One of Snohomish County PUD’s Trade Ally contractors works to replace a window for a customer. (Krysta Rasmussen)

One of Snohomish County PUD’s Trade Ally contractors works to replace a window for a customer. (Krysta Rasmussen)

Hire a home energy efficiency contractor without getting burned

Here are four things to remember when you hire out to install a heat pump or window replacement.

  • Saturday, February 15, 2020 6:34am
  • Life

Snohomish County PUD’s residential Trade Ally Network turns 40 this year.

The relationship between PUD energy efficiency staff and local contractors has proven to be a valuable one. Through the network, the PUD has helped assure that its customers installing energy efficient equipment like heat pumps, windows and insulation receive exemplary customer service from contractors.

“PUD Registered Trade Allies are licensed and insured independent businesses who receive training from the PUD on our programs and agree to meet PUD energy efficiency standards for installing heating and weatherization products in customers’ homes,” said Cori Mitchell, PUD Customer & Energy Services Program manager. “We take pride in knowing that they provide excellent service to our customers.”

For PUD customers who live in electrically heated homes and want to take advantage of the PUD’s heating and weatherization rebates, using a contractor from the utility’s Registered Trade Ally Network is mandatory. For everyone else, it can be just a useful tool. (See box for information on PUD Trade Allies.)

According to Mitchell, even if you use one of the PUD’s authorized contractors, there are some important things to keep in mind when hiring a contractor. Here are some tips to remember:

Do your homework

Whether you’re putting in new windows or overhauling your entire heating system, before requesting a bid for a job, conduct some research. What is your heating source? How old is your furnace? What type of windows are in your house currently?

It’s also important to know your goals, Mitchell advises. Are you making energy efficiency upgrades just to save energy, or are you more interested in increasing your resale value and/or comfort around the house? What kind of equipment you pick and questions you’ll want to ask the contractor will be impacted.

Don’t forget the bid process

There’s nothing wrong with adding a little competition to the bid process. Talk to more than one contractor and get bids from each. Also make sure to get those bids in writing, so that you can refer to them and easily compare each bid against the others.

But it’s important to not always just go with the lowest bid, Mitchell warns. “That goes back to your goals for the project,” she said. “Make sure that those goals line up with the contractor’s bid and what services they are promising.”

Treat it like a job interview

The contractor you hire will be working for you and may be in your home for multiple days, so make sure it’s someone you can work with and trust. During the bid process, ask a lot of questions and pay attention to the little things: Do they show up on time? How well do they communicate? How professional do they seem? How long have they been in business?

Make sure to ask for references, and then actually call and check them. Also ask friends who have done similar projects and get recommendations and tips.

Research contractors out there

Finally, Mitchell recommends you use reputable online resources to research contractors. The Labor & Industries website has a contactor look-up tool that can be accessed at secure.lni.wa.gov/verify to ensure that contractors are licensed and meet state requirements.

For more information, email PUD energy efficiency experts at ce@snopud.com. For a list of energy efficiency rebates the PUD offers, visit www.snopud.com and click on “Conservation.”

PUD’s Trade Ally Network

For a list of PUD Registered Trade Allies, visit the websites below:

• www.snopud.com/heatcontractors

• www.snopud.com/windowcontractors

• www.snopud.com/insulationcontractors

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