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Washington Post: Hiring a contractor for home electrification projects? Ask these questions!

The Washington Post provided a helpful checklist of key questions to ask for consumers wanting to electrify their homes.

“Home upgrades are rarely easy, but home electrification projects present a novel challenge,” writes Climate Advice Columnist Michael J. Coren. “The technology inside modern appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters, induction stoves and EV chargers advances quickly. Devices may talk to the electrical grid and each other. Not everyone is prepared to treat the home as a digital, interconnected system, especially for homes that were designed for the fossil-fuel era.”

But energy efficiency and electrification are key, if we want to effectively fight climate change and reach net zero by 2050, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Post asked more than a dozen experts and contractors for tips on how to pick solid electrification contractors for projects like installing an induction stove, a heat pump or solar panels. Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What’s the (energy efficiency) state of your home? Before you begin any project, make your home as energy efficient as possible. Consider an energy audit (and remember, you can get a tax credit) or at least a DIY audit.
  2. What do you want to electrify? Don’t wait for an appliance to break, start creating your electrification plan now. Doing projects in the right order can avoid expensive hassles, such as having to bring an electrician back for multiple projects. Check out Rewiring America’s electrification planner and RMI’s green upgrade calculator.
  3. Do you need a second opinion? Do your own research, but consider seeking the insight of an engineering professional (a mechanical or electrical engineer) to make the best choices on electrification technologies. This guidance comes with a cost, of course, but the price tag can be worth it if it leads to equipment and efficiency savings.
  4. Will the contractor give you options? Some contractors may only push a system they know, and that can be dead wrong. For example, a contractor may tell you that heat pumps don’t work in cold climates. “That’s a myth derived from the limitations of models from the 1970s,” The Post reports. Modern heat pumps work down to minus-25 degrees, Energy Star says. The right contractor won’t hem and haw; the right contractor will find electrification solutions for you, no matter where you live.  The Post offers this guide about asking the right HVAC questions
  5. How can you tell if your contractor is qualified? Look for lists of contractors verified by third parties, such as state and local governments, as well as appliance manufacturers. Other options include national lists (such as EPA-recognized contractor directories), testing organizations (such as North American Technician Excellence and industry trade associations (such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, or ACCA).

To read the full checklist, see The Washington Post article here. Also, read these additional CUB resources: