Steps to finding the right energy efficiency contractor
Considering investing in the energy efficiency of your home? Take a few simple steps to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Step 1: Find an expert with a good reputation
There are many great Island companies doing energy efficiency work. Some of these companies are part of our Network of Excellence. Using a Network of Excellence contractor is required for some, but not all, efficiencyPEI rebates. You must use a Network of Excellence contractor to be eligible for a heat pump rebate and you must used a Network of Excellence solar installer to get a solar rebate.
Network of Excellence contractors are trained and knowledgeable about the materials and processes that make buildings more energy efficient. They know about efficiencyPEI discounts, rebates, and financing that make your project more affordable. And we are in continuous communication with Network of Excellence contractors on program updates. You can find a Network of Excellence contractor at www.princeedwardisland.ca/network.
Whether you are choosing a Network of Exellence contractor or not, we recommend that you narrow the selections to a list of less than five contractors to start.
Step 2: Prepare for your conversation
Narrow down your potential contractors to five or less.
Before you start talking to contractors, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your goal or the problem you need fixed. Present as much information consistently to each contractor you interview. It is helpful to have a home energy audit completed so that your contractor and you can understand the source of a problem (for example, what is causing drafts in my home?).
Prepare answers to common questions your contractor may have, like the age or size of your building, current heating fuel and heating system, utility information, and any previous efficiency projects you are aware of. Your contractor may ask you questions you didn’t think of before. As they arise, make notes for future reference as you compare contractor scopes of work.
Step 3: Do phone interviews
Call the contractors on your list and talk to them about your project. A phone interview can tell you more about what it might be like to work with a specific contractor.
To help narrow your list to a few top choices, ask questions such as the following:
- How many projects have you completed? How many do you do per year?
- What are some of the results of your projects?
- Do you use subcontractors? If so, are they trained in energy efficiency?
- When could my project fit into your schedule?
- Do you have experience with efficiencyPEI and securing rebates for customers?
- Do you have insurance that covers the type of work you are performing?
- Can you provide a certificate of insurance listing me on it? (When you hire from the NOE these questions are already answered, as all NOEs must be insured)
Step 4: Check references for your top choices
Once you’ve narrowed your list to a couple of contractors, check their references. This will give you the confidence to make a final decision. Here are a few questions we recommend asking the contractors’ previous customers:
- Were you satisfied with the contractor’s work?
- Are you as happy with the results today as you were when the project was completed?
- Were there cost or schedule overages? If so, why—and how did the contractor handle the situation?
You can also check in with consumer protection sites like the Better Business Bureau. You may be able to find out whether a contractor has a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.
Step 5: Read the fine print
If your contractor is offering you financing options or extended service packages, make sure you know what that means. Scrutinize the terms of the loan, including the length of time you’ll be paying, the interest rates and other obligations.
The Government of Prince Edward Island offers competitive financing options through Finance PEI for some efficiencyPEI programs so that may be an option you want to explore before signing up for financing with a private company.
Heat pumps last for about 10 to 15 years and usually only require simple routine filter cleanings as directed in the owner’s manual which does not require special tools or skills. Be wary of contractors selling packages that have you paying for your heat pump long after its life expectancy, or selling expensive maintenance packages that you may not need.