PriMedia, which developed the first FSA calculator for NORA in 2009, was part of an expert team assembled by NORA to build and disseminate the FSA Calculator 2.0. The calculator is a cloud-based application that enables companies that sell and install oil-fired boilers and combination heat/hot water systems to show customers the estimated energy and financial savings of equipment upgrades.
NORA commissioned the new FSA Calculator to help Oilheat companies sell boilers effectively, using advanced software that performs well on smartphones and tablets. The customized application delivers sophisticated projections on the future performance of oil-heated equipment, which are easy to share with consumers.
With minimal training, a contractor can show a customer a set of comparisons featuring their current heating equipment and as many as three replacement systems. The Calculator uses local degree-day data to ensure precise projections and expresses potential cost savings over five years, 10 years, 15 years and 20 years in one easy-to-read display.
Contractors can help customers appreciate the protection against rising costs that high-efficiency equipment offers by changing the oil price that FSA 2.0 uses in the projections. By using higher prices, they can show the customer the expenditures they can avoid if fuel costs increase.
The FSA Calculator 2.0 also helps equipment salespeople leap the very difficult hurdle created by the widely used Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) metric. AFUE is a measure of how efficient an appliance is in converting the energy in its fuel to heat over the course of a typical year, and the Federal Trade Commission requires all new furnaces and boilers to display their AFUE for the benefit of consumers.
Despite its mandated use, AFUE is ineffective at measuring boiler efficiency, because the metric was formulated to evaluate furnaces and does not measure all aspects of performance in a boiler or combination heat/hot water system. AFUE ratings typically under-represent the energy-savings potential of new oil-fired boilers; a highly efficient boiler can have an AFUE rating virtually identical to a boiler that uses 30 percent more fuel over the course of a year.
Unlike AFUE, the FSA 2.0 accurately reflects the efficiency of different boilers and combination systems. It uses sophisticated measurements developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory by Dr. Thomas A. Butcher that account for idle losses and other factors that AFUE does not consider.
Butcher was a key member of the development team. He was joined by John Huber, of NORA; Roger Marran, of Energy Kinetics; Robert O’Brien, of Technical Heating Co.; Kevin Steele, of H.B. Steele & Son Inc.; John Levey, of NORA; and Don Farrell, of the Oilheat Manufacturers Association and Indoor Comfort Marketing.
They worked with PriMedia Creative Director John Bruno and Lead Developer Patrick Cicchetti to develop the app, as well as the FSA Calculator website and the cloud-based infrastructure that connects NORA to the contractors who use the app.
“We are proud to help NORA provide such an important tool to Oilheat dealers everywhere,” said Bruno. “Dr. Butcher has developed the vital data that helps consumers appreciate the value of modern Oilheat equipment. The FSA Calculator 2.0 expresses that data in a highly readable format that helps consumers see what they can save in their home with a system upgrade.”
When a contractor sells a new system using the updated Calculator, the customer “audit” is submitted automatically to NORA. The Alliance will use the sales data to demonstrate to Congress the benefits that the industry is delivering by improving the efficiency at Oilheat installations. NORA is a government-sanctioned check-off program that supports the Oilheat industry with research, training, energy efficiency, safety and consumer education. Congress approved NORA in 2000 and reauthorized it in 2014. The Alliance will seek to extend its Congressional charter in 2018.
Bruno says the calculator’s data aggregation will help NORA make its case to Congress in two years. “NORA does a great job of improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings that use oil. As contractors leverage the calculator in their sales, NORA will accumulate data that demonstrates broad-based energy savings. This will help Congress understand how NORA’s work is benefiting consumers.”
State and regional Oilheat associations that offer NORA equipment rebates can also use the calculator to automate the reporting of each grant, he noted. PriMedia has developed a powerful infrastructure known as “Upgrade and Save” that makes it easy for associations to manage rebate programs online.
PriMedia is a Google-certified agency that develops software and marketing solutions for businesses of all kinds. Web applications include InVue (customer account management), OnPoint (loyalty rewards), LeadPro (lead tracking), PossiBill (payment solutions), TextPoint (mobile communications) and PricePoint (contract enrollment). The company also offers WebCreate (website solutions) and FireWeb (SEM/SEO/WPO) as well as advertising and marketing for online, print and out-of-home.
To access the FSA Calculator 2.0, visit noraweb.org/fsa.