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Heating Oil Dealers Enter Growing Energy Efficiency Sector

September 7, 2010

Last Thursday, discussed heating oil dealers diversifying their businesses by offering home energy efficiency services in an introduction to a video on approved dealer Atlas Glen-Morís offering of home energy audits.

Last Monday, the Hartford Business Journal covered the expansion of another approved dealer, Wesson Energy, into the home energy efficiency industry. Under the telling headline, ďMaking More by Selling Less,Ē the Journal examines how the counter-intuitive strategy of helping its heating oil customers use less oil has been a highly successful one for the Waterbury, CT-based business.

The energy efficiency industry is fast becoming big business, thanks to a perfect storm of cultural, political, and economic factors. As Americans have become more aware of environmental issues like global warming, they have become more interested in using less energy and reducing their carbon footprint. The financial downturn that has gripped the US for the last two years has led many Americans to seek out new ways of shaving dollars off of their monthly expenses, with reducing energy bills one of the most obvious. At the same time, local, state and federal governments have become aware of the political and economic benefits of subsidizing energy efficiency measures, and continue to offer generous efficiency programs in pursuit of those benefits. With cultural awareness, demand for services, and government funding supporting the new energy efficiency industry, itís no wonder that heating oil companies want to get in on the action. Experience in the energy sector and a loyal customer base make heating oil dealers ideal candidates to provide energy efficiency consulting and service.

In Wessonís case, government support came in the form of the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, which provides funds to utilities that in turn hire professional energy efficiency consultants like Wesson to provide home energy audits and other services to residents. The program began in 2006 and saw 3,200 participants statewide that year. By last year the number of participants had skyrocketed to 31,474. Last year, Wesson performed 1,500 energy audits and have already performed 2,500 this year, with the rest of its schedule for auditing appointments completely full. The company even has a waiting list of customers interested in receiving audits.

The Harford Business Journalís story on Wesson energy and its adoption of energy efficiency services is the latest proof that the home heating oil industry is in the midst of a profoundly transformative phase. To change along with the industry as a whole will be more difficult for some heating oil dealers than others, but at this point it is clear that change is essential to the survival of heating oil businesses around the country. The good news is that the path to long-term success is clearly defined: offer energy consumers the cleaner heating fuel and efficiency services they want, and heating oil companies can be millions of Americansí most important energy partner for the rest of the 21st century.

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National Oilheat Research Alliance ECC is funded in part through the National Oilheat Research Alliance.