Beware of energy savings scams
FARGO - People need to avoid being taken in by false claims that they can save energy by buying certain devices. "While there are many pieces of equipment that are able to use energy resources more efficiently, essentially getting more bang for t...
FARGO - People need to avoid being taken in by false claims that they can save energy by buying certain devices.
"While there are many pieces of equipment that are able to use energy resources more efficiently, essentially getting more bang for the buck, there are also some that just do not measure up to advertisers' claims in energy reductions," warns Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.
Today's interest in going green increases the potential for scams, he says.
Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are an example of a product that can produce the desired result while making definite energy savings. CFL bulbs produce the same amount of lumens or light as comparable incandescent bulbs while consuming far less electricity.
On the other hand, examples of devices that are not proven to actually reduce energy bills include power conditioning products that make claims of energy savings ranging from 5 percent to 50 percent. They have a variety of names, such as power factor correction devices, amp reduction units or kVARs. The idea is that once installed, the power conditioner or energy controller will save money on electric bills by reducing the reactive power (kVAR) used by electrical motors in residential appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, no data is available that proves these devices reduce energy consumption in residential settings, and while they may increase power quality, that does not translate into energy savings for the residential consumer. Residential energy is billed in kilowatt hours, not according to the power quality or power factor.
Some potential exists for power conditioners to work in large industrial settings, but the conditioner would need to be connected to the actual motor. In a residential setting where the installation is expected to condition power for all the electric motors in a home, it simply will not produce any savings.
"If you are looking to reduce energy consumption in a home, steer clear of the claims that seem too good to be true and stick with the proven ways to reduce energy, such as installing energy-efficient light bulbs or reducing the thermostat on your water heater, or the simplest energy saving device of all, using the light switch," Pedersen says. "Turn the lights off when you leave the room."