Clearing Up Energy Saving Scams and Misleading Product Information

3rd December 2010

Whether you are looking to reduce your electricity bill or reduce carbon emissions or both, there are now a range of products on the market which claim to provide energy and money savings.

Worryingly however, not all products on the market actually do what they say on the box. Over at Open4energy, one of our favourite sources of knowledge on energy efficiency, there is a very interesting article that highlights some of the less reputable products on the market. Products that will in fact save you next to nothing!

Many of these products claim to reduce costs through the use of power factor correction.

[Think of Power Factor as a measure of the efficiency of the use of power. It is the ratio of real (resistive) power to apparent power. Real power is the power that does the work in the appliance. Apparent power is a measure of the power supplied by the electricity company

Resistive loads such as filament lights and kettles have a unity (or 1) power factor. This means that all the electricity from your utility supplier is used to drive the load.

Other loads such as those with motors e.g. washing machines and vacuums cleaners and also luminaries have a different type of load called which is inductive for these appliances. This loading can reduce the Power Factor to 0.7.

The Electricity Company has to supply extra to make up for the loss caused by poor Power Factor. A PF of 0.5 would mean that 50% of the available supply is being wasted.]

The misleading part about the claims for the products is that although the products may reduce costs for commercial and industrial users (which require power factor correction for improved reliability of their electrical equipment), this hardly applies for domestic users.

The truth is that our homes have devices which consume electricity at lower power factors, improving this power factor will mostly save a ‘negligible’ amount of electricity.

Don’t just take our word for it though. Follow the links provided above and note this from Energy Star: “We have not seen any data that proves these types of products for residential use accomplish what they claim. Power factor correction devices improve power quality but do not generally improve energy efficiency (meaning they won’t reduce your energy bill).”

So don’t be tricked into purchasing these products for residential use as they will not live up to the expectations on their packaging!

Let us know if you’ve been looking at any of these products as an energy saving device to help cut your energy use…

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