Warmer weather and sunny skies combined with higher electric rates are causing some people to consider green solutions to their economic problems. Solar energy is one option for long-term cost savings. However, a homeowner must do the homework to make sure solar energy power is a practical and money-saving alternative, not just an idealistic choice.
Solar energy scams have all the hallmarks of the typical contracting scam. Fraudulent contractors prey on those who are unfamiliar with their product. They may show up at your door, advertise in local papers or deliver fliers to your home. Like the typical contracting scam, solar paneling scams can range anywhere from issues with the installation and costs to the actual solar panels themselves.
“As with any kind of home improvement contractor, consumers need to be cautious of installers that promise too-good-to-be-true offers,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “It pays to look beyond the lowest bid when selecting a contractor.”
There are many state and federal rebates that offer a reduction in the initial costs of solar energy products. However, consumers who opt for a “greener” remodel this spring need to be wary of the less-than-reputable and unqualified contractors that breeze into town promising a variety of “green” services at cut-rate prices. Consumers need to find an installer that is trustworthy and knowledgeable on the benefits of solar energy.
The BBB recommends considering the following before investing in solar energy:
Determine if solar energy is right for you. Due to the high costs associated with the initial investment of solar power, it is important to conduct a self energy audit to determine if solar energy is right for you.
Consider all the costs associated with solar energy. Ask about all the costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep of the system. Determine if the benefits and savings outweigh the costs over the long run.
Stay informed about state and federal incentive programs. Depending on your location, state and federal programs may help with high installation costs. Be sure to understand the terms and conditions of the incentive programs and conduct your own research prior to signing a contract with an installer. For the latest information on state programs, visit http://www.dsireusa.org/
Be cautious of installers that promise no out of pocket costs prior to reviewing your specific situation. Be leery if an installer suggests obtaining credit for the full amount of the system even though they are promising very low or no costs due to rebates.
Make sure the roof of your home is equipped to sustain a solar panel system. Even though a properly installed solar system will not damage your roof, make sure your roof is in good condition before you begin the installation to avoid any future problems.
Understand how your solar energy works. You can take full advantage of the benefits in solar energy once you know how it works. For instance, panels installed facing no shade obstructions will receive maximum sun thus providing the greatest percent of energy.
For referrals on hiring the right contractor for your home improvement projects, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.