I told my wife it was a scam when she first told me that a local electricity provider would pay for a company to come to our home, audit our energy use, seal HVAC connections points throughout the house to prevent air loss, weatherstrip doors, install foam insulators behind light switches and plugs, and seal plumbing penetrations beneath the sinks — all at no cost to us. All of that sounded like a lot of work (work that needed to be done, but work nonetheless), so why would anyone do that for free?

But she scheduled the company, E3 Solutions, to stop by the house anyway after a friend’s recommendation, and after about three hours of testing and sealing and fixing, the friendly four-man crew packed up and left — all without asking for any money from us whatsoever.

There’s lots more, after the jump…

There are a couple of catches to the deal: Your house must have been built prior to 2002, and you must be in a "qualifying service delivery area" paying your electricity bill to TXU, Stream, Gexa, Green Mountain, Reliant or any of a host of others selling electric service in the Dallas area. And you must be able to give the company access to attic ducts — if all of your air ducts are in the floor, they can’t help. There are some other potential exclusions, too, but the company generally needs to stop by your house to check it out before making a decision — but it’s all done right there at the same time, no rescheduling or coming back later.

Again, I was skeptical, but no money changed hands, and a bunch of work that I could have done myself but probably never would have was completed. And now our air-handling system and most of the other obvious energy issues in the house should be leak-free. After experiencing the process first-hand, I don’t see a downside. The guy did mention that from time to time, if a house doesn’t have enough attic insulation, the company will offer to blow some in at a "heavily discounted" price, but there’s no obligation to do so (for what it’s worth, they didn’t try to sell us any insulation, either). And although the explanation was a little vague, it sounds like the "local electricity provider" has an annual budget to pay for this work, and when the budget’s gone, the gravy train is over.

If you’re interested, visit the Take A Load Off Texas website, send an email to mrnewnham80@yahoo.com or call 214-995-9581. When the crew finished at our house, they drove down the street to a neighbor’s (they couldn’t help there because of the home’s HVAC layout), then returned to work on our neighbor’s house next door.