Improving indoor air quality has long been one of the pillars of home performance. But does it actually drive business? Do people think to call a home performance contractor when their home has air quality issues, or when their family has health issues that can be (at least partially) attributed to the common building issues that home performance strives to solve -- problems like leaky ducts, incomplete building envelopes and wet basements?
Sure they do, sometimes. But we believe that there is a large disconnect between the actual health impacts of home performance upgrades and how they're understood by the average homeowner. It's up to us as an industry to better communicate the health benefits of home performance so that people will fix their homes and live healthier, happy, longer lives as a consequence.
Last week we gave a webinar about how home performance contractors can do a better job of selling indoor air quality, and we thought that a few of the key points were worth sharing with the rest of our readers who couldn't attend. Among them:
- A growing body of research demonstrates the health benefits of home performance upgrades.
- The medical profession is beginning to understand the importance of healthy indoor air quality.
- Homeowners still don't understand the relationship between health concerns and home performance.
- Engaging energy audit customers about the health benefits of home performance upgrades improves close rates for retrofits, as well as time-to-close.
The "stimulus" in this case refers not to the money that the federal government set aside to jumpstart the economy a few years ago, but to the thing that causes a homeowner to do something. The catalyst. In the case of indoor air quality improvements, it's all over the map: it could be asthma, it could be mold, it could be allergies.
This lack of consistency presents a challenge for us. When it comes to reducing energy bills, we can say "reduce energy bills." When it comes to reducing environmental impact, we can say that. But when it comes to improving indoor air quality, we have to talk about things other than indoor air quality. Mold, allergies, asthma, etc., because rarely do people hire a home performance company to improve indoor air quality for its own sake.
One of the best venues to educate homeowners about what home performance upgrades have to do with these health issues is during an energy audit. Whether or not a homeowner was thinking about air quality when he hired you for an energy audit, it's a perfect time to bring up issues like asthma and allergies, and to explain how a home performance upgrade can help reduce them.
Search Data and Keywords
One really interesting way to learn about how homeowners think about air quality and respiratory issues is to look at search data. It's imperfect, but it's nonetheless eye-opening.
For example, take a look at these two screenshots from Google Trends. The one on the left shows historic search volume for the term "indoor air quality," and the one on the right for "what causes asthma." As you can see, the number of searches for the former term have been dropping steadily over the past several years, while the latter has seen an increase.
Why this is, we can't tell you exactly. But we can humbly suggest that the drop on the left doesn't necessarily mean that people are less interested in indoor air quality now than they were a few years ago; they're just using different language to find out information about it. If you're interested in intercepting some of that search traffic, and possibly turning it into sales, you may want to use a larger variety of language on your site than simply "indoor air quality."
Other indoor-air-quality-related search terms people appear to be using with some frequency include:
- Causes of asthma
- Mold removal
- Mold testing
- Home mold removal
- Indoor air pollution
- Wet basement
- Air quality testing
- Air purifiers
- Mold remediation
Use these terms on your website. Write blog posts about how your services can reduce indoor air pollution and mold risks. Include information about indoor air quality in your newsletters and direct mail. If you're interested in really going a step further, do some additional keyword research using Google's Adwords tool or Google Trends. Or just talk to your current customers about what motivated them to hire you -- was it mold, or moisture in the basement, or persistent respiratory problems? Take the air quality issues that seem to be motivating people in your region and address them on your website.
Any thoughts, comments, questions or concerns, feel free to get a hold of us here at Energy Circle PRO.
We'll leave you with this short video about indoor air quality from LEAP that we think is particularly well done (and encourage you to share it!):