Yesterday afternoon, as we are getting into our car in the driveway, I am approached by a complete stranger from Smart Care, kitted out in a blaze of orange, clip-board in hand.

He says he needs to check the air conditioning and the furnace. He is quite assertive. I ask if he is from the Government. Not exactly he says but its official and he needs to check the serial number of our furnace. It is all about up-grading furnaces and air conditioners to meet standards. He’s gotta check it all out.

Whoa! Not so fast.

He senses he caught us at a bad moment and says he will come back. I tell myself that’s the last we’ll see of him.

As we drive off I see him join two other Orange Day-Glo people on the street corner. They work in teams.

Now it is 6.45pm and I am in the kitchen preparing dinner. The bell rings and it is Mr Orange Day-Glo again.

I am at the front door in my apron, spatula in hand. I tell him I am not interested in whatever he is selling and he is not coming in. I tell him I’ve checked the website and he is not coming in. He looks mystified.

What website is that then?

The one that says you are not coming in.

He tells me he is an authorized contractor.

I tell him I am not arguing about it and I close the door.

This kind of door-stepping upsets me. It is predatory and dishonest. The trappings of officialdom are all there but we are talking about private contractors inveigling themselves into people’s homes, presumably to tell them their furnace or air conditioning has to be upgraded (if indeed it does).

The Government wants people to use electricity in an energy efficient way. I have no problems with this.

At arms length sits the Independent Electricity System Operator. It is a not-for-profit body, overseeing the electricity market, whose Chair and Directors are appointed by the Government of Ontario. So far so good.

The IESO also offers programs designed to encourage energy conservation through its website  There is a heating and cooling incentive program for people who have purchased eligible central heating or cooling equipment through a “participating contractor”. They offer a $250 discount encouraging you to upgrade your furnace to a high-efficiency one or $250-$400 to install a new “Energy Star” certified air conditioning system.

The part of the website Mr Orange Day-Glo is not familiar with reads as follows:

The Independent Electricity System Operator (EISO) formerly the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) does not call consumers to solicit participation in its programs. No IESO residential programs require door-to-door sales calls or the inspection of any heating and cooling equipment and the IESO does not charge a fee to participate in any of its conservation programs.

I am all in favour of saving the planet. Energy conservation is a good thing.

But I draw the line at sales people, masquerading as officials, insisting they have a right to enter your home to check serial numbers or anything else.

They don’t.

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