If you ask James Carlin about Energy Results, he will tell you it’s much more than a website. The President and COO of the Chicago-based company feels that Energy Results’ offerings are much more than just a portal to the world of home energy improvements.

The slow rates of home retrofitting and weatherization have shown that it’s hard to get people to learn about, and then take action on, upgrading their home for energy efficiency. Enter Energy Results, which just launched its platform, in the hopes that they can solve some of the problems that prevent people from capitalizing on these opportunities.

“We’d like to be a trusted advisor and provider for all things energy in your home,” said Carlin.

In order to do that, the company’s website helps you carry out an assessment of your home instead of using a potentially costly in-home energy audit as the first step. It’s relatively painless, and it allows homeowners (or even renters!) to find out the different changes they could make and what the payback timeline -- and carbon savings (expressed in trees spared) -- would be.

Energy Results has identified a few basic problems that can help explain why people don’t make changes that will save them money:

  • There is a lack of awareness of the finance options and tax benefits that are out there.
  • Studies have found people have trouble prioritizing which upgrades are the best for their situation.
  • There’s a general reluctance to spend now to save later.
  • There’s a problem of value translation, especially for home value.
  • People’s general perception of retrofits is that the complexity is overwhelming.

To counter some of the misconceptions and lack of awareness, Energy Results allows people to start with something as simple as a low-flow showerhead, smart power strips or compact fluorescents. You can buy those products, and hundreds of others, directly from the website, making it easier to actually follow through on the recommendations.

For larger retrofits, Energy Results will be offering home audits through partners in 2011, but just in the Chicago area. Once the idea is proven, the company plans to take the business to other metro areas and then spread outwards from there. The site currently does account for federal tax credits, but it only links to more information for individual states, although Carlin said they hope to incorporate that data into pricing and payback information in the future.

For the upgrade newbie, once you get some CFLs and a little weather stripping, there are options to look at larger upgrades and evaluate the payback period for each. If you decide to go with major upgrades, audits are recommended at that point.

The website allows you to track your savings once you have made the upgrades, so homeowners can actually see the value of their investment, rather than simply hoping it pays off in the future.

“We really think the solutions are in the market today, as we look at what this market provides -- the ability to evaluate upgrade alternatives, the ability to finance it and the registry where you can track it and prove your upgrades,” said Carlin. “We hope that people see the benefit in having a place that’s a provider of all things.”