Have you heard of EnergySmart?
EnergySmart helps Boulder County businesses and residences become more comfortable and energy efficient. I had heard of EnergySmart, after all, I’m a Realtor and I travel in real estate related circles. But honestly, I was not really in the know! Then my life changed.
Now I’m going to share my EnergySmart success story (and so much more) with you. Trust me, you may not even know what you don’t know!
‘Twas the season. Leaves were changing (and falling), it was getting cooler and the daylight hours were diminishing. About that time, one is normally thinking it’s time to close up the house and turn on the furnace. I know I was. I had also convinced myself that there would be no commitment to new projects on my house in 2013. It has been a busy and challenging year. Not only has real estate been hot, hot, hot (translation: I’m exhausted) but I have worked hard on 285 Martin Drive Boulder Colorado, inside and out.
Then, just as soon as I closed the windows, the increased humidity from weeks of unusually wet weather and a crawl space still drying, became apparent.
My single pane, steel framed gifts from 1955 were failing under the challenge of excessive condensation. As the temperature dropped water ran down each pane and began pooling on window sills and dripping onto the hardwood floor. Lots of water! I needed to be more EnergySmart to avoid “cold on the outside + warm and humid on the inside = condensation on the old windows“.
To be honest, new windows, while on the to-do list for many years, were not in 2013’s budget… Financial or organizational. But as you can see, condensation is just one of the reasons these windows are no longer serving the house. They lose heat (or gain it in the summer), have peeling paint and have hardware that is outdated and difficult to use. I mulled it over, throwing my dilemma out to the universe. Somewhere on the continuum of solutions – temporary to permanent – I knew there was an answer just waiting to be found and my house deserved an answer.
Then I got on with my day. I had errands to run.
The line at Elevations Credit Union was four deep. I waited patiently, taking in the weather forecast, rate announcements and other offerings. Wait a minute… What was this? Staring back at me was a brochure about EnergySmart Loans. A low interest rate loan for the purpose of making ones home more energy efficient. If you and your home qualified for an EnergySmart improvement and financially qualified for the loan, you might use the money for such improvements as appliances, insulation or new windows!
I grabbed the EnergySmart brochure and when I got to the counter, asked the staff member about it. He confirmed that Elevations still “had money available for this program” and told me the first step was contacting EnergySmart Boulder.
Everything moved so fast after that! From step one this was a pleasant, easy, exciting process. Folks involved were incredibly helpful, very knowledgeable and down right nice to work with.
1. I called EnergySmart on Tuesday afternoon. They took some basic information about my house and set a time that worked for me, for my appointed Energy Adviser and I to chat by phone. At this stage I guess some homes need energy audits and some don’t. The rep sent over the paperwork needed to register/apply with Energy Smart via email. Like me, they use Docusign and within minutes I had it electronically signed and sent back. Done!
My 1955 brick ranch had been energy audited about 6 years ago. I had already completed several of the improvements. Changing out light bulbs, upgrading to efficient appliances and adding insulation.
The folks at EnergySmart concluded that I didn’t need an audit right now and I waited patiently for my Thursday at 9am call.
2. Jennifer Harper called at precisely 9am on Thursday. After a 20 minute call, she confirmed that my windows were a slam-dunk qualifier. She told me that new windows had to be installed by a contractor who was licensed and insured in Boulder County and while I was perfectly fine to find someone of my choice, she could also send me a list of contractors recommended by EnergySmart too.
So, part of this process is getting an overdue project underway, but I’ll admit right here and right now, there is big part of me who sees value in using EnergySmart to its full potential in order to blog it, recommend it and refer it to clients and friends. To go boldly were some have gone before me and others have not.
I took Jennifer up on her offer for a list of contractors. When she said “if you’re too busy to call them, I can help with that” I took her up on that too. All she needed from me was a short list of those whom I would like called.
By the end of the call we had established that my next step would be to call Elevations and apply for the loan (you still have to qualify for it, financially). And of course, to check my inbox for the list of contractors from Jen.
3. That afternoon, I spoke with Kevin, a loan consultant at Elevations Credit Union, and 15 minutes into the call he had all the information he needed to get my file off to underwriting. A nice guy who laughed out loud after he said he could hear me typing during my call and I replied “I’m a Realtor and I’m blogging you, for the benefit of my clients.”
I also sent Jen a list of about six potential contractors that she could call for me. The expectation was that with some information about me and my job requirements, each contractor would call me. I dug out the paid invoice for the one window that had already been replaced, during the great kitchen remodel of 2010. This gave Jen accurate data about the type of windows I needed, to match the existing “new” window. I felt very proud of my organizational skills…. Even though Jen was doing most of the work!
So I dropped a thank you card in the mail to her while I was at it. 🙂
Two days later, a Saturday, I was expecting my first of several onsite visits from window installers. I expected the consultations/quotes to occur over the next week or so.
