How to Hire Energy Contractors for Energy Efficiency Projects
Choosing the right energy contractors is an important consideration when planning energy-related improvements for your home.
Start with a list of names that you gather from friends and neighbors who have completed energy-related projects. Ask managers of lumber, hardware, and appliance dealers who they trust to work on their homes.
Ask the best contractors on your list to give you a cost estimate or bid. Be as specific as you can about exactly what benefits you want from the job and what technical details are important to you. Note differences between the suggestions and comments each contractor makes.
The more informed you are about the details, the better a job you’re likely to receive.
Points to Remember
Note these suggestions:
- Prefer contractors that provide a complete range of energy efficiency solutions.
- Accompany contractors on their inspections. Ask questions.
- Don’t purchase on price alone. When contracting for insulation, for example, compare both R-value and price.
- Compare the warranties offered by the contractors you’re considering.
- Get a written bid that includes all the important details.
- Work with the successful bidder to convert the details on the bid to a written, legally binding contract.
- Monitor the job for compliance with the contract.
- Help your contractor formulate a payment plan that ensures completion and performance while being fair to the contractor. The payment plan should be part of the contract.
Avoid contractors who display the following characteristics:
- Willing to do the job at an unusually low price.
- Won’t provide references.
- Won’t provide a written estimate or contract.
- Requires full or substantial payment before work begins.
- Uses high-pressure sales methods.
- Asks you to obtain the necessary permits.
See The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency for simple practical energy-efficiency ideas.
Are You an Energy Contractor?
Home Performance improvement projects require qualified Energy Contractors. We can do energy audits until the cows come home, but if we don’t make any real energy efficiency improvements then the audits are a waste. If you are an energy contractor you should consider the points above from the customer’s perspective. How can you be the right contractor for customers that are following our advice?
Follow these suggestions:
- Provide references.
- Provide a complete range of energy efficiency solutions.
- Ask customers to accompany you on your inspections. Encourage them to ask questions.
- Don’t sell your services on price alone. For example, help customers understand the relationship between insulation R-value and the price of insulation.
- Provide warranties to your customers, and understand what warranties your competition offers.
- Provide a written estimate that includes all the important details for the project.
- Make sure you convert the details on your bid into a written, legally binding contract.
- Make sure your work is in compliance with the contract.
- Establish a payment plan in your contract that’s fair to you and that helps the customer trust that you’ll finish the job.
Don’t do these things:
- Bid the job at an unusually low price.
- Require full or substantial payment before work begins.
- Use high-pressure sales methods.
- Ask your customer to obtain the necessary permits.
Do you want to run a successful home-performance contracting business? Check out these lessons in our business series.