Collaboration through Uncharted Territory

Face-to-face interaction is standard business practice for NEEA’s market partners. Meeting in-person with everyone from supply chain actors to NEEA funders and stakeholders is typical. Everything changed when the COVID-19 crisis forced people to practice social distancing and resulted in many businesses reducing hours, workforce or even closing - everything except the need for energy efficient solutions. For participants in the alliance’s heat pump water heater (HPWH) program, behavioral shifts spurred a need for creative solutions. The alliance saw ways to help.

Rheem’s new Proterra line of HPHWs (meeting NEEA’s Tier 4 requirement)

By the end of March, NEEA staff developed tactical advice and posted marketing and engagement tips for our installer partners. These tools are designed to guide professionals through the shifting consumer landscape and promote adoption of HPWHs in support of market transformation. This fresh content provides advice on how to effectively operate with minimal physical contact, leverage utility rebates and the Federal tax credit and adjust media tactics. This posting was followed up by a list of industry resources, which cover best practices, guidelines, training opportunities, and relevant news targeted to assist the industry.

Engaging with market partners regarding what was and wasn’t working in their businesses became critical in determining additional ways to move forward. Through understanding these needs, the alliance was able to accelerate business practices in favor of HPWHs by incentivizing certain behaviors and milestones. For example, the alliance offered an incentive to installers to complete advanced online HPWH installation training, publish a HPWH landing page and blog posts on their website, and execute HPWH social media campaigns by a specific date. Pivoting from in-person to online trainings in tandem with these incentives makes good use of installer downtime while growing their skills.

Also noteworthy during this time of great change, a water heater manufacturer partner launched the industry’s first Tier 4 HPWH: the highest energy efficiency rating available.

As the HPWH industry evolves so do the needs of the alliance’s market partners during these difficult times. By sharing resources and problem solving together, the alliance is continuing its work to advance energy efficiency and keep communities strong.