Informed Consumer

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Working with contractors

Making an energy efficiency investment in your home is an important decision that should be made with careful thought and consideration. IID offers incentives on the purchase and installation of various energy-efficiency measures through the Energy Rewards Program and rebates for solar energy systems through the PV/Solar Solutions Program. Be an informed consumer by reading the program guidelines and equipment requirements prior to making your purchase. Information about these programs is available at:

The agencies below also provide valuable resources when working with contractors:

Tips to help you get started

Consumer Alert for Homeowners

  1. Interview a minimum of three potential contractors and obtain written bids from each.                
  2. Verify that the contractor's license is current and active with the California State Contractors License Board (CSLB). It is also important to make sure they hold the proper type of license required to get the job done.
  3. Ensure all quotes for the project are in writing. Always retain a copy of all documents signed.
              Read the fine print. Make sure the written contract includes all oral commitments and sales expectations made by the salesperson. Only sign after fully reviewing and             understanding the terms and
    making sure the costs are within
    reason. 

              You can cancel the deal. The Federal Trade Commission's
    Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel if you sign a contract in your home or anywhere that is not the seller's permanent place of business - even if the system has already
    been installed. You don't            have to give a reason for canceling. 
             Take your time. Don't feel rushed into signing a contract before all of your questions have been answered.
  4. Never provide more than 10 percent or $1,000 (whichever is less) of the system cost for an up-front deposit.
  5. Do not let payments get ahead of work.  
  6. Do not hesitate to ask the contractor questions about their business, the system or anything you may not understand.
  7. Request references from previous customers to ensure they are satisfied and their product is performing properly.

 

The Center for Sustainable Energy has issued the following solar Caution Signconsumer alert: 

There have been numerous reports of telemarketing and solar scams throughout California attempting to generate sales through unscrupulous methods.

We encourage you to act with caution and follow these recommendations if you encounter any of the following:

  • High pressure sales tactics:
    • Some companies are using limited-time offers or other tactics to force a quick decision.

      Recommendation: Take your time researching your choices for buying solar. There are many contractor choices with competitive rates. Get at least three quotes. Consult the Find an Active Solar Contractor webpage.
  • Misleading promises of rebates:
    • Some solar salespeople may threaten you with the prospect of missing out on rebates or tax credits if you don't sign up immediately. Rebates are limited and funding is not guaranteed.

      Recommendation: Look for the best value without rebates. Once you've found the project with the best value look into IID's PV/Solar Solutions Rebate Program and the Federal Investment Tax Credit.    
  • Posing as a government or utility representative:
    • Some telemarketers are using company names that are similar to government agencies in order to schedule a "free energy audit".
    • Other accounts have been documented of persons arriving at your home and falsely posing as a Utility Representative.

      Recommendation: Do your research on any company that is attempting to schedule an appointment with you through cold calling or door-to-door sales. Ask for credentials, including employment identification; Utility badge and supervisor information; Home Improvement Salesperson (HIS) registration number; and state contractor license number. 
  • If you have encountered any of these tactics and would like to make a complaint, see the following resources:

    Better Business Bureau

    Contractors State License Board

    Register with the "Do Not Call list (DNC)" or file a complaint for DNC violations with the Federal Communications Commission

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