Green-washing and Bad Advice About Energy Savings. The REAL Story!

Today, I saw a video online that was posted by one of the “big-box” retailer, home improvement stores. Without saying who it was, let me just say; who is the first company you think about in large home improvement stores?

I will start by sharing that I do not have anything against this store, in fact I purchase items for my own home and business from them on a somewhat regular basis. I do however fault them for misinforming homeowners with some of the “energy saving tips” they spoke about in this video.

For example, one of the tips they gave was adding attic insulation. Now that is a great tip and certainly a wise investment when it comes to saving energy. It can also have a very quick ROI and we often recommend this after we conduct a whole home energy audit.

Here’s where I had a problem with that in this video:

First of all they alluded to the fact that this was a “weekend project” that “a homeowner could tackle by himself or herself.” This sounds like something any laymen can do themselves and save some money rather than hiring a professional, right? Well the fact of the matter is; if not installed properly, it can have very little effect or worse…it can actually have a negative impact on your energy bill!

What I found most ironic was that it was actually being installed improperly in the video!

So this retailer made their money by selling the homeowner the materials. The homeowner spent two days crawling around in their cramped, dusty attic, and not only wasted their time and money with the new insulation, actually ruined the effective R-Value of the existing insulation when moving it around!

The video then went on to talking about replacing your homes existing windows with energy efficient “low-e” windows. Going so far as to say, “This can be one of the most cost effective ways to improve your homes energy use, and has a very quick pay back period.” To which this “certified expert” says “BOLOGNA”!

Now don’t get me wrong, in my opinion ALL new construction homes should be built with low-e windows, I repeat NEW homes. But to say that a homeowner should spend the $12 – $25 thousand dollars to replace their existing windows with more energy efficient windows is a “good investment” is just plain bad advice! Do the math and it’s not hard to see the mistake in that advice.

The real fact of the matter is when doing a cost savings analysis on most existing homes the payback period is usually never less than 22 years! I don’t know about you but I don’t consider two plus decades a “quick pay-back period”…it takes that long to get your kids to move out!

My point behind this post is to talk about a phenomenon that’s been coined “green-washing”. Everywhere you turn people and companies are talking about green this and energy savings that, and putting these terms on products and services that don’t deserve that moniker.

It doesn’t make sense to spend money on “saving money” if you can’t or don’t effectively test and verify that you will, or are actually saving money! What’s worse is with all the green “noise” and messages being thrown around, most consumers will likely choose to do nothing rather than invest in the products and services that really would’ve saved them something and helped the environment.

Although I could go on forever about this subject, I’ll spare you the pain and close with this:

Want to save energy at home? Have an energy audit performed by an expert with many verifiable years in the industry. Someone that will not only advise you on the products and services that they offer, but also the ones they don’t offer (example: my company, Magic Touch Mechanical, recommends variable speed pool pumps on a daily basis because they have an excellent ROI…we don’t sell or install pool pumps!)

Your recommendations should be listed in order of quickest ROI to longest ROI. If you have the luxury of springing for something like low-e windows and to you improving your homes curb appeal and comfort are a bigger consideration than ROI…go for it!

Lastly, after repairs are made, your auditor should come back and “test-out” to verify and confirm your savings! Because saving REAL green…is the REAL green!