Dwight Bailey has sat down at many kitchen tables to discuss with potential customers one of the biggest home appliance purchases they may ever make: an HVAC system. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and it heats homes in the winter and cools them in the summer.
Bailey doesn’t take this part of the job lightly. He spends a couple of hours with each customer, not only learning what they need in a new HVAC, but also getting to know them on a personal level. “I was with one customer who was the secretary to Mamie Eisenhower,” recalls the salesman for City Heating and Air.
A new HVAC can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars, so one of Bailey’s biggest goals is to provide customers peace of mind with their purchase.
“We have a good reputation,” says City Heating and Air owner Mike Davis. “We’ve always tried to put the customers first. We want what’s best for them, not what’s best for us.” Company reputation means quite a bit to Davis. Working with a limited advertising budget, the Knoxville-based company relies on word of mouth, which holds a lot of worth.
Davis regularly puts in 12-hour days, getting into the office around 6 each morning, looking at every service call his team will be working for the day. He flags repeated service calls for possible issues and manages any emergencies that pop up. It’s this attention to detail that garnered City Heating and Air an award for Contractor of Year from TVA EnergyRight® Residential Program for several years. The company is also a legacy contractor with EnergyRight’s Quality Contractor Network.
“I think it holds us to a higher standard,” says Davis.
Training and continuing education
Contractors in TVA EnergyRight’s QCN are provided initial training before joining the network, but the education doesn’t stop there. They receive continuous instruction on an ongoing basis.
“They have a lot of good training. If there is new technology, we can watch videos or take classes on airflow, insulation, air sealing — all the things that affect the homeowner,” says Davis.
About an hour and a half southwest of Nashville, Ray Brewer has been running his HVAC business for nearly 35 years with his son. He’s been part of the QCN for about 20 of those years and says it helped improve his skills over that time. “EnergyRight is very particular about the quality of the work. We had to bring our game up,” says Brewer.
Brewer works closely with Nathan Wagner, an energy specialist at Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative, who oversees the QCN members in his area.
“TVA EnergyRight puts them through a set of standards set forth by the Department of Energy. It provides the best outcomes for our members. They’re getting good, efficient work. We always say we serve our members, not the meter,” says Wagner.
EnergyRight inspection gives customers peace of mind
Once a QCN contractor completes the work, EnergyRight inspects it to ensure it’s done correctly. Wagner is one of the inspectors. “I will check the insulation, heat pumps, whatever it may be to make sure that they meet those standards,” says Wagner.
QCN members must maintain a 96% passing rate. Wagner works with his contractors before his inspection to make sure they provide high-quality work. “I give them all the information they need up front to perform a pre-inspection before I arrive. It ensures they’ve checked all their boxes and done everything they needed. Then when I arrive, I examine their work to make sure they checked all those boxes and to make sure everything is operating correctly.”
Zack Dawson has been with Capitol Window and Door in a sales position for several years and took over as owner in February 2020. The Bowling Green, Kentucky, company has been installing windows for nearly 65 years. “The reason many people purchase windows is because their current windows are wearing out, and they want something that’s efficient and will help them save on their utility bills,” says Dawson.
For the past 10 years, they’ve been installing windows as a TVA EnergyRight-approved and trained contractor. Dawson welcomes the oversight offered by EnergyRight, saying it ultimately benefits his customers. “If you’re the customer, and you’re replacing your windows, why would you not want to have a third party make sure it was done correctly? When I purchase a used car, I take it to a mechanic who does not work at the dealership to inspect it.” For local power companies, the partnership with TVA EnergyRight to offer the QCN helps them when customers reach out with questions. “When customers call and they’re concerned about their energy consumption, it’s already a stressful situation,” says Knoxville Utilities Board spokesperson Stephanie Midgett. “But by guiding them to TVA EnergyRight’s QCN, that’s just an added bonus to provide peace of mind. We know the customers are in good hands, and they’re going to get the results that they desire.”
“Sometimes finding a contractor to do work for you can be a job in itself,” adds Scott Duvall with Warren Rural Electric Co-Op Corporation. “You worry if the person is going to do a good job. Are they going to get me the results I want? When you go through the QCN, you don’t have to worry about that.”
Selecting a contractor for the QCN doesn’t come with any extra cost, but it does come with additional peace of mind. Visit our website to find a TVA-qualified contractor in your area.