“Summertime and the living is easy….” But is it? Is it ever easy for home performance professionals? We don’t have to tell you how busy it gets when it is, “Hot, hot hot…” outside. Whew! Hopefully, you can take a breather and read our “cool” newsletter.
Starting right off, how about somechillingly scary stuff? Cyber Threats! That should be enough to send chills up your spine. It seems every time you turn on the news you hear about cyber threats and companies having their data corrupted by viruses, stolen or held for ransom. Don’t think it just happens to huge companies like Sony and Target. It doesn’t. It could happen to you. It could be as simple as someone hacking into your email or Facebook page and holding it for ransom. Not convenient or fun in the least. Here's a list of a few things you can do to protect yourself and your company.
Cyber Security – a few basic tips & reminders To make up for frightening you we’ll start with the Most Important Tip!
Educate your employees. The more your employees know about cyber-attacks and how to protect your data, the better off you’ll be. It may be as simple as reminding them not to open attachments from people they don’t know or expect, posting procedures for encrypting personal or sensitive information so they don’t forget, or requiring them to change their passwords regularly.
Create a regular backup plan for all data stored offsite. Any cost-effective cloud storage provider is a good start.
To combat the latest threats, use only name brand security software on every computer, tablet and laptop that is automatically updated.
Update all operating systems regularly and never use unsupported outdated software.
Verify all firewalls have the latest security patches installed.
Verify the Wi-Fi network within the company and at the job site is secure, encrypted and has a long and strong password. Set up MAC filtering to only accept pre-approved employee devices.
If an employee does get their email address hacked, here are some tips on what to do.
About the Author
Joanne is the Marketing and Communications Manager at BPI.
BPI and Industry News
Building Performance Industry News and Discussion
Discounts on Building Performance Association Membership for BPI Stakeholders As you probably know, Home Performance Coalition, Home Energy Magazine, and Efficiency First have joined forces to become the Building Performance Association. We are committed to working with the Association to promote home performance.
BPI encourages you to join the Association by picking up the entire cost of the 2019 membership for our BPI GoldStar Contractors and BPI Test Centers signed up by June 30, 2019. BPI will pay half of the membership fee for BPI Certified Professionals signed up by June 30th, 2019. Learn more here and join today! Click here for more information.
“The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
The Home Depot PRO Xtra Loyalty Program We continuously aim to bring you opportunities and value for the investments you make in our services. One of these opportunities is the Home Depot PRO Xtra Loyalty Program. We are participating in this beneficial program with the Building Performance Association.
If you enroll your credit card(s) through the Home Depot PRO Xtra Loyalty Program, you will be eligible for a one percent (1%) rebate on all your expenditures at Home Depot each year. The rebate may be used to access services and benefits from BPI or the Association. Note: This rebate is on top of any other benefit the credit card you register already delivers. If you sign up for the program by the end of December 2019, ALL purchases made at Home Depot using the registered credit card(s) throughout 2019, will apply to the program rebates. You will receive an email directly from Home Depot, tracking your progress. You will also see your “PRO Xtra Statement” on your Home Depot receipts. Significant discounts for Home Depot can be achieved by making your larger purchases at Home Depot's Pro Desk. These discounts vary by product but can amount to serious savings for you! Talk to the Pro Desk at your Home Depot for more details. The Association and BPI are currently working with 2018 Home Depot PRO Xtra Loyalty Program participants to find out how they’d like to spend their rebate. What about you? Have you signed up yet? Please contact BPI or BPA for sign-up information. For PRO Xtra program support, please call: 866-333-3551.
More about Perks Speaking of perks, have you taken advantage of our BPI Perks yet? You can find discounts on operating expenses with vendors like Office Depot and FedEx. If you need promotional products for a trade show or to leave behind at a client's home, check out the discounts with 4imprint. How about that summer concert you are itching to buy tickets for, a family trip to a theme park, or discount movie tickets? Check out the Ticket Deals. There is a lot to choose from, but why choose? Take advantage of them all! Visit the BPI Perks page to see all available discounts. BPI Stakeholders can access the discounts by logging into your BPI Account, going to the News & Resources section, selecting the "BPI Stakeholder Discounts" folder and opening the "BPI Perks" document. For BPI Product Listing manufacturers, Rater Companies, and CEU providers, please email us to get registered. Cheers to a summer filled with perks!
