A few weeks ago I had a guy from “enviro saver” visit my home to replace incandescent globes with CFLs. The original plan was to deliver a water-saver shower head as well but he told me that because I have solar hot water there are no renewable energy certificates in installing a shower head so I couldn’t get one.
The brochure they gave me at my local shopping center when I signed up for this claimed that they are “acting on a genuine concern about the
environmental impact of our Australian lifestyle”. But it seems that renewable energy certificates and up-selling of Photo-Voltaic systems is the real aim. I’ve been planning to get a PV system installed so I’ll be interested to see what they offer me.
The CFLs that they gave me appeared to be very cheap ones. They take about 500ms to start while the better ones appear to take less than 100ms. It seems to be a reasonable business model to give people a few dollar’s worth of cheap CFL lights in exchange for a good sales opportunity and some renewable energy certificates.
This sort of thing has become popular enough that some thieves are copying the plan. According to the reports people will knock on your door offering free CFL lights, case your home while installing them (got to check every room for old incandescent lights), and then rob it the next week if it looks like there are good things in there.
The companies that offer a legitimate service of replacing lights apparently don’t send people knocking on doors. They have the customers sign up for the service in advance.
But the solution to such problems seems obvious. Firstly get the name of everyone who wants to enter your home. If you signed up for a service then make sure you know who you called. If someone appears on your doorstep then demand photo ID. Camera phones are good things, if someone refuses to adequately identify themself then take their picture, note the number of their car, and give the details to the police.
Keep a log of everything that seems relevant to home security, thieves may attack your home weeks after casing it, so you can’t rely on your memory. Also keep a log in a place where it’s not likely to be stolen, storing it on a computer that is in your home would be a bad idea.