This blog was originally published on March 22, 2016. It has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the no-cost home energy audit offered by Mass Save. Whether you’ve heard ads on the radio or seen them on TV, visited contractors’ websites, or received letters in the mail offering to inspect your home, one thing is clear; there is no shortage of contractors looking to help you with your home’s energy use! But before you hire a Mass Save contractor, there are a few things you need to know.
Mass Save is a Brand, Not a Contractor
When it comes time for your audit, you may expect a person from Mass Save to come to your home, but you might be surprised to find that that’s not the case. Mass Save is not one company, it’s an initiative that was put together by gas and electric companies in the state to encourage residents to become more energy efficient. These companies include Berkshire Gas Company, Blackstone Gas Company, Cape Light Compact, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Eversource, Liberty Utilities, National Grid, and Unitil.
This means that many contractors and vendors participate in the program, and you can choose which one performs your audit. If you don’t want to make that choice, you do have the option to have Mass Save put you in touch with a qualified contractor. However, if you know who you’d like to do the audit, you can contact that provider directly. All qualified Mass Save contractors are certified as “Building Analysts” by the Building Performance Institute (BPI). They’ve undergone training and testing to ensure they possess the necessary skills to measure home energy performance.
Whether you choose a contractor yourself or go through Mass Save is a matter of personal preference, but if you do nothing else, do your research on any vendor you are considering. This piece of advice goes for any services you have done for your home, including scheduling your no-cost Mass Save home energy assessment.
How to Hire a Mass Save Contractor
If you choose to select your contractor on your own, first do some digging to find the contractors that are available in your area. Once you’ve come up with your short list, be sure to ask each one the following questions. It’s best to talk to the contractor directly, but if you can’t ask them, do some online research.
- Partner status. Are they a Mass Save partner? Mass Save home energy audits can only be performed by Mass Save partners. They must be Mass Save trained and certified in order to provide services to you.
- Service ability. Make sure that the contractors you are looking at are willing and able to serve your geographic location as well as the type of energy you use. You can find a contractor near you on Mass Save’s website.
- What’s included? While the assessment is sponsored by Mass Save, each vendor may perform it differently. Ask what’s included in an energy assessment: how long will it take, what will they check for, and what services will they provide? Based on the results of your audit, the vendor may recommend follow-up visits to complete additional services.
- Contractor involvement. Will the contractor manage the process from start to finish? The contractor who performs your Mass Save no-cost energy audit may recommend additional energy-efficiency work—are they capable of doing this work for you, or will you have to hire another contractor after the assessment?
- Additional services. If they provide start-to-finish services, what other energy efficiency services can they do for you? Can they install insulation, solar energy systems, windows, or weatherization? It’s important to note that these are not included in the no-cost assessment; if you opt into having these services done on your home you will negotiate terms directly with the vendor.
- Rebates, incentives, and paying for upgrades. Your energy assessment comes at no cost, but any additional work you have done is not automatically covered. However, Mass Save rebates and incentives are available to help cover these costs. Talk with your contractor to find out if they understand the rebates that are available and if they can help you apply for the ones you qualify for.
- Experience and quality. What are past customers saying about their quality of work? Look up their reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Facebook, Google, and other websites. Do you know anyone who has worked with the contractor who can give you an idea of their experience? You can even ask the contractor if they have portfolios showing their past work. You’re looking to hire someone to work in your home; be sure these are people you can trust.
- Accreditation. Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if the contractor is accredited. Have any customers filed complaints against them? If so, what were they about? Were those complaints resolved satisfactorily and in a timely fashion?
- Who does the work? Does the contractor subcontract their work? Is there an in-house team or do they hire out other parties? The advantage of working with an in-house team is that a select group of people will manage your home’s account. With a provider who relies on outsourcing, the disadvantage is that you may have to keep track of multiple parties performing multiple functions on your home efficiency project. In the end, you may still save energy—but not time.
Factors to Consider Before Hiring
Keep in mind that not all vendors are created equal. As with any project, there is a wide range of contractors you can hire, and they do not all perform services with the same level of care. Beware of these warning signs:
- Rush jobs. Some vendors may promise quick results, but they may rush and provide a lower quality audit. A high-quality vendor may not be able to come to your home within 24-48 hours, but they will spend 1.5-2 hours doing a thorough walkthrough of your home to identify all the ways you can start saving energy. They will also sit down with you afterwards and discuss their findings and the report.
- Inexperience. This will depend on what services you want to have done—a contractor who is qualified to perform a home energy assessment might not be capable of doing additional work if you choose to have it done. Make sure that your contractor is qualified to do the work they say they can do. If they’re not, you may have to choose someone else to do these additional projects.
- Pressuring you for a decision. You’ll likely want to interview several contractors before you choose one. If a contractor feels “pushy” and wants you to decide right away, they might not be the right vendor for you.
Trust your gut! Your home is likely your biggest financial investment, and it’s important to hire a Mass Save contractor you can trust.
Research is your most powerful tool in hiring the right Mass Save contractor to get you on your way to energy savings through Mass Save. Energy Monster is a BPI-certified Mass Save partner who will spend the time to perform your energy audit right, make energy-saving recommendations, and help you apply for rebates to cover the cost.
Saving money with Mass Save doesn’t have to be difficult. Schedule your no-cost home energy assessment with Energy Monster to start saving energy and money today.Return to Blog