Not Your Average Jo If you attended the Home Performance Coalition (now Building Performance Association) Conference and Trade Show in Chicago this past April, you may have had the pleasure of meeting Jo McAninch from North Carolina. Jo is a BPI Certified Building Analyst and Quality Control Inspector and has been in the weatherization and home performance industries since 2006. When Jo first started in weatherization, she was the only woman on her seventeen-person crew. From that job she moved into being an Energy Auditor and performing final inspections. At that time, it was still unusual for a woman to perform energy audits. In fact, it was odd enough that Jo had her company use her middle name (Jo) instead of her first name when they booked her appointments. This way a customer wouldn’t realize she was a woman until she showed up. They might be surprised at first, but she’d do the work and earn their respect. After that, Jo began working for the state. She currently works for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. It is amazing to see how far women have come in our industry. Now most customers wouldn’t bat an eye at having a woman perform the work. Thank you, Jo, for being professional, knowledgeable and a pioneer in the industry Here is Jo in an 18" x 14" space
Congratulations! We congratulate two of our BPI GoldStar Contractors - RJ Walsh Associates, Inc. in East Windsor, NJ and Airtight Services, Inc., in Marion, NY, for being named 2019 “Best of HomeAdvisor” Award Winners! RJ Walsh Associates employs BPI Certified Professional, Thomas Reinstadler and Airtight Services Inc. employs BPI Certified Professional, Bradley Cherin. HomeAdvisor selects Home Service Professionals based on their commitment to excellent service and value. BPI GoldStar Contractors agree to perform their home performance work to BPI standards, so it is no surprise these companies are winners!
We also congratulate Eko Smart Solutions, LLC in Alexandria, VA and BPI Certified Professional, Daryl Smith for being awarded a 2019 “Best of HomeAdvisor” Award! This award honors professionals who provide high quality service in the home improvement, repair and maintenance industries. Way to go!
More congratulations are in order for BPI GoldStar Contractor, Appolo Heating in Schenectady, NY. They were just awarded the SEAT Centers’ 2019 “Colliding Forces Impact Award for, Employer of the Year (Small/Mid-Sized Business).” According to SEAT, “Individuals and businesses receiving this award believe in the strength and potential of young people and are transformers within their communities.” Appolo Heating and the other honorees will receive their awards during a ceremony on June 27, 2019. The Social Enterprise and Training Center (SEAT Center) provides education and training for underrepresented populations, businesses and communities, with a strong focus on serving young adults. They hire program graduates to provide residential and commercial fee-for-service work that delivers community impact at a competitive price. For more information, visit here.
We'd like to recognize Darlene Welch, a member of BPI's Technical Team who was recently recognized by Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY with a GSUSA National Appreciation Award. Darlene devotes a lot of her "free time" to the Girl Scouts as they work to make the world a better place. Look for more detailed information on BPI's social media accounts.
BPI GoldStars in the Summer Sky We respect our BPI GoldStar Contractors immensely. These businesses are truly the cream of the crop and committed to be the best. We know that you love perks as much as we do. Here are some of the perks of being a BPI GoldStar Contractor.
• Priority placement on BPI's contractor locator tool on both the BPI Professionals and Homeowners' websites. A new and better Locator Tool is in the works and we'll be sending more information as it becomes available. • Free contractor-to-contractor mentoring by other BPI GoldStar Contractors • Free webinars and partially subsidized training in business and quality management, sales, and marketing • Three (3) $100 rebates (up to $300 total, per calendar year) to be used towards new certification exam fees, certification renewal fees, or conference fees for technical staff (eligible proof must be provided) • 20% discount off Building Science Principles (BSP) Reference Guide and online exam for staff • Co-branded printable marketing materials • Direct Access to BPI Client Relations Representative (CRR) and BPI Ask the Expert
To learn how to apply to be a BPI GoldStar Contractor, please visit here.
How healthy is your home? A New Reference Guide and Certificate are Coming! You may be familiar with our Building Science Principles Guide and Certificate (BSP). BPI is now working on the release of its Healthy Housing Principles (HHP) Reference Guide and exam, with an expected release date in October 2019. We are very excited to offer a special day of training in January of 2020, prior to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Inc., (ACEEE) 2020 Conference on Health, Environment, and Energy to be held in New Orleans! More details to come. You can find more information about the conference here.
Big Advances in Pending WAP Reauthorization Bill An omnibus bill on improving the nation’s infrastructure contains a section to reauthorize the Weatherization Assistance Program to appropriate “$350,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024. The amount appropriated in fiscal year 2019 was $257,000,000.
