Ensuring high quality energy efficiency work

By Patrick Keegan

Dear Pat: I want to make my home more energy efficient, but some of the work needed is more than I can do by myself. When I’m hiring contractors to do these projects, how can I be sure that the work is of good quality? – Jerry C.

Dear Jerry: The good news is there are many contractors performing high-quality energy efficiency work. You’re smart to 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 and experienced 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.

Using an auditor throughout your home energy upgrade will cost several hundred dollars, but it can pay off in a number of ways: you will know what work is truly needed, and you can prevent poor quality or incomplete work. Your electric co-op may offer a free or discounted audit by one of its energy advisors, or it may have a list of trusted energy auditors in the area. In some areas, there are home performance contractors experienced in whole home energy efficiency upgrades who can perform the energy audit themselves and then complete the 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 co-ops offer financial incentives and know of contractors who have experience or training with energy efficiency.

  • How clean does the work area need to be at the end of each day?
  • What is the daily work schedule?

It’s best not to pay the contractor until work is completed and inspected. You and the energy auditor should both inspect the work. Your co-op’s energy advisor may also be able to inspect or give you advice for what to look for. 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!

This column was co-written by Pat Keegan and Amy Wheeless of Collaborative Efficiency. For more information on ensuring quality energy efficiency work, please visit: www.collaborativeefficiency.com/energytips or email Pat Keegan at energytips@collaborativeefficiency.com.