Pool and spa professionals now can become certified to perform energy audits.

By month’s end, an online course will be available to teach industry members how to evaluate the energy consumption of pools or spas, and help consumers gain from rebates and other incentive programs.

“This is opening up a tremendous opportunity as more and more states enact energy-efficiency regulations,” said Alex Antoniou, director of educational programs at the National Swimming Pool Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colo., one of the organizations sponsoring the course.

“Pool professionals [who] go to their customers’ residential pools, conduct audits and make recommendations could find a nice additional stream of income and save their clients money,” he added. “Qualified or licensed service guys who are actually conducting the audits [also can do] any work that comes out of the audit.”

The course is offered jointly by the Foundation for Pool & Spa Industry Education, NSPF and Hanley Wood, LLC, which owns Pool & Spa News. The three entered into an alliance last year to offer at least three courses.

The Certified Aquatic Energy Auditor Course first came about when officials at FPSIE noticed that their local energy provider was too short-handed to audit backyard pools and spas. “The utilities have their plates full,” said Michael Orr, executive director of Sacramento, Calif.-based FPSIE. “[In our area] with the amount of auditors they have, it would take 30 years [to audit them all]. They just threw their hands up and said, ‘We have to have a better way.’”

Considering that California and Florida currently have efficiency laws on the books, with New York and Texas considering similar legislation, Orr expects utilities nationwide to face similar dilemmas.

The desire for homeowners to make their properties more energy efficient is well-documented. In 2009, 35 percent of households used caulking or weather-stripping to seal air leaks, while 23 percent insulated their homes, and 60 percent added energy-efficient lighting, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In addition to answering an increasing need for energy efficiency, the auditor class also is geared to help pool and spa professionals maximize earnings.

“Considering the rough economy, this course couldn’t come at a better time,” Pool & Spa News Publisher Dick Coleman said. “It offers a new revenue stream for potentially thousands of service techs, who can get certified and ensure that their customers get the right equipment to properly operate their pools and also receive substantial rebates from local utilities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The course will feature video, photos, interactive tasks and links to resources such as energy calculators to help determine how a system’s efficiency compares with the ideal. Upon completion, a test will determine if the student becomes certified.