Citizens Advice Winchester District is taking part in this year’s National Consumer Week to help you know how to stay safe when making your home more energy efficient.

Citizens Advice has found that in the south-east 61% of adults are thinking about making their homes more energy efficient in the next 12 months. But 30% said they have already been targeted by a green scam. Being scammed doesn’t just leave us out of pocket, it can leave us feeling vulnerable, isolated and really knock our confidence.

Here’s our five top tips to stay safe when making your home more energy efficient:

Do your research. Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews on different websites, ask for references, verify the company’s details using external sources, and read any terms and conditions.

Check certified schemes. When looking for a trader to use, check certified schemes that recommend traders, like TrustMark – the Government’s endorsed quality scheme.

Get written quotes and a contract. Try to get quotes from at least three different contractors to help you decide if you’re getting a fair price. Once you’ve decided, always get a written contract before you give a contractor the go-ahead.If something goes wrong it can help get what you paid for, or at least get some of your money back.

Pay with a secure method. Credit cards offer the most protection, followed by PayPal or debit card. If you’re paying for large home improvement works, see if you can pay in stages, and avoid paying for costs up-front where possible.

Be suspicious. Scammers and rogue traders can be very smart. Take your time to make sure you’re happy with your decision – if someone pressures you or contacts you out of the blue, it’s most likely a scam.

If you’ve been scammed, talk to your bank or card company immediately if you’ve handed over any financial and sensitive information or made a payment.

You can report a scam to the Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 0808 223 1133. If you’d like advice from your local advice team, then you can contact Citizens Advice Winchester District on 0808 278 7861.