The California Community Savings Initiative is providing an innovative way to learn about energy efficiency upgrades. The initiative—run by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), a subgrantee of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partner in Los Angeles County, and the City of Chula Vista, California—provides demonstration home tours of installed energy efficiency upgrades. During the tours, neighbors hear testimonials from demonstration homeowners and take a firsthand look at contractors' work. Not only do tour participants learn about their neighbors' experiences, but they can also ask questions of the contractors who installed the upgrades, then sign up for an energy assessment of their own home for less than $50. In addition, the tours provide information about program incentives available to homeowners and the energy and money they can save by upgrading.

Contractors were very pleased with the work that was generated from the tours. "The neighborhood program in Chula Vista produced the highest quality of leads for ASI. This was one of the most cost effective tactics we've done," says Ken Justo of ASI Hastings Heating & Air.

To advertise the demonstration home tours, the initiative uses a combination of local and social media, such as newspapers, fliers, Facebook posts, email blasts, and directional road signs. The road signs have proven to be the most effective marketing tool, with 40% of tour-goers learning about the event from the signs. Marketing efforts also take advantage of CCSE's partners, including the City of Chula Vista and San Diego Gas and Electric, to reach more area homeowners by co-branding promotional flyers.

The demonstration home tours have successfully promoted both energy assessments and the contractors who perform them. Between January 28 (when the initiative formally launched) and April 21, 2012, about 25% of the home tour participants signed up for an energy assessment with a contractor. The initiative considers these strong leads for the contractors, because the relationships are built on a face-to-face meeting at the home tour.