Does anyone else just see a lawsuit when they watch this video?

http://www.trustedhomeservices.com/eshield/video.asp

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Hi Wayne,

Where are you located?

I'm looking for someone in Reno/Tahoe area.

Eric Fulda

408-605-0890

I contacted Costco and was referred to a Northern CA contractor called K-Designs.com. They called back and explained their products had guaranteed energy savings of 22% on exterior text-coat and attic E-Shield would lower my winter heating bill 25%. They also have windows, decking much more. When I sold lighting to Costco, they vetted, tested products very thoroughly, so I'm surprised they are approving this deceptive and false advertising.   

Well, I think it's time we get the story straight from the horse's mouth.  I just signed up for a free in-home consult and estimate.  Of course, I have no intentions of divulging that I am a BPI Building Analyst - I want to get their whole pitch free of context.  I will keep you posted on what I find out. 

Now this should be interesting...hidden video camera please ;-)

Well, Marc H., the sales rep from K-Designers (the contractor who is working with Costco on this offer here in the San Francisco Bay area), just left from my free in-home estimate.  Sorry - no hidden video camera (just seemed too much like a bad tv journalism move).  Here's the breakdown:

  • My home is a 2009 Pulte built 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 3 story town home with a garage within 1/4 mile of the San Francisco Bay.  Stucco exterior with fiberglass insulated walls (installed during construction).  Two side walls are shared with neighbors.  Total sq. ft:  1,330.  Occupants:  4 (39, 38, 3 and 9 months).  Blower door CFM@50:  ~1,345 (last tested 10/23/12).  Heating:  2 zone, 70K BTU input (2 zone).  (And yes, I know the FAF is oversized.  It was here when I bought the home.  It will eventually be replaced with something much smaller.)  The only major issue with the home (as identified when I tested it with blower door and duct blaster) is significant duct leakage in/near son's room (3rd floor).  Otherwise, great house in very good condition.
  • Sales rep was in the house total 25 minutes.
  • WIthin in 2 minutes of getting in the door and without any testing, he recommended the exterior painting which will seal the home.  I explained my HOA would not allow it.  He dropped it and moved on.  Projected savings:  not stated.  Total cost:  not quoted.
  • He poked his head into the attic (which, by the way, he referred to as an "addict" multiple times) and told me I could get the underside of the roof lined with their reflective shield.  Project energy savings:  10-15%.  Total cost:  $2,513.
  • Note:  at this time, he hasn't asked me what my bills are.
  • From his 90 second visual inspection of the attic (which, keep in mind, he never actually got into) he was able to tell me my insulation was fine and I didn't need air sealing.  
  • Note:  he has not run any tests on the home yet.
  • He asked if there were rooms that were hot in the summer, cold in the winter.  I directed him to my son's room.  He asked me why I thought it was hot - I told him it does catch a lot of the setting sun.  His solution:  interior installed reflective film on the windows.  Projected energy savings:  2-3%.  Total cost:  $782.25.
  • Note:  the windows in my home are only 3 year old dual pane with low-e coating.  He didn't ask or test for low-e.
  • Note:  as referenced in the description of the home, the only problem with this room is the duct leakage.  
  • Note:  at this time, he did ask me about my bills.  I explained our summer bills are quite low (~$45-55 per month) and our winter bills peak in Jan. and Feb. (~$85-$100).  
  • He asked if I had a water heater blanket.  I said no and he suggested I get one on my own.  Projected savings:  not stated.  Total cost:  not quoted.
  • Next he asked about my garage door - a standard sheet metal garage door.  He suggested I get an insulated garage door.  Projected savings:  not stated.  Total cost:  approximately $3,000.00.
  • Note:  my garage is clearly unconditioned space (as evidenced by the self-closing fire door leading to the house and the massive infiltration around the garage door.  No mention of air barrier, thermal boundary or the lining of the two.  
  • I asked about air sealing of the home.  He asked if I had some windows or doors that needed weatherstripping.  I said our cat had torn up some of the weatherstripping on our front door.  While still on the second floor, he tells me I should get that sealed and I should do it on my own.  Note:  he never actually inspected the door.  Projected savings:  not stated.  Total cost:  not quoted 
  • Total projected energy savings:  18%.  Total projected costs:  $3,295.25.  
  • Note:  the only test performed or measurement taken in the entire visit was a laser tape measure reading of the length and width of the home.  And even that was not performed very accurately.