Will my wee brick ranch be sporting new windows before winter is truly upon us? Maybe!
Do you have energy upgrades just waiting for the right financing?
Would you prefer some hand-holding throughout the process (like me)?
Without a gentle push in the right direction, might you never get of the fence?
I hear you. Stick with me and we’ll learn together! Simply read on.
A week later I was patiently awaiting that first contractor appointment.
1. Mark Hayden of Colorado Window Source was the first contractor to call and set an appointment to meet me at 285 Martin Drive. He arrived on time, took off his shoes, gave valuable advice and was a nice guy to spend time with. I appreciate that he drove up from Littleton for my consultation… on a Saturday afternoon. However, he couldn’t get the windows that I wanted (to match the one already installed in the kitchen) so he is not going to be my contractor. 🙁
2. Tuesday morning, October 15th I met with Kris Sparks from GB3 Energy Solutions. Jana at GB3 had been super easy to communicate with. She kept me informed as to who would be coming and when – using both phone and email to expedite the messages. Kris appeared to be quite busy and I was glad he fitted me in. He was timely and courteous. His bid/estimate came in about a week later but he did email to say it was going to take a day or two longer than first anticipated. The estimated cost was about the high-middle of the road, in the upper $11,000 range.
I squeezed in an early afternoon closing at Guardian Title and raced home to meet the next contractor!
3. Tuesday afternoon was my appointment with Greg Fox at Efficiency Matters. This guy does some traveling and that day saw him between Denver and Fort Collins…. So it was not a huge surprise when he got caught in Denver traffic and ran about 30 minutes late. Maybe it was just the day, maybe it’s a personality thing, but I noticed that I have more attention to detail than he does and I wondered if my mild anxiety over this was going to be an issue. His 2-line bid came in within a week and he could get the windows I liked for a good price… He also had a great price for installation. With his bid in at under $10,000, he left me weighing the nagging attention to detail thing against the lower price in order to decide if he will be my guy. He has good competition, for sure.
Wednesday, October 17th…. The busiest day yet for window appointments. I was also trying to get some work done prior to leaving for vacation on Friday, had plans to entertain clients both tonight and Thursday night, still had to pack, plan the flight, clean the house… Breathe!
4. Mike Sipe with Mountain View had a 9am appointment. He was 30 minutes late, but I was able to overlook it. I admit to having trouble concentrating when he kept leaving the front door open though. It was cold outside with frost on the ground…. and getting cold inside now too. I also would have preferred if he had asked if leaving his shoes on was OK. The deal killer was definitely the fact that he couldn’t get Marvin Integrity windows and was trying to push Milgard instead. I have had to rule him out as my windows guy.
5. At 1:30pm precisely, Tara Gonzales from Solar Glass arrived. Possibly the most organized of the six, she knew her product well and was super friendly. It’s really quite amazing how a little personal story can go a long way and I liked her instantly. Unlike several other contractors, she never at any time, felt the need to put down the competition. I admire that. Tara was the only one to take measurements “brick to brick” opening, on the exterior of the house and I was happy to assist. Her bid was in the middle somewhere over $11,000 and while I haven’t ruled her out, because money isn’t everything, I would be silly to overlook the difference in price between Solar Glass and Efficiency Matters, all else being equal.
6. And last but not least… Tony Guida from Mile High Window, Solar and Landscape arrived. He was an hour late but had called to let me know this earlier. I give him credit for staying to finish at a job site before abandoning the client he already has. He was quick and very informative… Actually the only one to mention lead paint testing and precautions, and the only one to touch on the CAZ testing that Energy Smart requires. His bid/estimate was detailed and professional, but way higher than anyone else, at over $13,000. Unfortunately, this was a deal killer for me. Why pay lots more than you have to, right?
As the estimates flew into my inbox, I dutifully forwarded them to Jen Harper at Energy Smart. Yesterday at 3pm we had a phone conversation to address the prices, differences, questions etc. The next step was to get more details from Efficiency Matters. I need to know that the price I’m being quoted includes all the same stuff as what is included with Solar Glass and GB3… Apples to apples and all that. 🙂 Jen at EnergySmart, is of course, is on top of it! I’m expecting to hear from her as soon as she acquires the details from the contractors. After that, it’s decision time and I can’t wait.
All the contractors have the same-ish timeline. I sign a contract with them for the work, they send a professional out for more accurate window measurements and place the window orders. In 3-5 weeks when the windows are ready for pick up, the contractor will get the work going ASAP at my house. Jobs are done on a first come, first served basis after placing the work order and I’m hoping there are not a ton of other crazy home-owners like me out there… Pulling out windows in November/December!
I expected to order windows next week…
Aarrrrgghhhh… This is really happening!