It's Only (Your) Money - Planning An Energy Efficiency Upgrade Project

Real Estate Agent with CENTURY 21 Southern Idaho Realty

Recently, one of my clients was preparing to replace the single pane windows on his 45 year old home and found himself looking at a bid for $8000.  Sensing that this might be a bit high, he called me at home for some quick feedback.  After recovering from a fit of choking, I pointed out that I'd recently managed the "re-windowing" of a similar home for a bit less than half of that using pretty much the same product (I think my windows had argon gas and the $8000 windows used red kryptonite or something).

Inspired by this save, I'm providing a few hints for your consideration before tackling a major energy efficiency project (most of Man lighting cigar with moneywhich apply to major home renovations of any type)

  • Talk to a knowledgeable Real Estate Agent first.  Ask about costs but also if you'll be able to recover those costs in a reasonable time.  An experienced agent will either provide guidance or get you in touch with someone who can.

  • Seriously consider having an energy audit done by a qualified energy rater and I am most definitely NOT talking about the supplier or installer.  A professional energy rater will charge you $200-300 but may save you thousand by providing unbiased information about the most cost effective actions to take.

  • Depending on the complexity of the project, try to avoid "package deals".  If you need insulation and windows, call individual insulation contractors and window suppliers directly.  If the project is simple, you may not need the services (and associated costs) of an "energy contractor".

  • No surprise here but get at least two bids one of which should be from a big box supplier such as Home Depot or Sears.

  • Determine if the supplier has a local presence and, even more importantly, the installers.  Will you be able to get quick warranty work or have to wait two weeks for them to make it up the Interstate?  Make sure the supplier's warranty also covers installation so that they, and not you, are responsible for resolving installation issues.

  • Fraud abounds in the world of home improvement so check with the Better Business Bureau before signing.  Slick brochures and smiling salespeople do not a legitimate operation make.  Watch out for the ol' "bait and switch".  If the salesman scoffs at their advertised special ("why, I wouldn't put that stuff on my dog house") - show them the door.

  • Keep frills to a minimum.  The typical home ownership period in Mountain Home, Idaho is just over 3 years and (generally) the more you spend on the project, the less likely you'll recover its cost before you leave.

  • Avoid vendor financing programs - contact me for information about any energy efficiency loan programs that you may qualify for.  If you haven't purchased the home yet and will be using VA financing, the cost of most energy upgrades can be included in the home loan.  How would you prefer to pay for your project (note: the following figures are examples only)  - vendor provided financing at 14% over 5 years or VA financing at 6% over 30 years?  

Jan DeGiorgio  Certified EcoBroker®
Century 21 Southern Idaho Realty
Mountain Home, ID

Comments (1)

Cree Quaker
The Machree Group, LLC - Woodstock, NY
Ulster County Real Estate
Great blog..thank you for the information!
Mar 30, 2008 04:23 AM