A GOVERNMENT scheme designed to promote renewable energy is being exploited by a new breed of “eco-cowboys”, it is claimed.

Dorset-based H2ecO has coined the term “ecowboys” to describe renewable energy installers who falsely claim to offer installations covered by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The initiative offers incentive payments over seven years to householders and businesses which install renewable heating technology. The aim is to help them recover the cost of installation.

Mike Stephenson, director of H2ecO at Holton Heath, claims unscrupulous traders have been installing unsuitable systems and wrongly claiming to be Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited. He says some customers have been overcharged and left with wrongly installed systems.

He said he had two calls recently from people who had fallen victim to con artists.

“My advice for people wanting to make the most of the RHI is to check that the company you are dealing with is MCS accredited in its own right. You can check this out on the MCS website where there is an ‘accredited installers’ search facility,” he said.

“Secondly, and in our opinion equally important, is to look for installers that hold manufacturers accreditations. Companies like Panasonic, Daikin and other top brands will only issue accreditation to installers that have passed extensive training and exams.

“Don’t rely on a logo on the installer’s website as they can easily be copied from the web. Go to the manufacturer’s websites and use their approved installer search to check that the company claiming to be accredited actually is.”

He said the scheme was a “brilliant incentive” but consumers needed to choose a credible installer and call trading standards if they had fallen victim to a bad one.