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Ensuring High Quality Energy Efficiency Work

Source: Rural Electric Nebraskan

Do you want to make your home more energy efficient? Do you want to do some work yourself but hire contractors to help with some of the energy efficieny projects? How can you be sure that the quality of work will be good?

The good news is there are many contractors performing high-quality energy efficiency work. First figure out what you can do to ensure your contractors deliver the kind of quality you're paying for.

The best quality assurance solution for most homeowners is to start with a home energy audit by a qualified Energy Auditor. Ask the auditor to specify the products and the quality standards for each recommended efficiency measure. The auditor can also help you by agreeing to inspect the finished work.

Once you have a clear idea and a description of the work that needs to be done, you'll need to identify contractors. Some utilities offer financial incentives and know of contractors who have training in energy efficiency work. The energy auditor can also help you with questions to ask potential contractors.

Here are a few key points to ask a contractor when making energy efficiency improvements:

  • For heating and cooling projects: How will the contractor decide what size equipment is needed in your home? Will they inspect duct work and insulation throughout the home? 

  • For insulation and weatherization upgrades: What is your insulation level now? What should it be? Will the contractor find and seal any air leaks before installing the insulation?
  • For all projects: Who will actually be at your home doing the work — the person you are talking to? An installer employed by the same company? Or a sub-contractor?  Make sure to research before fully engaging a contractor: 
  • Don't take the first offer: Try to get at least two bids. The lowest quote might not necessarily be the best. Sometimes it's hard to compare bids unless they are itemized correctly. If one quote is significantly lower than others, ask about the reasons for the difference.
  • Check contractors' work: Ask for and check references, read online reviews and ask local experts about any experience they have with the contractor.  Make sure you and the contractor agree on a written description of the work, the timeframe for completion and the price. If the contractor offers an estimate instead of a firm bid, you should ask what might cause the final bill to be higher than the estimate.
  • How often will the contractor communicate with you about the status of the project?
  • How clean is the work area at the end of each day?
  • What is the daily work schedule? You should never pay the contractor until work is completed and inspected. You and the energy auditor should both inspect the work. For example, is the window flashing installed correctly? Are the ducts sealed properly?
  • Finally, if you have a good experience with a contractor, pass the information along to friends and neighbors, or write a helpful review — a good home contractor can be hard to find!