As your cooperative, United Power wants to be more than your source of electricity. We also want to be your source of information for energy efficiency home improvement projects. Some of those projects, such as heat pump, electric thermal storage (ETS) or solar panel installations.
To make sure you get those energy savings, it’s important to make sure you are researching and selecting the best contractor to get the job done correctly and on time.
Before Hiring a Contractor
Before you search for a contractor, do a little research. Gain an understanding of what energy efficient products are available to you, and which ones will provide the most energy savings for you and your family.
Some products or methods marketed as effective energy efficiency solutions may not work as well as they claim, or may be too expensive relative to the energy savings they provide. You can find information about energy efficient products by contacting a United Power energy management expert at 303-659-0551 or through one of the following energy management sources:
You’ll also want to verify through your local building department whether a permit and/or inspection will be required before renovations may begin or after they are completed. Some contractors may suggest foregoing a permit, but this may cause problems down the road if an insurance claim needs to be filed or if you try to sell your home.
Now that you’ve armed yourself with some knowledge about the product you’re interested in installing and researched municipal requirements before conducting renovations, you’re ready to start looking for the right contractor.
Hiring a Contractor
Hiring the right contractor can be a difficult and time consuming process, but it’s every bit as important as the product you are purchasing. Due diligence is critical to ensure you get the best system, for a fair price.
Below are some worksheets with questions to ask potential contractors.
Whether you decide to go with a large general contractor or a small specialty contractor, be sure to hire someone with a contractor’s license, a local business license and three types of insurance: liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation. To verify the quality of work the contractor has provided on previous jobs, ask for a list of references. Use references to check for a history of cost-control, timeliness, good communication, results and – most importantly – quality of previous jobs.
Once you’ve settled on a contractor, be sure to get a written contract, including “as built” details and specifications that include energy performance ratings you researched ahead of time. Contracts should include:
- Name of individual doing the installation
- Energy efficient ratings, including:
- Insulation – Specific R value
- Replacing a Furnace – Make, model, AFUE (annual fuel use efficiency) and COP (coefficient of performance) ratings (ask that an efficiency test be conducted before and after the work)
- Air Conditioner – Make, model and EER (energy efficiency ratio)
- Solar Panels – Make, model, solar panel rating, power tolerance and solar cell efficiency
- Whether contractor must pay for necessary permits
Be cautious about requests to pre-pay for work. When possible, keep up-front payment as low as possible and set benchmarks the contractor must meet to receive the next payment. Make sure a reasonable amount of payment is not due until work is complete and passes inspections.