#2 Taking care of business - Be sure that the energy auditor/inspector of choice has the minimum insurance, bonds, licenses and credentials. The minimum requirements for participating in most local programs are:
- BPI-Certified Building Analyst Professional.
- General liability and professional errors & omissions insurance.
- Registrar Of Contractors License (ROC#) along with required bonding and insurance coverage.
- BPI-Certified Building Envelope Professional
- RESNET Certified HERS Rater
- BPI Certified AC/Heat Professional
- LEED Certified
- Members of national and local organizations like - USGBC, Energy Star and similar.
- BBB Members
#3 Proper approach - Make sure the company you are considering takes a whole house approach. They should perform a comprehensive energy audit and also have the resources and capability to perform a full spectrum of appropriate efficiency retrofits. The energy auditor/inspector may cover all aspects from audit/inspection to retrofit, or work closely with certified and authorized partners to handle everything.
We emphasize this point because there are product specific contractors in existence who may use the efficiency audit and audit program platforms to sell their specific products and services regardless of a real or appropriate need.
- If the auditors are primarily a insulation company they may have a strong incentive to sell you insulation, whether insulation is needed or not.
- The point above could also apply if the auditors are primarily an A/C company or a door and window company...or other product specific companies. You get the idea.
The bottom line is if you call a company that doesn't specialize and perform a whole house approach to energy auditing and repairs then you may likely be calling out a sales person for a specific product. Ask about the whole house approach to energy efficiency when you call for an energy audit/inspection.
#4 The right tools for the job - The energy auditor should have the right tools for the job. The big question is, "Do they include infrared photos and scanning in the program rate?" If they are charging extra that's a big "NO HIRE" from where we stand. Infrared should be included. Chances are, if they include infrared, they most like have the other tools necessary. However, here is a list of other "must have" equipment items:
- Blower door kit and manometer
- CO Detection equipment
- Moisture detection equipment
- Infrared Camera.
#5 No shortcuts - There are certain tasks that are required to be completed for proper energy audit performance and certification. Here they are:
- Landscape grade
- Moisture or potential moisture issues
- Gas leak detection when applicable
- Wear & Tear
- Window & door condition
- Attic inspection for insulation, HVAC, moisture issues, Ventilation and more
- Blower Door Test - Depressurizing house to identify leakage areas.
- Duct leakage test - Either subtraction method or pressure pan method
- Room pressurization testing
- CO and gas safety testing on all gas appliances
- Doors windows
- Hot water heater
#7 Ask the hard questions - Look, it's your house and your money, you are hiring a professional to be a professional. Let them do what they do. That is why you asked them out. But before hiring, here are some questions you should be able to get solid answers to.
- Who is coming out? Get the name and qualifications of everyone who will be in your home.
- How many energy audits/inspections have you performed? Many auditors are independent, self employed professionals trying to make a living, so when you call you often talk to the same person that's going to do the audit/inspection. This fact does not speak into experience or qualifications, so don't forget to ask about those too.
- Ask for references.
- Ask for proof of insurance and proof of credentials.
- Ask for a sample energy audit/inspection report.
#8 Slow down we just met - Signing documents... You may be required to sign a utility company rebate form and/or a general agreement prior to the inspection. However, some companies may try to get you to sign a contract that states youmust use their company after the audit if you decide to get any repairs done. Be sure that you are signing for audit only and that you are free to use who you want for the repairs - This enables you to get competitive bids, negotiate and make intelligent and qualified decisions.
#9 You paid for it, it's yours - Be sure you own the final report, data and images. The final report is part of what you are paying for. If you decide not to use the auditor's services for the retrofit, then you can supply a copy of reports, data and images to another contractor and skip getting/paying for a second inspection.