Starting a changeout program doesn't mean working from scratch. These do's and don'ts are a collection of best practices observed when administering programs nationwide.
- Schedule the Changeout to occur in late winter or early spring. Fall and early winter are the busiest season for hearth retailers, so they will have more time and energy to devote to the project in late winter or early spring. An incentive in the Fall may be wasted on consumers who were already planning to upgrade on their own.
- Encourage the lead program administrator to offer an incentive for both the stove and an additional incentive for the installation. In many cases, grants that only cover the cost of a stove replacement will not provide enough of an incentive for families to participate in the changeout.
- Require professional installation by an NFI-certified installer or another licensed professional you approve. All of these products work best and most efficiently when professionally installed.
- Identify a local champion to coordinate projects. Coordinating these projects is a time intensive job and requires a knowledgeable local leader.
- Provide all participating dealers with access to electronic submittal of all forms, documents, and images.
- Provide potential customers with access to all the details on how the changeout incentives will work. Earned media likely won’t explain all the fine print, so offer a website, point-of-sale brochure and/or phone number.
- Work with other relevant government agencies (social services, WIC, LIHEAP, etc.) to distribute information to their clients when targeting low-income families for changeouts.
- Establish clear guidelines for what constitutes a changeout, such as:
- Customer must have a working, pre-1992 stove
- Stove must have been used in the most recent winter
- Stove must be a primary or secondary source of heat for the house
- Stove must be used in the homeowner’s primary residence
- Emphasize efficiency and safety gains when talking to potential changeout participants.
- Don’t underestimate the volume of calls that will come in once a program is announced. If the public is given a phone number to call for additional information, be sure it’s adequately staffed.
- Don’t schedule changeouts in the fall. September to November is typically the busiest season for dealers. Dealers will be better-equipped to assist consumer questions at other times of the year.
- Don’t assume that consumers will pay for changeouts based on air quality benefits. They need a tangible, personal benefit before expending their own money and time on a changeout.