Tough economic times giving rise to energy savings scams

(Editor’s note: The following is the eighth of an eight-part series designed to reduce energy costs in the home.)

Some people are probably most surprised by this last tip. In prior years there wasn’t much need for a tip like this on an energy savings report.

However, with all this talk on global warming, energy scams are great ways for some people to trick the general public and cash in. In the name of energy savings, you can get ripped off in an ever-growing number of ways.

Be on alert when dealing with door-to-door salespeople, unsolicited letters or phone callers that promise to save energy and big bucks on your bills. You could sign up, only to find that your monthly bill is even higher due to hidden charges such as switching, service, late and cancellation fees.

Many companies are now offering energy audits, yet have very little building science knowledge or expertise. Be careful and get references from friends or family members, and ask for third-party references.

A proper energy audit should take between two and four hours in your home and should most definitely include a blower door test with infrared camera scanning. As with any industry, you must be diligent and do your homework.

Always look for reputable, well-known companies who have many years of experience working in your community. If you can’t find a trustworthy company, ask a friend, family member or co-worker to recommend a business who gave them great service.

If you still can’t find someone, ask your local utility company or Better Business Bureau for a list of licensed professionals. Always remember, don’t automatically go with the cheapest price when buying products for your home.

Keep in mind that you are not only buying the product that is being offered, but you are also buying the service of that company. Will they be there for you when you need them the most? Like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for!

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan and president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.