This post began life as a reminder that open4energy has published a directory of energy scams to help warn consumers about the misleading claims being made by various energy products and services.
But as I thought about the loss to consumers and the harm being caused to the home energy efficiency industry I began to wonder at the whole issue of the internet and it's use to promote scam energy solutions.Over the next five articles we are going to take a close look at the complex issue of consumer energy scams.
It turns out that our directory of power factor correction, magnetic perpetual motion, DIY windmills and home built solar panels are the tip of a consumer energy iceberg. Most unfortunate considering the cries of global warming that fuel these scams.
Then there are the shenanigans our energy utilities are up to. I am not about them being as playful as the term shenanigans is meant to imply. There is nothing actually wrong with smart meters, unless you are emissions intolerant, but positioning them as an energy efficiency investment was a classic exploitation of the green marketing movement. Smart meters are a much needed replacement of our old meters. They cost less to read, offer opportunity to review billing and bring us into the 20th century. The problem is that someone, for the last 30 years, did not put aside the monies to pay for this inevitable replacement program.
There are the multi-level marketing (MLM) energy schemes, Ambit Energy and Stream Energy at the top of the list. For most the 'get rich' lure of MLM is a scam, but in fairness, for the few who are suited to direct selling, they are an opportunity for self employment.
We are not alone in the US either. There is the prepayment electricity scam exposed by Victoria Bischoff of citywire money in the UK.
Next week we will expose the financial winners of this plethora of energy scams. Readers, get ready for a surprise. You may not be surprised to find Google leading the internet beneficiaries, or that the energy utilities are not being 100% honest. But even I was surprised as I saw the depth to which this topic must speak out.
Articles three and four will take a look at us the consumers. I will avoid the trap of accusing us too harshly, for we are also the victims of these scams. But we are certainly not doing our best to protect ourselves. Information on most of these scams can be exposed in simple ways. For example - search the name of the product and add the word scam - to find a reasonable list of consumer opinion. There does seem to be an attitude of wishful thinking amongst us.
I asked my fellow blogger Chris, publisher of the blog MapAWatt to send me his thoughts on consumer energy saving attitudes. He writes "Our article on Magniwork has been the most popular post on Mapawatt ever. I think people want to believe in the impossible. Even though it may sound incredibly ridiculous, they want to believe it may still be true. I can't tell you how many comments I've received from people criticizing my warnings, saying that "I haven't built it so how would I know" (it's easy for them to say that since it is impossible to build), or that I'm just not thinking big enough, or that 'big oil' is trying to squash the plans. It's amazing how willing people are to believe in a blatant lie, but are so skeptical of the truth."
The final article in the series is the one I hope readers will study and ponder most deeply on. It will build on the fact that there are scam products, large financial incentives at stake, people who lack essential education and wishful thinking in play. We will dig into the topic I know as digital persuasion, and how it is being used (deliberately and by accident) to shape global energy policy. I have spent the last 25 years of my life exploring this topic, and at times with some despair. So it was with some comfort that I read of the persuasive technology lab at Stanford university today, the research they are doing with Facebook, and decided to add this final chapter on energy scams to our series.
The best time to learn about the energy use in your home and how to save 15% to 25% of your electricity bill - at NO cost to you - is BEFORE - you are duped out of your hard earned money. As we gather our thoughts into a format you can (and I hope will) read, may I sincerely ask that all readers take a moment to consider their role in bringing these energy scams to an end.
Follow this link to read our second post titled: Types of Consumer Energy Scams.
Get Smart about Energy™