For many, finding the right contractor is the biggest hurdle to improving their home. Below is a list of different types of contractors you may need to hire. Under each type is a brief description of the service they provide and questions or suggestions for working with them. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission offers general tips for hiring a contractor that you should always follow.
A Home Energy Rater is a specialized contractor who performs a standardized evaluation of the energy efficiency of your home. The evaluation includes:
An Energy Auditor performs an evaluation of the energy efficiency of your home that may or may not be as comprehensive as a home energy rating.
To find a home energy rater visit the Residential Energy Services Network
Energy audits are often provided by utilities for free or at a discounted rate. Contact your electric or gas utility and ask if they offer an energy audit.
Find out if Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is available in your area. A qualified contractor inspects your home and recommends customized and cost-effective energy and comfort improvements.
A Heating and Cooling Contractor is a specialized contractor who installs and services heating, cooling and ventilation equipment. They sell, service and install ducts, programmable thermostats, furnaces, boilers, central air conditioners, and heat pumps. Some contractors provide specialized services like air balancing, duct sealing and energy or comfort audits.
An Air Sealing Contractor is a specialized contractor that seals air leaks in the building's envelope (a key part of Home Sealing). They commonly use spray foam and other materials to seal bypasses, gaps, and cracks in attics, basement, walls and floors.
Air Sealing Contractors are not commonly listed in the yellow pages under “air sealing”. To find an air sealing contractor contact a Home Energy Rater in your area and ask if they perform air sealing services or can refer you to someone who does. To find a home energy rater visit the Residential Energy Services Network
Air Sealing is a common improvement offered through the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program. State weatherization contacts may be able to refer you to an air sealing contractor in your area.
An Insulation Contractor is a specialized contractor who installs thermal insulation. Insulation contractors usually specialize in one type of insulation (e.g. fiberglass, cellulose, spray foam), but some will offer to install more than one type.
Insulation contractors can be found by looking in the yellow pages.
Ask the contractor what “R-value” of insulation they will install. “R” means resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation power. When insulation is installed, your contractor should provide you with a written statement of the R-value as required in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) insulation regulations. For more information see Home Insulation Basics from the FTC .
To find out the right R-value for your home, see the Department of Energy's insulation fact sheet .