I’m always on the lookout for developments in the local sustainability industry. USAEnergyGuide was started by three Arizona entrepreneurs passionate about the environment. Realizing that rebate and tax incentives are hard for consumers to navigate, they jumped at the opportunity to create a site that would be simple and user-friendly.
Originally only for Arizona residents, the site has recently expanded to include California and Texas with plans to add more states in the future. USAEnergyGuide is your free online source used to calculate rebates and savings that you can receive by switching to more sustainable forms of energy.
I had the pleasure of meeting with two of the company’s founders — Michael Barber, director of operations and Ken Bonham, director of business development — who took the time to answer a few questions I had about their company.
What led to the creation of USA Energy Guide?
One of our Founders was going through the process of researching how much it would cost to install solar panels on their home, how much they would save on a monthly and yearly basis and what the tax incentives and rebates were, but couldn’t find a site that answered all these questions. So, we sat down and mapped out how we could make this process easier for consumers.
What challenges did you encouter and how were these overcome?
Similar to many startups we had the classic chicken and egg scenario. In order for the company to be successful, we needed installers who matched our qualification criteria and qualified leads (consumers) who were interested in being contacted by these installers. We worked to introduce ourselves to every installer in the markets we served so they could understand how we could help them be successful and also focused on connecting to consumers via social media. Along the way, various local media outlets stumbled across our site and did stories on us. The press stories and word of mouth helped us overcome both these initial challenges.
What are the company’s full line of services?
For consumers, we provide simple ways to understand how much money alternative energy would save them, what rebates and incentives are available in their geographic area and all associated rebates for the products they are interested in. For installers, we provide leads to consumers and business owners who are qualified and ready to purchase these products.
What is your favorite aspect of the industry/company?
Our favorite aspect of the sustainability and alternative energy industry is that it is rapidly expanding and changing every day. There are new advances in solar technology and energy efficiency regularly, and more and more consumers are trying to understand how they can minimize their impact on the environment. This makes every day different and pushes our team to understand how we can help both our customers — installers and consumers — reach their goals.
What kind of a role do you think sustainability plays in today’s Arizona economy?
Right now, the sustainability industry in Arizona is only in its infancy. As costs for alternative energy technology decrease and consumers’ interest in living a greener lifestyle increase, the industry has nowhere to go, but up. However (and this is big however), the industry’s Achilles heel is support from local, state and federal governments. Without broad based government support to spur continued growth, the industry could die a quick death.
What has been the company’s greatest achievement to date?
From the beginning our greatest achievement has been providing information to consumers they couldn’t easily find before. Along with this, it’s the stories we hear from people who have used our site, found qualified installers and are now enjoying solar panels or solar water heaters in their home.
What are your future plans for the company?
While we have been primarily focused on the solar and energy efficiency industries, the sustainability industry goes well beyond those two verticals. We have big plans to not only expand the site beyond those verticals, but become a community where visitors can find a wealth of information across a wide variety of sustainability topics, both on a national and local level.