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[Video Lesson] Magic Numbers for Sizing Residential Geothermal Systems

Rules of thumb are terrible for designers, but they’re indispensable for bidding and sales.  Here’s a quick video lesson that covers rough air and water flow requirements for an average residential geothermal heat pump system.  Brought to you by John Manning, instructor for the Entry Level Geothermal Professional Certificate course.

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Two Things I Learned at the 2012 IGSHPA Conference

On Tuesday October 2nd we hosted an evening program titled, “How to Make Money in Renewable Energy” for 45 brave souls who traveled to Indianapolis for the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Conference.

These were the panelists:

  • Allan Skouby, GeoPro – manufacturer of thermally enhanced grout.
  • Steven Hamstra, Greensleeves – engineer, designer + manufacturer of packaged geothermal solutions
  • Greg Beach, Geo-Hydro Supply – longtime installer turned wholesale distributor
  • Rick Ortman, Ortman Drilling – geothermal, water well, and environmental drilling services

Each provided a history of their company and shared the biggest challenge currently facing the business.  Ground rules were simple: 1) no marketing of yourself or your products (that’s what the trade show is for!), 2) be honest, and 3) keep it positive.

Here are the top two lessons I learned, distilled from an evening full of great conversation:

  1. Think big and be generous.  There was an obvious pattern that emerged from the guys who have made money in the geothermal industry for a long time – they help people.  Employees, customers, vendors, competitors…everybody.  The best example of this came from Rick Ortman, who partnered with two competitors to win one of the biggest geothermal drilling jobs in history (the Ball State geothermal installation).  I asked him, “Was it hard to partner with a competetor?”  His response: “Not really.  We help our competitors all the time – when the economy was really bad in the 70′s, my dad used to teach the other drillers in the area new methods and help them keep the industry going.”  Did I mention that their company has been around since 1922?  Think there’s a lesson to be learned there?
  2. Learn to tell your story so people listen.  Almost everyone’s biggest challenge seemed to revolve around convincing someone to listen and act on information they could provide.  Allan and Steve talked about design engineers, especially ones with no geothermal experience, not always listening or doing things the right way.  Greg and Rick had similar things to say about other contractors and the end customers.  The geothermal industry has such an amazing story to tell for those who will listen, but not enough people are listening.  I walked away feeling that this industry needs better storytellers as much as anything else.

Richard Hiles with Climatemaster, and Ryan Carda with GeoConnections were instrumental in making the event happen – so a big thank you to both of those guys.

These honest panel discussions aren’t for everybody, but I absolutely love them.  It’s so refreshing to get beyond all the hype and bluster and really find out what’s going on with other businesses in the industry.  There’s talk of doing more small group stuff like this, so be sure to reach out and let me know if you’d like to collaborate on something similar.

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“Best Practices for Selling Geothermal” on Wednesday’s #GeoChat

On 11am on Wednesday, January 18th, HeatSpring will be hosting a #geochat with guest expert Martin Orio, VP at Water Energy Distributors on twitter. Read more about the #geochat here.

The topic for the first #geochat is “Best Practices for Selling Geothermal”. Like we discussed in our last episode of HeatSpring TV, Geothermal is a better investment then the stock market, notice how the tweetie bird is dreaming about dollars. Believe it or not, he’s dreaming about how to sell more geothermal systems.

In this post, I’m going to go over a few basics so anyone interested can get involved.

What topics are we going to discuss?

We’ll be discussing the best practices for selling geothermal. Here’s what I’ll ask Martin.

  • Best way for getting leads
  • How to separate hot leads from cold
  • Top objections and how to handle them
  • We know referrals are the engine of renewable energy businesses. What is the best way to get referrals in the geothermal industry?

Why Are we Hosting a #Geochat?

The idea was stolen borrowed from Raina Russo of EcoOutfitter and her #solarchat (the #solarchat is taking place tomorrow at 1pm, read more about the #solarchat here)

The purpose is to provide a place for professionals who are OBSESSED with geothermal a place to connect with each other, share knowledge and best practices.

Our Guest

Our guest for this week will be Martin Orio. The geothermal industry needs more Martins. He’s loud, loves geothermal and will tell you about. Martin spoke at HeatSpring for ‘How to Make Money in Renewable Energy’ meetup and I liked what he had to say.

How it Works Video Tutorial

If you’re new to twitter, see this tutorial about how the #solarchat works (Raina’s #soalrchat starts at 1pm on Wednesday) just remember, our #geochat will be starting at 11am.

Here’s how it will work: I’ll be asking Martin a few questions that he will respond to. In the meantime, you can feel free to ask martin, myself, or anyone else on #geochat whatever question you’d like.

Posted in #geochat, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar and Geothermal Sales and Marketing Tips | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

HS TV Ep. 7: “Geothermal Will Give you Better Returns than the Stock Market”

One of our goals in 2012 is to explore what can be done to make geothermal a mainstream technology.

To get some more insights into what we need to do as an industry, I had a conversion with Harold, the founder and CEO of 360Chestnut.

The discussion is around 20 minutes, here is what we talked about:

  • What 360 Chestnut is doing around educating homeowners about geothermal.
  • Why Harold loves his geothermal system more then his kids (sometimes).
  • How and why Harold decided to get into the geothermal industry.
  • What are your thoughts on installing geothermal versus upgrading the shell of a building?
  • What is the story of 360 Chestnut? Why was it created and what specifically are you working on within the geothermal industry?
  • Why every home should be at least consider geothermal.
  • Do you think 360 Chestnut is more of a ‘geothermal missionary’, someone who is converting non-believers, or are you preaching to the choir, are you looking to find the people that already want geothermal?
  • What do you see as the main problems with geothermal industry going mainstream?
  • How does the fragmented geothermal industry, both in manufactures and installers, make it difficult for the industry to market itself to homeowners?
  • Why should a contractor work with 360 Chestnut instead of creating their own site that attracts homeowners? Why would a homeowner go to your site first, instead of companies that are actually doing the installations?
Posted in Geothermal Heat Pumps, HS TV | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Geothermal Designer Tax Credit: Don’t Leave Money on the Table

“Your database of completed geothermal projects is a goldmine.”

That was the message at tonight’s New England Geothermal Professional Association member’s meeting. Charles Goulding, from Energy Tax Savers, gave a compelling presentation about some underutilized government programs that directly benefit geothermal designers. It would be impossible to do his presentation justice, but here are some of my notes (in layman’s terms) that should be interesting to anyone who has completed (or will complete) a geothermal project between 2005 and 2013: Continue reading

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Five Key Items for Writing a Solid Renewable Energy Sales Proposal

If you’re currently a contractor and interested in entering or expanding your business into the renewable energy industry, there are four main hurdles you will face.

  1. Understanding the technology. See this free course to learn more about the technology basics.
  2. Filling out a vast amount of government paperwork, and maneuvering around solar and geothermal permitting and incentives.
  3. Marketing: Getting the attention of potential customers to sign your first project. Here are some tips on bringing customers to you.
  4. Sales: Needing to convince property owner to purchase geothermal or solar AND buy them from you.

Today, lets focus on number four. Like it or not, investing in renewable energy is NOT something that property owners MUST do, and they have other options to choose from. With that in mind, having good sales skills is key to convincing a potential customer that investing in renewable energy will be both profitable and attractive for their home or business. So, you must convince them to invest into solar pv, geothermal, solar thermal or energy efficiency and then convince them to pick YOU as the contractor.

Continue reading

Posted in Building Efficiency | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments