If you are interested in helping others save money on their energy bills AND make a living with a work-from-home job, geothermal energy may be the niche to hop into. In our previous article from this series, we explained what geothermal energy is, the benefits of this renewable energy source, the return on investment, and incentives for people who elect to upgrade to geothermal heating and cooling systems in their homes and businesses. In this edition, we will talk about how you can make a living in this business niche, as well as help people save money on their energy bills.
Geothermal energy trends are gaining increasing support from the U.S. government. According to The Green Economy Post, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “We have an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like solar and geothermal energy.”
Job Opportunities in Geothermal Energy
Mark Schultz, the owner of a geothermal installation company in Annapolis, Maryland said that it is a challenge to own a geothermal business; however he also admitted that it was also “a lot of fun”.
The more obvious and lowest initial investment work-from-home career that is available in geothermal energy is the home installation technician. However, it is important not to overlook the many other opportunities that this up-and-coming heating and cooling option offers to people interested in making money from home. Fortunately, most of these opportunities do not require high overhead or a large initial investment to jump into.
On the lower end of the investment spectrum are consulting and installation training. This level of work requires extensive knowledge of geothermal energy systems and how to install them. Implementing geothermal plants of medium size or manufacturing plants that produce the accessories and components that are necessary for the geothermal industry would require a medium investment. Highest on the initial investment scale are the skills and requirements that are essential to implement manufacturing plants of a large scale that produce geothermal parts and components, or setting up centralized geothermal plants.
Another option for a work-at-home geothermal business is sales: the selling and distribution of parts and components, including geothermal heat pumps. The initial investment of this type of job would depend on whether the sales person keeps the parts and components in stock at their location, or decides to sell and ship for a third party. Obviously, keeping parts and components in stock, on site, would require accurate inventory procedures and space to store the items but it is also more profitable overall.
Starting Your Own Geothermal Installation Company
Probably the best part about starting your own geothermal installation company is the ability to help people save money on their electricity and heating and cooling bills. Besides the rebates and incentives that are offered by geothermal installation companies and the tax breaks that are provided by the government, the biggest selling point of these systems is the return on investment, which was discussed in Part 1 on this series.
Knowledge and Certification
Before striking out into the industry of geothermal installation, you would need to have a good understanding of HVAC. While HVAC certification would be a plus, which is normally a two-year course and a $6,000 to $14,000 investment, it is not required in order to start your own geothermal installation company. However, the knowledge that is acquired through these classes is vital for anyone who wants to own a geothermal installation company. Mmany of the certifying institutions offer communities where certified people can market their skills, their knowledge, and their businesses as well.
On a more economical level, the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) offers a certification course where you will learn everything that you would possibly need to understand about the installation of geothermal heat pumps. This course lasts merely 3 days, and costs only $550; however you will still need a general understanding about HVAC in order to get the most out of this course. In addition to the certification that you receive, the IGSHPA will also list you on their site as a geothermal heat pump professional, which gives you immediate exposure to potential consumers.
Remember, the higher the knowledge and skill level you achieve, the better your chances are of avoiding potential time consuming and costly pitfalls that may occur during the designing and development of a geothermal installation project.
Rent or Buy Equipment – Or Simply Hire a Professional?
Starting off, equipment can be rented for each individual job contract. In the long run, however, it may be more cost-effective to purchase the equipment that is necessary to perform the work, rather than paying exorbitant rental costs every time you sign a contract for a job. Or, you can simply hire an excavator to handle the digging. Once you add your rental or equipment costs and the time it takes to dig the trenches for the piping, you will find that hiring an excavator may be the best decision when first starting out.
The same is true for the duct work inside the building or the house; it may be more cost effective and beneficial for the success of the project to simply hire a professional to install it. Flushing and fusion, if you are not completely comfortable performing these vital aspects of geothermal installation, can also be outsourced.
When considering outsourcing these aspects of the project or hiring your own employees, remember that the overall performance of the entire geothermal system can be increased by ensuring that all working parts are designed and implemented by professionals with the highest level of knowledge and expertise. Also, consumers will spread the word to other potential consumers if they are satisfied with the work that you perform and the savings that they incur.
Permits and Contractors License
In order for homeowners to claim tax credits and rebates from utility companies, the proper permits will need to be obtained. A contractor may need to be part of the installation process for these credits and rebates, as well. Therefore, the cost of a contractor’s license for home improvement, HVAC, or plumbing and the cost of permits will need to be factored in to assess the cost of each project.
Marketing Your Geothermal Company
Fliers and business cards are low-cost initial forms of advertising. Plus, if you did pursue the course offered by the IGSHPA, you would automatically be added to their geothermal heat pump professionals listing. Once you have installed a few systems and your customers receive their first heating and cooling bills, word of mouth about your services will start to circulate. As a “free” form of advertising, word of mouth probably outweighs most other types, because friends and family are recommending your services to people who they think would need or want to save money on their energy bills.
If the geothermal revolution is something that you find an interest in and you would like to start your own company, the marketing should be the easy part. You can focus on the eco-friendly aspects and cost efficiency that geothermal energy offers when promoting your services. It feels good to introduce potential customers to a system that will help them save money on their heating and cooling costs, and they will feel good about contributing to a cleaner environment.