See the light before signing
Vacations are relaxing and refreshing. Also, I get to answer the telephone and the door at home to see the same people that my neighbours encounter when vendors sell services and products direct to consumers.
- Know what your rights are when people come to your door to sell something;
- Talk to your home insurance carrier or broker before you sign an agreement or install something. Have a lawyer, or your insurance agent, read the proposal before you sign it;
- The Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator sets the rules on how electricity vendors can operate;
- Consumer protection information information is available at the Ontario Energy Board web site.
This is a cautionary note about the rooftop solar installers going door-to-door. New Ontario Legislation prevents a valid contract from being signed at the door to give homeowners added time to think, and protection from high-pressure doorstep sales pitches. While I was the Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministry of Energy, I cautioned (and continue to caution) homeowners on rooftop home solar photovoltaic (i.e. that generate electricity) installations.
You need to read the contract very carefully, and have time to think about it, possibly consult a lawyer, and certainly verify the arithmetic. If the sales pitch is that the Ontario power grid will buy all the electricity your rooftop can produce at very high rates, close the door and stop right there. If it reads, or sounds, like it is just too good to be true, it probably is not true.
Time is on the side of the purchaser
As it stands now, the amortization time (years it takes to pay off the capital cost of the panels and other equipment) is almost the same as how long the gear lasts. The costs of the panels themselves are falling in a manner similar to how such consumer products as flat-screen televisions fell after they gained a share in the consumer market. The gear is less expensive now than it was a year ago. As well, electricity storage technology is about to undergo a seismic shift, enabling an integrated solar photovoltaic (“solar PV”) installation to go from science fiction to reality.
Solar PV is not the same as solar space heating. Want to heat your swimming pool, or possibly your house, with solar heating panels? That is a different product, different configuration, and different decision than solar PV. Do your research before, not after, you buy anything or sign any type of agreement.
Solar space heating and solar PV can both be expensive, time-consuming processes between a decision and the time you are either generating electricity or heat for personal consumption. Don’t get seduced by a cash-up-front or any guaranteed cash flow offer before you have seen and thought about the contractual agreement, and before you have had time to reflect on what it means to you, your home, any subsequent buyers for your property, and whether it makes sense in your personal circumstances.
Everything above also applies when people try and sell you water heaters; lawn care services; snow removal; natural gas or electricity supply contracts.