Rogue installers are taking the opportunity to make doorstep and cold calls to vulnerable homeowners, pressuring them into installing overpriced and unnecessary insulation.
South Gloucestershire Council – along with six other Gloucestershire authorities and Trading Standards, are reporting a rise in doorstep and cold-call scams that seek to persuade householders to invest in spray-in insulation for their home.
The scam involves homeowners being told that the insulation they currently have in their property is either likely to cause damage or is soon to become illegal. They are then persuaded that they should opt for an alternative ‘spray-in’ insulation which is sold at an inflated price.
Dishonest companies often use databases of people aged 70 and over and lists of properties that have already had spray foam insulation installed to target potential victims. Commission-based salespeople then visit, posing as expert surveyors, to pressure homeowners into signing contracts for unnecessary and expensive work. This work is often carried out within days to avoid homeowners changing their minds.
The councils’ own home energy advice service, Warm and Well, is encouraging householders to remain vigilant and guard themselves against feeling pressured into paying for any upgrades to their property.
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Housing, Cllr Ben Stokes said: “Through our Warm and Well service, residents can access independent expert advice and, in many cases, grant funding towards work that improves their property’s energy efficiency. This can help people make significant savings to energy bills and supports our efforts to tackle the climate emergency. Unfortunately, scams like this undermine confidence in legitimate insulation schemes, which rarely use doorstep selling tactics. Our guidance is always to seek advice yourself and if you’re concerned that you may have been targeted by a scam, contact Trading Standards via the Citizen’s Advice helpline.”
Written in collaboration with the Trading Standards team at South Gloucestershire Council, Warm and Well have published advice on spotting and avoiding the tell-tale signs of scams, which can be accessed online at warmandwell.co.uk/scams
Bernadette Muldowney, who leads the Warm and Well team, explains the risks: “We love insulation! It is one of the best ways we can reduce the energy we need to heat our homes, and it is one of the most powerful weapons we have in the fight against climate change. But unfortunately, this does open the door for unscrupulous companies who take advantage of people’s best intentions and sell them expensive improvements that they don’t need. Not only is this costly, but it may result in long-term damage to the property. We strongly encourage householders to remain vigilant, recognise the tell-tale signs of scams and seek independent advice rather than agreeing to opportunities that arrive unannounced on the doorstep.”
The Warm and Well service is delivered by local charity Severn Wye Energy Agency and is funded by South Gloucestershire Council along with Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucester City Council, Stroud District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council. Warm and Well offers free home energy advice and grant funding and can be contacted on freephone 0800 500 3076.