Marketing your product or service as energy efficient, or "green," has a certain advantage these days. Consumers in increasing numbers like the idea of using products that save energy or are otherwise environmentally friendly.

But consumers, unfortunately, can't automatically assume a product labeled "green" or "energy efficient" actually is. State attorneys general are grappling with that issue and Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett says you have to shop carefully.

In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Tom Corbett Attorney General Tom Corbett says consumers should shop carefully when considering products or services advertised as being "energy efficient," and to thoroughly review claims about financial savings or tax benefits related to certain purchases or home improvements.

"Consumers are anxious to find ways to conserve energy and save money, but it is important to fully evaluate any product or service to determine which is best for your particular situation," Corbett said. "It is vital that consumers educate themselves about all of their choices before spending hard-earned money on items that promise future savings."

That's particularly true when it comes to a marketer's claims about financial savings or tax benefits related to certain purchases or home improvements.

Corbett also recommended that consumers look for independent testing of the products they are considering, in order to properly calculate any possible savings, and verify their eligibility for any federal or state tax credits or energy incentives before committing to a purchase.

In addition to carefully reviewing the energy efficiency of particular products, Corbett stressed that consumers considering home improvement projects - including the replacement of windows and doors, or other large-scale changes - should verify that the installation business or contractor is registered with their state Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

For Pennsylvania consumers, Corbett said that all home improvement projects, including the installation of many energy-saving products, are covered by Pennsylvania's new Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which went into effect on July 1, 2009.

"This new law requires written contracts for all projects over $500, including specific information about the total price, a start-date and end-date, details about the materials being used and an explanation of a consumer's three-day right to cancel a contract," Corbett said. "The law also requires contractors to register with the Attorney General's Office, so consumers can learn about past problems, including lawsuits, bankruptcies and other issues that may impact their selection of a business."