An elderly couple from Helston were almost scammed out of £8,000 after being told they would be fined if they did not improve their home insulation.

In fact the claim from the door-to-door salesman was a complete lie, and no such fine exists.

The couple had been told that they would fined £1,000 if the improvements were made, and agreed to work that would have cost £8,000 if it had gone ahead.

Thankfully the couple cancelled the contract within the 14-day cooling-off period, but they had already paid a £430 deposit for spray foam insulation works to be carried out. They are now receiving support to secure a refund for the deposit they paid.

It was revealed as Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards team warns residents to be wary of home insulation scams.

With energy prices rising and winter on its way many people are looking at ways to improve the energy efficiency of their home. Unfortunately, this has provided an opportunity for rogue installers to pressure people into agreeing to work that is unsuitable for their property.

Gary Webster, senior trading standards officer at Cornwall Council, said: “It is important to be wary of businesses cold calling you to offer energy efficiency measures for your home.

"We regularly receive complaints each year about installers who claim to be working on behalf of the Government or the Council, offering grant funded work. This case was particularly shocking, as the customers were misled into believing that they would face massive fines if they did not improve their insulation.”

Community Energy Plus is a social enterprise that provides free advice to people about energy efficiency.

Laura Tregonning, senior project manager at Community Energy Plus, said: “Spray foam insulation is a technology that’s suitable in some situations, but careful advice should be sought before making a commitment.

"We’re Cornwall’s energy advice charity and would recommend that if anyone in Cornwall is contacted by a company offering this measure, that they should be on their guard and contact us on 0800 954 1956 before signing anything or paying a deposit.”

Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for public protection at Cornwall Council, said while it was important to tackle climate change and keep homes warm and healthy, it needed to done under the right advice.

He added: “There is financial assistance out there for homeowners who want to make these energy efficiency improvements but it is important to get the right advice so you can avoid those rogue businesses who are simply out to make a profit.”

Things to think about when considering works to make your home more energy efficient are:

• Be wary where you are approached following a cold call. Whilst some businesses do legitimately use these methods to find new customers, the council always would always recommend doing your own research, including looking at independent online reviews.

• Speak to reputable independent advisors, such as Community Energy Plus, to work out which energy efficiency measure is best for your home, the likely cost, and what funding you may qualify for.

• When dealing with a business, make sure they tell you who they are and which source of grant funding they are intending to access. Challenge any vague statements which suggest they are ‘working for the Government’ or ‘working for the council’.

• Genuine installers will offer a fair price for the work. Whilst they may be prepared to be negotiate a little, it is important to be suspicious if a salesperson or ‘surveyor’ offers a very large discount.

• There is no law that states that homeowners will be fined if they fail to make improvements to the energy efficiency of their home.

If consumers want to report a scam relating to energy efficiency, or would like further advice on their legal rights, they should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service 0808 223 1133.