How GreenOhm Makes Energy Incentives Easier To Find And Apply For

Posted on December 14th, 2011 by

Lee Guthman, Co-Founder of GreenOhm, discusses the impact of leveraging incentives for energy efficient products.

Full Transcript:

Ben lack: Why did you decide to start this business and what problem are you ultimately trying to solve?
Lee Guthman: We decided to start this business a little over two and a half years ago when the appliance rebate program were being started in the 50 different states being run in 50 different ways and realized that in order to take the noise out of the rebate and incentive space for energy efficient products particularly in appliances, we realized that there needed to be some type of system that easily help the customer identify savings that could be linked from zip code to actual product skus. Since then, we’ve expanded beyond appliances to include anything energy efficient for residences as well as commercial and industrial applications.
Ben Lack: What’s the value that you’re bringing to the potential clients?
Lee Guthman: We drive interest and consumer behavior for energy efficient products by helping identify rebate incentives and on-going cost savings that can be derived from both products, as well as services, by ultimately linking zip code to rebate and incentive requirements offered through sources like utility companies, municipalities, county, state and federal programs. In addition, also being able to calculate by zip code, using zip code level energy costs in helping calculate the savings that have been derived from those products in an on-going basis. So what we do is we really put together both components and help communicate one time as well as on-going cost savings for energy efficient products based on zip code.
Ben Lack: And is that how you differentiate yourself against some of the other platforms that are offering similar services like DSIRE?
Lee Guthman: Our data set is the largest data set of utility companies and municipality energy providers in the US for gas, water and electric. We’re the only service in the market that takes into account both primary as well as secondary providers of energy.In markets that are deregulated that may have 2-3-4-5-6 different electric or gas companies, we’re monitoring all of those utility companies regardless of size. Some of the other services have in them rebates and incentives offered through major utility companies and even some of the larger coops. We’re the only ones out there that are monitoring every utility company and energy provider, regardless of size. We’re the only service that uses utility boundaries that the EPA and DOE also licensed; we are able to have the most robust starting point of all sources of energy efficient rebates and incentives for energy efficient products.
Ben Lack: How do your clients define success as it relates to working with you and the solution that you offer?
Lee Guthman: Our clients measure success in being able to increase sales and increase or maintain margin for their products. Being able to help sell more efficient products at a lower price, which may be higher margin products or helping in-field sales people. Instead of having them go to the house and sit across from a homeowner and lower their price, they’re able to take these rebates and incentives and apply them to the purchase price, ultimately to lower the price to the end customer without lowering the margin that they’re able to obtain.
Ben Lack: Because you got so much information about the rebates and incentives that are out there for the country, what are your thoughts on what incentives are  available? Are we the country doing a good job of incentivizing folks to implement these types of technologies into their homes and businesses or are there certain areas that need improvement?
Lee Guthman: It really varies municipality to municipality, utility company to utility company and state to state. There are some great states out there that are very pro-active in promoting energy efficiency programs to help with the cost of retro-fitting a house or a business. Great states are state like Massachusetts which has wonderful rebates and incentives across a broad range of categories.For certain utility companies, they have strengthened certain programs but not other programs. It really varies across the map and because the programs are so varied and there are so many different sources of them, our data set would have helped our customers, not only help them communicate to their consumers what the rebates and incentives are from where they live, but also provide them with the business intelligence to be able to market their products to areas that are rich in rebates and incentives and offers them a competitive advantage in marketing their products versus folks that are not using this kind of data.
Ben Lack: Can you give us an example of a rebate or incentive that might have been previously overlooked but is now getting more attention because of the fact that your tool is in the hands of so many others?
Lee Guthman: When it comes to technologies like tankless water, lots of consumers know about water heaters and go to their basement and take a look at a big tank. However, many more consumers are unaware of tankless water technology so we’ve been working with companies like Rinnai to promote their tankless water and boiler products to consumers and help them communicate the great rebates and incentives that are out there in addition to the on-going cost savings that can be derived from those products. Tanked water heaters have a constant energy draw that tankless water heaters do not, so a technology like tankless water has not only great rebates and incentives to save on the upfront purchase but also has an on-going cost savings component that’s real dollars in the consumer’s pocket.
Ben Lack: What would you say is the biggest challenge for your company as you try to grow and raise your awareness?
Lee Guthman: I think our biggest challenge as well as our biggest opportunity is the sheer number of programs that are out there and staying on top of all the programs. Making sure that we’re communicating them in a form and a fashion that a consumer sales personnel in the field can rely on a 100% of the time. That we’re communicating the right rebate, for the right product, at the right time. The integrity of our data is the most important thing that we can rely on and that our customers rely on. So, no matter how good our tools look or how well they act on a website, if they’re not communicating accurate information all the time, then we failed.
Ben Lack: Why are you in this business and why have you chosen to do what you’re doing?
Lee Guthman: The folks that founded the company including myself have a passion for green and Cleantech and what we realized is that, if we can provide tools that would benefit consumers and sales people and businesses in helping identify savings opportunities by going green. That was something that really enticed us. It’s the whole, kind of, doing well by doing good. We got to come in and work on problems that companies have.Manufacturers, retailers and distributors don’t have the manpower, the time or the money to build these systems on their own, so what we’re able to do is leverage a large customer base and offer them tools that really make a difference in helping them sell more product, increasing or maintaining their margins and also do good by the environment.
Ben Lack: Before we let you go, is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
Lee Guthman: That’s a good question. It’s vitally important that businesses, regardless of their size and scope, be able to leverage this free money that’s out there in the market place to sell more products, to market their products at a lower cost to consumers for these energy efficient products because they truly help in the ROI calculation. They help a customer save money both one-time as well as on-going and tools like ours or other tools in the marketplace that do this are critical to helping the energy efficient market grow.

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