Interview with Parker Lahti, Founder, CEO, Senior Efficiency Advisor and Jaime Joseph, Operations Manager, Content Manager, Virtual Advisor of ARUS Consulting. Be sure to follow ARUS Consulting on LinkedIn.
Who is ARUS Consulting?
We are your local energy efficiency testing and advising team. We are unbiased, certified building science experts who are helping achieve community climate goals one household at a time!
Have you received a flyer from Fort Collins Utilities or Xcel Energy suggesting an energy assessment to gain access to efficiency rebates and learn about opportunities to save money and energy in your home? If you sign up, you will likely meet an ARUS advisor. ARUS’s team of building science experts conducts these type of energy assessments across the front range. Headquartered in Fort Collins, ARUS Consulting is a family-owned energy efficiency advising firm dedicated to helping our local communities, homeowners and building occupants reduce residential fuel consumption by providing education, information, and support to plan and enact home efficiency improvement projects. We conduct on–site health, safety, and efficiency testing, develop your custom home efficiency report, and provide personalized advising to individuals and businesses interested in energy efficiency solutions for their buildings.
What support do you need during this time that was missing/what are the challenges you’re still facing today? What type of support do you feel you received?
The biggest challenge we are still facing is employee recruitment. Some online job sites we have used seem to result in a high number of applicants who do not complete the application per the requirements. We are changing tactics and moving away from the online job boards. We are reaching out to industry connections, local universities, and investigating new recruiting methods to find the highly motivated, detail oriented, exceptional independent workers who want to apply their personalities and passion to impacting change in our local communities.
We were extremely lucky during COVID to have the support of the programs and communities that we serve. Along with support from our clients, we received federal support with the PPE loan that helped us to cover salaries and retain employees in the height of the pandemic.
We have an excellent HR consultant that has provided the expertise and support we needed to comply with changing state and federal regulations during COVID. Shout out to VolkBell for their amazing support and HR services.
What’s one thing that would surprise people about your business?
We did not develop an online presence until 2022, five years after starting business under “ARUS”. We started small and had enough work from word-of-mouth and program marketing, really, we still do. The purpose of our online presence is to give customers, clients, and potential employees a way to get to know us and verify ARUS is real, more so than product marketing or company expansion. We do not have a sales team; we are advisors not contractors. We do not have a vested interest in the decisions you make, nor do we receive any kickbacks for the work you do. Our job is to make sure you have the best information, support, and resources to make good decisions for the health, safety, efficiency, and budget of your home.
Also the work ethic and commitment of every employee in our company. Even our CEO works in the field.
How does owning a local business keep you connected to the community?
This type of work keeps us directly connected to the community – the advisors go into homes every day and our customer care specialists start developing relationships with homeowners from the first moment of contact. This level of customer-centric advising keeps our admin team very connected to our field team and the customers we serve.
Our clients and utilities are local, our customers are local, and our employees are local. Because we are local, we support local businesses, events, and the needs of our community.
The energy efficiency community is composed of utilities, municipalities, cities, homeowners, renters, property managers, title companies, realtors, service providers, efficiency advisors, and many more. We are deeply connected within the energy efficiency community. This has led to connections in the wider community, such as being a community partner for the current CSU Indoor Environmental Quality study in partnership with Fort Collins Utilities and the Efficiency Works residential retrofit program.
Do you have any special events, promotions, products upcoming you would like to share with the community?
In Fort Collins, there are a couple amazing promotions for rental properties. Fort Collins Utilities is covering the $60 copay for the Efficiency Works Energy Assessment (this is the most comprehensive energy assessment offered by any program we serve). This means rental owners with residential buildings (single family, duplex, town home, row home, condo, triplex, and up-to quadplexes) can have a FREE energy assessment completed by an ARUS advisor. In addition to covering the $60 copay, Fort Collins Utilities is offering up to $500 bonus on top of regular Efficiency Works Rebates for qualifying air sealing and insulation projects under contract by May 31st, 2022.
The Efficiency Works Virtual Advising Session is currently FREE! The Efficiency Works Program is available to Platte River Power Authority utility customers and customers in its four owner communities of Estes Park Power & Communications, Fort Collins Utilities, Longmont Power & Communications, and Loveland Water and Power. If you are a utility customer with one of these utilities, you are currently eligible for a free Virtual Advising Session.
What’s your #1 energy saving tip for homeowners?
Oh what a doozie! The main tip for each home is different, based on the house-as-a-system approach to our building analysis. Some small changes a homeowner can make today include replacing lightbulbs with high efficiency LED, upgrading from old “energy vampire” appliances to energy star appliances, and installing a smart thermostat. Bigger changes to the building are “retrofit upgrades,” which include air sealing and insulation, windows, HVAC, etc. The best tip I have is to have an energy assessment conducted by a building science expert before you decide to install a bigger furnace or new windows because your house feels cold.
For energy and money saving in the community at large, pay attention to the time-of-day use table provided by the utilities. “Peak Hours” refer to the hours each day when demand for energy is the highest in service region. It is more expensive to use energy during peak hours. This is to incentivize us—the community utility customers–to use energy off-peak. Why is this important? If we’re all using energy from 5-7 PM, then the utility company must have enough capacity to support this load. The Utility sometimes has to buy expensive equipment to support the maximum load at the peak time of use. Then, our utility bills increase. If we all use energy off-peak hours, then we are saving money and energy for our home, and the community at large, by preventing a need for the utility provider to increase capacity.