Changes to Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure, NGAT Action Guidelines, and Make Safe Procedure

What will happen:

Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure, NGAT Action Guidelines, and Make Safe Procedure have changed for the 2019 program year. Please read through the updated documents and update your processes accordingly in the field, as soon as possible.

When it will happen:

April 1, 2019: Updated field processes should be fully implemented

What is new?

The following is a summary of the key changes that have been made. However, please make sure to review both documents in their entirety.

Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure

  1. Instances of the CO ‘fail’ threshold of 35ppm have changed to 26 ppm in Addendum #1 (NGAT Ambient and Flue CO Action Levels for GSR Calls) of the Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure

NGAT Action Guidelines

  1. Line 44: The description has changed to IMPROPER VENT TERMINATION DISTANCE, including:
    a) Natural draft vertical pipe terminating less than 4 feet from outside wall and not extended above roof.
    b) Horizontal vent pipe outside a wall and not extended above roof.
    c) Direct vent wall furnace terminated within 10 feet of a window wall AC or evap cooler and not 3 feet above roof and appliance does affect the living space.

  2. Removal of CIP NGAT Fail Code column

Make Safe Procedure

  1. Immediate Response (IR) CO measurement threshold instances of 35 ppm have changed to 26 ppm.

Download the Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure.

Download the NGAT Action Guidelines.

Download the Make Safe Procedure.

Critical Dates:

April 1, 2019: All testing must be done using the new guidelines.

Customer Service Skills Needed by HVAC Technicians

The BLS reports that employers sometimes prefer candidates with technical training to those with no secondary education. In addition to having substantial technical expertise, HVAC technicians should also possess good customer service skills. Here are some customer service tips for HVAC techs entering the field.

Learn to Listen

Listening to customers about the specific issues they’re having with their heating and cooling systems helps technicians pinpoint problems more quickly. Being good means knowing which questions to ask and how to ask them. For instance, simply asking a homeowner to describe a certain sound that the system made prior to malfunctioning can provide you valuable information concerning the cause of the breakdown.

Communicate Clearly

HVAC repair and maintenance professionals should be careful not to use overly technical language when talking to customers, because most won’t be familiar with HVAC jargon. It’s essential to have the ability to explain the basics of how heating and cooling systems work in plain language. For instance, you should be able to explain clearly why regular filter changes help keep HVAC systems functioning smoothly without being overly technical.

Remain Focused

Besides knowing which questions to ask customers, it’s also important for you to ask yourself the right questions when you go on a call. Here are some questions:

  • What is the system is supposed to do?
  • What is the system failing to do?
  • Which are the missing or malfunctioning components preventing the system from working properly?
  • What steps need to be taken to solve the problem and get the system up and running again?

Be Patient and Understanding

Those with HVAC certification routinely find themselves in a variety of situations throughout the workday. Entering people’s homes to work on their HVAC systems can expose technicians to circumstances that require considerable patience and understanding. For instance, a hectic household with crying children and harried parents can be a difficult work environment. It’s easy to become impatient when trying to perform complex work in a distracting environment. However, it’s important for HVAC technicians to be handle these situations professionally. This increases the likelihood of getting the job done and keeping the customer happy.

New Incentive Structure April 1, 2019

A Home Upgrade Program Change and Relaunch

What will happen:
The incentives offered by the Home Upgrade Program will change to a measure-based system that will not involve software modeling. Incentive amounts will depend on CEC Climate Zone.

When it will happen:
April 1, 2019. Last day to approve Pre-Install applications under the existing incentive structure is March 31, 2019. Applications must be fully Pre-Install Approved by this date, not just created or submitted.

What is the new incentive structure?

AHU Redesign Incentive Package

Critical Dates:

Feb 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 – Daily Q&A webinars to talk through the new incentive structure and provide opportunity for you to ask questions. Register here.

Feb 15, 2019 – Email sent out with all questions from webinars answered.

March 31, 2019 – Last day to approve Pre-Install applications for the existing incentive structure. All “Pre-Install Created” or “Pre-Install Correction Required” applications will be cancelled.

April 1, 2019 – New incentive structure launches for all newly created applications.

December 5, 2019 – All applications using old incentive structure not “Post-Install Approved” expire and will be cancelled.

Why Contractors Need to Deliver on the Customer Experience – Not Just a Quality Product

The customer experience is the new product. Today’s homeowners are evaluating contractors on the quality of experience not just the quality of the product.

