What to know before agreeing to a free home energy audit... why it could be a scam

Don't Waste Your Money

(WXYZ) - Debbie Katt is like many homeowners interested in cutting back on electric bills and making her home more energy efficient. So when someone appeared at her door offering a free home energy audit, she agreed.

"He presented himself as if he were an official of some sort," Debbie explains.

But after a quick check of the attic, windows and doors, the so-called "auditor" turned on the hard sell and told the Katts they needed to buy a four thousand dollar solar blanket for the attic. That's when they realized the "auditor" was really a salesperson.

"I was mad he misguided us and I was mad he took all our time like that."

Other victims

Debbie is just one victim of what the Consumer Federation of America calls an an emerging energy audit scam.

"The scammers send consumers post cards or make phone calls offering them free energy audits that will save them hundreds of dollars a month on their utility bills," explains Susan Grant from the Consumer Federation of America.

Grant says the auditors often imply they're with a government agency or utility company but the real intent is to get into your house and sell you something that you may not need, and that may not even save you any money. And shoddy, substandard work can also be the result. These pictures were taken inside a home where investigators say the owner fell for a free energy audit scam, and paid a company to put in insulation.
Turns out the contractor was unlicensed and never returned to finish the job.

"We've seen cases where work has not been completed fully or where people were not really benefiting from any of the savings they were told," says Jason Ohman a Consumer Protection Investigator.

Phony solicitations from free home energy audits are among the fastest growing "do not call list" complaints around the country. Debbie said no to the sales pitch she got, but warns, the person with the pitch can be persistent.

"The formula is these people get in your house and once they're in your house, it's hard to get them out of the house.

Action News contacted DTE and Consumers Energy and both offer energy audits, either free or low-cost. But they won't come knocking on your door or calling to offer one. You need to reach out to them. You can learn more about these money-saving audits by visiting their websites.

Consumers Energy

DTE

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