Saturday, July 21, 2012

The HPwES Conflict of Interest

This is a good example of the marketing gift or bribe, that forces contractors to employ HPwES:
His company also got public funds to advertise, for participation in HPwES. It could be thousands of dollars a year, giving advantage to biggest companies, and disadvantage to the small. A kick to a conscience-driven critic who won't go along with the stupid crime.

The guy in the clean shirt fixed nothing, and had negligible means to direct repairs by an indeterminate worker, perhaps a subcontractor, you know nothing about. Meager critical judgement by a naive assessor, that might be employed in subsequent work, is only the boilerplate that Homecheck software allows. Your investment of $450, rebated $150, locks you into a dangerous relationship, where you stand to be abused, often with blatant fraud related to your weird disempowerment. Even with $300 out of pocket, will you go for it? Will you know that the assessor likely has bias toward tasks and materials that might not be right for your needs, in another powerful aspect of the conflict of interest?

It will always be wrong to place a contractor in advantage over his customer. I prefer the reverse power dynamic, having only the power to walk off a job, at a loss. I  place myself at disadvantage by almost never asking advances on my investment in materials, and invoice work only when the customer is satisfied. I deposit payments only after all owed and volunteered documents, including rebate applications, have been issued. I think I am capable of misbehavior, where I might have spent the money. Customers do not abuse their sensed empowerment, including control over me through Angie's List reporting. Through seven years of this practice, I have no regrets.

In a most egregious form, HPwES enforces a conflict of interest, against those with low income. Here's how it works, with Oregon's Energy Trust:
Prior to beginning improvements, your Savings Within Reach participating contractor will ask you to sign an Income Verification form to confirm your eligibility to participate in the initiative, then examine your home and perform one free diagnostic Blower Door test* to identify the most effective upgrades that can be made. All improvements must be installed by an approved Savings Within Reach participating contractor. You are required to use the participating contractor who provides your Blower Door testing to perform all Savings Within Reach improvements.
The contractor pockets public funds, and the customer can't complain. There will almost never have been any meaning in the blower door test. It will never guide "work" done. Participating contractors will leave the major savings opportunities buried under crummy loose-fill, safely booby-trapped against inspection. That's all the poor customer could afford. Sponsors proudly boost the business of those sucked into Home Performance. Who cares?

There is broad consensus among professionals that conflict of interest should never be allowed, as in this discussion:

If you want your home inspected, call a licensed Home Inspector. If you are concerned about your furnace, call a pro. If you need insulation, new doors or windows, hire a specialist professional fully accountable to you. Find  professionals always A-rated at Angie's List. Don't expect your weatherization sponsor to send you someone you can trust. 

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