Why construction contractors are falling short on delivering a positive customer experience?
As contractors, we’re not just building and delivering a project, we must build a relationship with the customer. When discord strikes during a construction project it’s usually not the final product that a homeowner is unhappy with, it’s the process.

What is customer experience?
Customer experience is defined by interactions between a client and a construction contractor throughout their project relationship. Interaction can include cultivation, advocacy, communication and service.

The customer experience is an integral part of a construction project because a customer who has a positive experience with a contractor is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer. A positive customer experience can impact the willingness of a customer to be a loyal advocate by way of referrals.


Raters are Becoming… “Independent Building Analysts”

A change to the Participating Rater Pathway

What will happen:
The Participating Raters pathway will have a new name: “Participating Independent Building Analysts”

When it will happen:
When the new portal rolls out, estimated for the end of February or March.

What is the new criteria for this participation pathway?

What role does an “Independent Building Analyst” fill?
We see two needs within the program that will be met by this new pathway. “Independent Building Analysts” can be hired by:

  1. Customers who wish to have an independent energy audit conducted by someone who is not in a position to sell them an upgrade or any other services
  2. Participating Contractors who wish to hire outside suppliers to handle completing combustion appliance safety (CAS) testing, whole house diagnostic assessments, energy modeling, and job submissions testing and modeling for their jobs instead of having in-house staff

Why is this change being made?

  • Originally, the “Participating Rater” pathway was designed to provide a way for Raters to manage project submissions under their own Portal account, in collaboration with Participating Contractors performing installation. This process has been under-utilized and has proven unnecessarily complex in terms of project tracking (QA, QC, etc.)
  • Nearly all CAS and diagnostic assessments, as well as energy-modeling services, are subcontracted to BPI-BA service providers or HERS II Raters that are also BPI-BAs, using the Participating Contractor’s account login to process incentive application submissions
  • The name “Participating Rater” is not customer friendly and does not adequately explain to the customer why they would need to hire an independent service instead of a contractor
  • HERS (II) Rating are not required for use in the Program. While we encourage comprehensive training and certifications to inform assessment of energy efficiency upgrade opportunities, we no longer need to require a certification to support Participating Rater pathway criteria that no longer exists
  • Requiring HERS (II) certification is an unnecessary barrier to entry for individuals and companies who can otherwise provide analyst services to the Program
  • We have required insurance proof, participation agreements, and background check confirmations from Participating Raters but have been leaving these verifications up to Participating Contractors when they subcontract with an outside BPI analyst. This makes it difficult to track for verification purposes and needs to be extended to all participating service providers to better ensure that anyone performing CAS testing and job submittal within our system has met (and continues to meet) all Program requirements

Thermostats: Set Points & Offers

When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to turn up the heat!

Programmable Thermostat Set Points

When modeling thermostat set points in energy modeling software, the Program requires the use of software defaults. This helps keep predicted savings conservative and in closer alignment with actual savings and realization rates (on average), better managing customer incentive expectations.

For SnuggPro, please select thermostat type (e.g., programmable, non-programmable, etc.) and leave the set-point input fields blank, as this will prompt the software to populate those fields with default range values. Based on weather station and bill data (if available), SnuggPro picks the best values for the modeled building. Desktop QA will be looking to verify the following:

The default thermostat setpoints for SnuggPro (when left blank during input):
Heating (High/At Home) = 64-72 F
Heating (Low/Not at Home) = 60-68 F
Cooling (High/Not at Home) = 76-88 F
Cooling (Low/At Home) = 72-82 F

For OptiMiser, the software uses default values also, based on weather station and bill data (if available). Please do not change them. Desktop QA will be looking to verify the following:

OptiMiser existing buildings default (Simple Mode)

Heating (1 Set-Back/Programmable)
Day Temp: 70 F
Night Temp: 68F

Cooling (1 Set-Back/Programmable)
Home Temp: 78 F
Away Temp: 78 F

Heating (2 Set-Back Programmable/Smart)
Home/Wake Temp: 70 F
Work/Sleep Temp: 68 F

Cooling (2 Set-Back Programmable/Smart)
Home/Wake Temp: 78 F
Work/Sleep Temp: 78 F

Smart Thermostat Offer

Build It Green has partnered with Ecobee to provide an exciting volume discount exclusively for our participating contractors. The Ecobee 3lite thermostat will be available at the +10,000 unit price when ordered in full case quantities of eight, and Ecobee will pay the shipping. The Ecobee 3lite is compatible with all 24 volt comfort systems including two stage air handlers and heat pump systems. Contact your Build It Green account representative for more information.