Be Cautious of Huge Energy Savings Claims, Says Better Business Bureau

July 02, 2014

Consumers are bombarded with claims from energy suppliers that promise huge savings in their energy costs. The Better Business Bureau says consumers need to research vague claims that state they will “save up to,” “save over” or advertise saving “more than” or “at least” because these claims may be nothing more than advertising gimmicks.

“Regardless of the time of year, cooling or heating your home has a major impact on household budgets” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers should not simply accept claims of guaranteed savings as fact. They need do some research.”

The Code of Advertising, the BBB’s long-held advertising standards for all businesses, states that claims regarding energy savings should be based on recent and competent scientific, engineering or other objective data. Energy suppliers should have proof that their savings claims are true before they advertise them.

The BBB recommends the following when evaluating energy savings claims:

  • Look for certification. See if the business is certified or accredited with groups or environmental agencies that specialize in energy savings. Always check with the organization that certified or accredited the business to verify it is in good standing. Find out what the business must do to earn the certification or accreditation.
  • Be wary of guaranteed savings. Be extremely cautious if a business guarantees to cut your bills or energy usage by a specific amount. Ask to see the guarantee in writing and look it over carefully to determine any restrictions, requirements or limitations, and how the guarantee would be honored.
  • Look for early termination clauses. Review any contract or agreement to determine if there are any penalties for early cancellations.
  • Use good judgment. As always, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Check with BBB. Search to find thousands of local businesses that are committed to advertising with integrity and ensuring their consumers are satisfied.

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The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization.  It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices.  The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service.  Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.