional, let them know their feedback is important and find a way to smooth it over.

Social media is an upward trajectory. Businesses are talking. Customers are inquiring and listening. For utility companies, you can bring added value to your customers, especially through your energy efficiency programs.  You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.

Want to join the conversation or grow your online presence, but don’t know where to start? Franklin Energy's expert marketing team can help. 

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Don’t Be Intimidated by B2B Marketing

April 21, 2017 Kelsie Festerling

Poring over (or skimming) hundreds of emails, looming deadlines, back-to-back meetings, and chatty Kathy or Larry hovering over your cube wall…there’s only so much time in a day and too many distractions one person can take.

So how do you market to someone who barely has time to refill his/her coffee and snatch the last bagel? How do you make them stop what they’re doing for one minute to read an email blast, direct mail piece or digital advertisement?

Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Before we even get to that, you want to know how an energy efficiency implementer even knows about marketing. Well, marketing is a part of our business just as much as engineering or budgeting. Since inception, it’s one of the reasons our clients reach results, both through residential outreach and B2B marketing. Today, our in-house team of marketing professionals includes 20 employees and spans everything from digital marketing to print production to A/B testing.

Okay, so now that we have street cred, back to those questions about getting business customers’ attention in a sea of swarming technologies and to-dos. Here are some proven tips (outlined in detail) that we recommend, based on our own trial and error.

It’s Called the Business World for a Reason
Businesses exist in their own realm – a world of their own. A business customer is not parallel to a residential customer. They have their own decision making process, their own challenges and their own engagement preferences. The biggest differentiator is the B2B market is more niche, more sophisticated. It’s important to first understand the type of business you’re dealing with before you roll out a marketing plan.

Once you know the type of business, flesh out the profile even further. That will help you target them with the right channels and right communications.  

Determine:

  • Segment
    • Is it a hospital, retail store, restaurant, office building, school?
  • Size
    • How much staffing support is available? Is there an office admin?
  • Main goals and objectives
    • What drives the business? Products? Services? What do they aim to deliver to their customers? What is their profit margin?
  • Daily challenges and even disruptions
    • Is budget top of mind? Employee satisfaction? Resources available? Competition? Space availability? Operational costs? Rent?

Align:

  • Reach the segment and speak to the segment
    • Ex: A direct mail piece may not reach a multifamily property owner in a timely fashion. However, he/she may check email quite often for business purposes and to keep in contact with residents.
  • Who is the decision maker or will spotlight business ideas?
    • If it’s a large business, there may be someone who filters all communications first.
  • Determine the opportunities and barriers for each customer segment, so you can truly speak to their needs and offer real solutions
    • A small business may have less wiggle room to make long-term money saving investments. Get a foot in the door first with direct install, which is no cost and easy to implement. 

Build and Continue Relationships

  • You will likely be working with this business for an extended period of time – every interaction is make or break. First impressions start a relationship. Negative interactions break a relationship.
  • Listen to the customer’s needs and follow-through with what you promise them. Don’t over promise, be honest in what can be accomplished.
  • Form a trusting relationship to instill brand loyalty (piggybacking off aforementioned ‘honesty’).
  • Assess the customer’s feedback when provided and make changes accordingly. Don’t only make changes that they will notice, but thank them for making your services better.

Aside from making your own assessments, there are tools you can use and your own data you can collect that will help you develop a marketing plan.

 

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Customer Co-Pays: Driving faster adoption of new technologies without breaking the bank

April 10, 2017 Jim Heffron

If our industry had a purpose statement, we’d say energy efficiency programs exist to help customers use energy sensibly and affordably. Seems simple enough; yet it’s not always that linear. Through the years, measures and methodology have evolved. New technologies pave the way for greater efficiency and results (but newer and better means a higher cost measure). The aim is to drive the rate and volume of customers ‘buying’ into the program.

That’s where it gets a tad tricky. Energy efficiency programs adhere to a strict budget, spanning resources, marketing materials, products, training and implementation. As much as we’d like to be riding the next wave of technologies, we have to be fiscally responsible. Numbers need to align – cost of technology and services against the savings for the customer and program budget.

Download our eBook to see how co-pays can work for your program.

Co-pays can make up the difference without breaking a customers’ piggy banks or strapping utilities’ program funding. (Tweet it!) Top-of-the-line equipment and technologies can be installed for a flat fee that will keep everyone content. But it’s not just numbers. This program offer needs to capture interest and demand. Outreach done right can help customers see the benefit of upgrading. Help them understand just how much they’ll save.

