Now that its home improvement-centric big box brethren are selling personal wind turbines and offering solar leasing estimates, what’s a mega-retailer specializing in home electronics and appliances to do when it comes to the residential energy game?


Late week, Minnesota-based consumer electronics behemoth Best Buy announced the launch of an online Home Energy Learning Center — in-store experimental learning centers can be found at three stores in Chicago, Houston and San Carlos, Calif. — geared to help consumers make energy-wise purchasing decisions and improve their home’s overall energy performance. Best Buy shoppers can also partake in an in-depth whole-home energy assessment in less than five minutes or simply discover how much moola can be saved by making specific appliance/electronics upgrades. There’s also an Energy Star rebate finder and a search tool that lets consumers in certain parts of the country schedule home energy audits with just a click of a button. The three brick-and-mortar learning centers will feature similar services along with a consultation bar and product demos.


Says Neil McPhail, senior vice president of Best Buy’s new business customer solutions group, in a press release:


Through several small-scale experiments over the past two years, from home energy audits to installation of home charging stations for electric vehicles, we have learned there is real consumer interest in options to cut energy costs and use in their lives, particularly in the home. Our role is to help consumers make the most of the technology in their lives, and the Home Energy concept is our latest experiment that will demonstrate the knowledge and expertise of our employees, and how our brands and our channels can help consumers understand how to own, use, and maintain energy efficient technologies.

A fantastic and not entirely surprising move from a retailer that’s already a leader in sustainability initiatives (on a related note, Best Buy recently dropped the $10 fee associated with recycling items with screens through its in-store electronics recycling program). I looked at the online Home Energy Learning Center and it’s quite robust and informative. Take a look around and let me know what you think in the comments section. And on the topic of learning and home energy savings, I should also mention that the Nest, the $250 smart thermostat recently unveiled by two Apple expats, is sold out at Best Buy until 2012.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Blue retailer gets greener with home energy resource
Best Buy enters the home energy-efficiency game by launching an interactive, info-packed Home Energy Learning Center online and at three brick-and-mortar stores