As we are all looking for ways to stay financially solvent while maintaining our safety and security, the upcoming winter season could prove to be a challenge. Keeping utility costs down while staying warm in the cold months could cause you to fall prey to home heating scams and illegitimate scammers who are looking for your private information.
While you should be diligent about cutting costs, you can’t forget that scammers are lurking at every turn. But staying one step ahead and being consistently aware of fraudulent tactics could help you avoid making a costly mistake. As you look for ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and cut costs, here are some tips to help you decipher a legitimate offer from a home heating scam.
- Only work with trusted companies. Most of us know very little about heating our homes. Therefore, it’s crucial to rely on companies we know and trust to tell the truth about our options. Asking a friend or relative which company they use can be a good starting point. Check out the company’s Better Business Bureau profile online.
- Do your homework to weed out scammers. The internet could be your best ally.A legitimate company will have some sort of presence on the internet and/or a physical address. If not, it could be a red flag. Search for reviews on sites like Yelp. Pay attention to a company’s response to those reviews, as well.
- Don’t fall for cold-call scams or high-pressure door-to-door sales calls. A legitimate utility company will never call you out of the blue or show up on your doorstep offering a limited time offer. Pressure to act fast is an indicator of a home heating scam. They may be offering a “free” check-up or audit of your heating system, but once inside, they’ll find a slew of issues that need to be addressed. Asking for immediate payment via gift card or money transfer is another indicator of a home heating scam.
- Don’t get overwhelmed–ask questions. Your home heating system is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your home. So don’t be shy about asking questions about the company or the job itself. Show confidence and be direct and don’t let them intimidate you into signing a contract. If they brush off your questions or make you feel that you don’t understand, they are most likely scammers.
- Get everything in writing. Most legitimate contractors will be comfortable putting together a document that can be signed outlining the project. At a minimum, the document should include product costs, labor costs, warranties, and timeline or duration. This is vital if there are complications with the project, or if you’d like to get a second or third quote.
- Be skeptical of drastic savings. Abide by the adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Once you’ve chosen your utility contractor and home heating system, there are other ways to cut back on heating expenses that can help you stay warm economically. They include:
- Update your thermostat
- Use a humidifier to prevent dry air in the home
- Leave your oven door open after cooking or baking
- Reverse your ceiling fans
- Ask your electric company to run an energy audit
- Properly insulate your walls and windows
- Make your rooms airtight
Being diligent about maintaining your home’s heating system will not only help extend the life of the system but will also increase the efficiency of the unit thereby keeping you and your finances warm and toasty throughout the cold weather season. If your heating system does need attention, First Keystone Community Bank can help with cost-effective options like a Home Equity Line of Credit or Cashline to offset expenses. Call 570-752-3671 for more information.