So far, we’ve seen success with key measures, such as CFLs and programmable thermostats. Both have increased in market share and continue to gain momentum. Newer, and higher priced, measures like LEDs and smart thermostats show significant savings potential but need a co-pay to support initial rollouts. As price tags drop or customer demand changes, the co-pay can be flexible - lowering or even removing the cost to the customer. Still, every market segment is unique. There are many markets untapped. There are also many new technologies rounding the corner to consider…and with that co-pay and outreach must be reexamined.

Download our ebook to see the steps and considerations we recommend when incorporating co-pay options in your programs.

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THE SECRET OF THE PROMISE MAKER

March 27, 2017 Dan Tarrence

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but I have the easiest job in the world. I am a Promise Maker. In leading business development efforts over the past decade, the recipe is fairly simple: meet potential clients, listen to their challenges, understand their priorities, and assure them we can solve their problems and help them realize their goals. The proposals and finalist presentations we deliver to potential clients are just that: promises made.

The making of promises is easy. I don't say this to diminish the effort and skill it takes to build relationships with clients, wow them with an awesome proposal, and then blow their socks off in the finalist presentation. That is all hard work and our sales and proposal teams are great at it. However, in the end when I sign the cover letter, I make the promises to our potential clients.

It's the keeping of promises that is the hard part. It reminds me of a line from the play Hamilton where George Washington tells a young, scrappy, and hungry Alexander Hamilton, "Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder." Promise-keeping hits goals, boosts customer satisfaction, delights clients, and makes the whole process work. Promise Keepers make Promise Makers look good.

So, what does it take to be a really good Promise Keeper? The best in the business share three traits:

  1. Have integrity.

Do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

  1. Be an expert.

Confident, but not arrogant.

Efficient without cutting corners.

Responsible, accountable, and willing to learn.

Respectful to clients, customers, each other. Even competitors.

Experienced, but flexible to the ever-changing industry.

Supportive of the success of our clients and coworkers.

  1. Maintain your grit.

My favorite. This description by Angela Lee Duckworth, well-known for her research into links between character and success, says it all:Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.” 

Remember that Promise Makers and Promise Keepers succeed or fail together, since each person holds the others’ reputations in their hands. (Tweet it!) If you are a Promise Maker, the secret is to surround yourself with well-tuned Promise Keepers and listen to their concerns. If you are a Promise Keeper, understand the fine line between a win and a loss. And each person should assess their own integrity, expertise and grit – with clear honesty. Enhancing these traits forms an unbeatable team.

Request a meeting to speak with our expert team to see how we can deliver for your energy efficiency programs.

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Common Area Lighting Solutions: One Big Happy Multifamily

March 16, 2017 Brody Vance

Tenant satisfaction is largely the motivator for multifamily property owners to participate in our programs. Free energy-saving products keep tenants happy…happy tenants keep renting. And since participation is at no cost, it’s business benefits property owners can bank on – nothing to lose, plenty to gain.

Still, I’m pretty sure these property owners wouldn’t mind saving some energy and costs themselves too. Common area energy savings bring savings straight to the bottom line of their business. Common areas are typically illuminated 16 or more hours a day so it helps utilities reach goal even faster. But with limited time and budget, it can’t be complicated, or at a high-cost to the owners.

Common area lighting solutions hit all of the marks – truly being the solution. This package is an easy decision. If property owners are willing to take one step towards participation, that helps utilities get one step closer to goal.

But first, you have to get your foot in the complex door.

CALS packages require a pricing model and smart marketing approach. A co-pay is simple for everyone. The property owner can easily afford it. The contractor has transparency into pricing and services. The utility isn’t taking a large bite from its tight budget. Win-win-win.

The marketing plan is where it gets a little more complex. You first need to reach your audience. Then, you need to generate awareness and interest – usually using the free direct installation draw. After that, you have to keep the conversation going without overwhelming.

We talk about building and implementing a successful CALS component into your multifamily program in our whitepaper: Achieving Common Area Lighting Savings in Multifamily Housing. Check out the paper’s studies and strategy.

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Making the SMART Choice WITH YOUR Smart Thermostat

February 28, 2017 Charlie Richardson

Click on the infographic below to download the PDF.

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Want to discuss how these new technologies can fit into your energy efficiency programs?

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