In addition, the legislation for the first time states that the “Secretary may amend the regulations prescribed…to take into consideration improvements in the health and safety of occupants of dwelling units, and other non-energy benefits, from weatherization.” The legislation also includes language allowing the WAP program to address issues that previously would have resulted in a deferral of the unit. “The purpose of this section,” the bill reads, is “to expand the number of dwelling units that are occupied by low-income persons that receive weatherization assistance by making such dwelling units weatherization-ready.” The bill also contains language for training HVAC contractors whose services may be required in weatherization work.
The Building Performance Association is closely monitoring the progress of this legislation.
About the Author
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, BPI creates national standards for residential energy efficiency work and, from those standards, professional certifications for home contractors.
How Your Connected Technology Gets Connected
By Henry Loos
You might have heard of or even have a few devices in your home that are “Connected.” You might have a refrigerator that shows you whether Ralph stole that last piece of pie, or a thermostat that lets you warm up the house from your phone before you get home from that big win in Las Vegas. These devices have added much convenience, and even some fun, into our lives; but it becomes easy to take them for granted, without understanding how they’re doing what they’re doing for us. So, what’s really going on behind the scenes, and what does it mean for our health and well-being at home?
When Ralph’s refrigerator was delivered, it had to be connected to the home WiFi. Once that was done, the refrigerator “Phoned Home” like E.T., and established a connection with a server operated or leased by the manufacturer (usually) of the appliance. The refrigerator identifies itself and begins passing data from its various sensors to the server. The owner then downloads an app to their smartphone. The app prompts them to create a new account with the provider, and then add the information for their appliance, either by typing it or scanning a barcode on the appliance label. The server then marries the stream of data coming from the appliance to the owner’s account, and that stream of data can be given useful purpose letting you know to buy more milk or busting Ralph taking that last piece of pie. In its basic form, this is the way nearly all our connected devices provide their additional value to us. These servers, or groups of servers, were called exactly that in past days; now, we simply refer to them as the “Cloud.”
While your health and well-being can certainly be enhanced by your refrigerator, there are many more connected devices contributing to the Internet of Things (IoT) that have a greater effect. In the spectrum of healthier living can be found devices like indoor air quality meters (IAQs.) Just like refrigerators and toasters, IAQ meters come in connected versions. Again, these units communicate with a server, and you connect through that same server to receive the information the meter has for you.
Foobot is an IAQ meter that comes with an app that aims to educate you on the causes and consequences of your activities and how they affect air quality at each of the monitoring locations in your home. It provides you with real-time readings and charts of each pollutant over a period, starting from day one. IAQ meters like Foobot want to help you identify pollution sources and patterns more easily, so you can address them to make your home as pollution free as possible. Some of these units can also share the data they collect with your doctor or whomever you choose. This allows for the statistical analysis of the data that enhances health knowledge in general. This data being made available in this way can aid entire municipalities in tracking air quality problems, and often zero in on the sources.
Nest provides a centralized way to interact with video doorbells, cameras, thermostats, smoke detectors, etc., not just Nest branded, but many Nest compatible. Nest centralizes the functions and features of all these devices, like a mini-Alexa. But then Alexa can cooperate with Nest and roll all those functions up with other Alexa compatible but not Nest compatible products, into a large group of services intended to make your life better. Like before, Alexa is interacting with Nest, which is in turn interacting with its sub-products. The result is that you have a much simpler way to use the devices around your home, and they still do everything they were designed to do.
BPI is not endorsing one product or brand over another; the intent is to explain how the connected devices interact and briefly touch on how they affect our day to day lives.
Next time, we’ll talk about some of the pitfalls associated with your connected home, as well as some specific setups to make it a healthier and more comfortable place to live. For now, my refrigerator wants to talk; something about pie, and I have a bad feeling.
About the Author
Henry Loos is an Electrical and Applications Engineer with over 25 years' experience in solving industrial puzzles. He is currently the VP of Engineering for AAI, a Power-Flo Technologies Company. In his spare time, he enjoys boating, snowboarding and adventures on his Harley. He is also a big fan of pie.
Stump the Chump
Let's Play Stump the Chump!
By Chumper McChumperson
Stump the Chump? Send in a Stumper and Earn 2 BPI CEUs! The Stump the Chump segment in BPI’s newsletter is the most popular part of the monthly publication. If you submit a Stumper, you'll get: an opportunity to share your technical knowledge, free individual and company advertising with a link to your company website, and 2 BPI CEUs. Also, we will choose one submission at random to win a Home Depot $100 Gift Card. It is a big win all around! For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Chumper is the editor of Stump the Chump and not very busy without your submissions.