Nice enough guy and not a pushy salesman but clearly had no idea what he was doing.  To me, what he said was not nearly as frightening as what he never said:

  • No mention of blower door infiltration tests.
  • No mention of duct blasting.
  • No mention of CO or other health related topics.
  • No knowledge of a single incentive or rebate (and I even asked him).

Seriously, what is Costco doing with this company?

This is getting to be an epidemic. BJ's wholesale club is pushing this also. A few weeks ago I got a postcard offering a free dinner from a company from, I think, N Carolina.

The companies website referenced research by ORNL as part of their pitch. If I had been able to attend the dinner I was thinking about printing out the actual report, with the savings estimates highlighted, for the group to enjoy. Sadly I was out of town that day or I would have gone.

I'm thinking of trying to get a local TV station to do an "investigative" piece, but the way most news teams work they might discover that radiant foil is the best thing since sliced bread. Way better than that non-shiny insulation stuff.

Oh well, maybe...

What about reaching out to Efficiency First to approach BJ's, Costco, etc to speak with them about these type of offerings?  In reality BJ, Costco etc may have no clue regarding how bad these services actually are.  Taking the time to speak with them about home performance and the importance of adhering to industry best practices could have a positive impact and help them develop a more responsible energy efficiency offering. 

How did Costco identify this service?  Did they call it a walk through audit or anything along those lines?

Costco didn't identify it as anything.  K-Designers (the contractor) was careful to say they are not employees of Costco - only subs.  K-Designers referred to it as an "in home estimate."

I believe this is an epidemic. Every spring they come from Texas and give free dinners at the Old Mill Restaurant and make outrageous energy saving claims..............

While the representative for the company in the Costco program is most definitely inept at home energy analysis, is this something that is really surprising? Does the offering go beyond so many other "Trade" offerings whose energy saving claims are questionable at best? Does the representative have less knowledge then the majority of HVAC/Window/Radiant Barrier(when they only sell radiant barriers)/Attic Ventilation representatives? (I would put some checklist energy auditors in the same category). How many times have you walked into a house with a few inches of insulation and crappy, leaky duct system which just received a nice high efficiency heating or cooling unit?

Personally, the original video which shows radiant barrier installed on top of the attic floor insulation is the real tragedy - one which could harm the building and cause irreparable damage and lawsuits.

I think the market change we are seeking does not start with getting Costco to drop these offerings, it is to offer whole home energy analysis alongside whatever offerings they have. Let's face it, if a company can find a way to make a buck, they are going to make a buck. It's our job to make our offerings mainstream enough that people will know to get a qualified opinion rather than a one product sales hack.

Any accredited contractors in Bristol, CT that could locate the Mr. Koslosky (sp?) mentioned in the video and see if he still has ice dams? (which he probably does). It would be interesting to see the results of a real audit and what his actual energy savings were or weren't.
My wife had a sales guy from BJ's come out and quote a stock exterior door replacement for $1,500. I simply replaced the weatherstripping the next weekend.
It seems any big box store wants to push large margin items, not educate and offer customers what they actually need.

A broad, orchestrated, multi-faceted national education campaign would help, but what exactly would that look like? Home Star would be one part of it, EfficiencyFirst PSAs, a Ken Burns History of Energy in America documentary, a weatherization agency sitcom, and a Nova series would all help.
What do you think would help folks understand their energy use as well as they understand the weather?

Dale Sherman

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