by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen
Ready to make your home more energy efficient? The first step in beginning a renovation project is finding the right contractor. Here are some things to consider when deciding who to hire.
Educate yourself so you can be in control of your project. Use reputable sources, like energy.gov, energystar.gov or your local electric co-op.
Use that knowledge to judge how each potential contractor proposes to make your home more energy efficient. Some products or methods may not work as claimed, or may be too expensive relative to the energy savings they provide.
Talk to your local building department to find out if your project requires a permit and inspections. Unpermitted work can cause problems if you need to file an insurance claim down the road or when you sell your home.
Ask the right questions of potential contractors. Ask about the product to be installed, the energy savings it should yield and whether it will improve comfort.
Finding a contractor can be a challenge, especially in rural areas. Your electric co-op may be able to provide a list of approved contractors in your area.
Hire someone with a contractor’s license, a local business license and three types of insurance: liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation. Be sure to check references to help ensure quality work.
Once you have settled on a contractor, be sure to get a written contract. It should include “as built” details and specifications that include energy performance ratings you have researched ahead of time.
Be cautious about pre-paying. Keep the upfront payment as low as possible, set benchmarks the contractor must meet to receive the next payment and make sure a reasonable amount of the payment is not due until the project is completed, passes building inspections and you are fully satisfied. If you don’t feel qualified to approve the project, you could even require testing or inspection by an independent energy auditor.
This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency. For more ideas on energy efficiency, please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/energytips.