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As interest in green energy programs grows, consumers are discovering that not every claim to energy efficiency is true.
Dishonest people are taking advantage of the movement’s popularity to deceive others for their personal gain. Ploys include products that promise to work miracles, fake contractors who run away with customers’ money, energy company impersonators and cybercrime.
Several bogus products on the market today claim to reduce power usage. One such product is sometimes described as a “power saver” or “power factor corrector” that plugs into an electrical outlet or is hard-wired into an electrical panel. The nefarious manufacturers of these products claim that electricity use is lower when something is plugged into it. These simply don’t work. Also beware of any device that requires tampering with an electric meter, which is dangerous and illegal.
Phony contractors might use a made-up license number to sell products and services such as solar panels and installation, or offer energy efficiency repairs. Be sure to look into the legitimacy of a company by contacting the state licensing board and checking the Better Business Bureau before signing any contracts or paying for any services.
Impostors posing as utility employees sometimes go door to door offering to do energy audits or make electricity repairs. They might try high-pressure tactics, make false promises or attempt to collect personal info. Be especially suspicious of pairs of workers: One might attempt to distract you while the other steals your valuables. Never let into your home anyone who claims to be with your electric cooperative without first checking with the co-op.
Phishing emails that appear to come from the U.S. Department of Energy might falsely promise a tax refund for green home improvements. Don’t open the email or any attachment, and don’t respond to any requests for information. The email could contain a computer virus or be an attempt to collect your personal information.
Remember, some of the best ways to save energy are simple behavioral changes—such as replacing incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs and using power strips—which don’t require purchasing anything new or installing expensive equipment.