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Continued: Whistleblower: Radiant barriers show dubious benefits in Minnesota

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN
  • Last update: April 29, 2013 - 9:41 AM

Using an Energy Department online calculator, a Minneapolis homeowner with attic ductwork could save up to $40 per year by attaching a radiant barrier to the rafters. But the company’s website shows a horizontal application, which wouldn’t cover the ductwork and which would become less effective over time as dust settles on it.

Most Minnesotans don’t have ductwork in their attics, which causes savings to drop dramatically. Whistleblower put her home in the calculator and found she could realize a 20-year savings of $0. But adding a little more fiberglass insulation could save $140 a year.

The unnamed companies, which typically market their products over complimentary meals, are charging $2,000 or more to install their products, according to the Commerce Department. With a $20-per-year savings, it would take 100 years to break even. That’s an expensive free dinner.

The company that Stopa said put on the presentation in Oshkosh, Innovative Energy Solutions of Edina, failed to return several phone calls from Whistleblower seeking comment.

BBB ratings

After Stopa researched radiant barriers, he filed complaints against Innovative with several Better Business Bureaus, including the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “The IES salesman made a big point that the BBB rated Innovative Energy Solutions as an A,” Stopa said. The complaint appeared to have no effect on the business’ rating.

BBB ratings are based in part on how responsive companies are to complaints, according to Dan Hendrickson,spokesman for the BBB.

“Overall, [Innovative has] been responsive to our concerns” and recommendations, and, Hendrickson continued the relatively few customer complaints the BBB has received have been resolved.

In its response to Stopa’s complaint to the BBB, Innovative said he was confused and that its product was different than what the Department of Commerce was warning about.

On Friday, the BBB put the company’s rating on “update until they’ve addressed a couple of follow-up concerns regarding energy savings claims on their website,” Hendrickson said.

Stopa, a business owner, said that he won’t be renewing his membership in the BBB of Wisconsin because he now considers its rating system meaningless.

To calculate how much you could save by having a radiant barrier installed, go to www.startribune.com/a2213.

 

Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852

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