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Myths, Scams and Half-Truths:  The World of Energy Scams

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Myths, Scams and Half-Truths:  The World of Energy Scams. Brian Sloboda Senior Program Manager [email protected] What We’ll Cover. Sample of most popular scams Smart questions to ask any salesman. Power Factor Correction. A little box Prices: Up to $500 Residential capacitor.

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Presentation Transcript
what we ll cover
What We’ll Cover
  • Sample of most popular scams
  • Smart questions to ask any salesman
power factor correction
Power Factor Correction
  • A little box
  • Prices: Up to $500
  • Residential capacitor
kvar claims
KVAR claims
  • Boosts power to 100% efficiency
  • Save around 10%
  • Specially designed for small commercial and residential
  • News clips on web site support the claims
what s bad about the rpu 190
What’s Bad About the RPU-190?
  • Breaking the seal between the electric meter and the meter base
  • Stealing electricity from the utility
  • Might kill you
power optimizers
Power “Optimizers”
  • Actually small capacitors, these can be legitimate devices to improve power factor
  • However, the savings claimed for a homeowner who is not being charged for power factor by the utility is highly disputable
  • EPRI study found KVAR unit saved 0.23%
the problem is
The Problem Is…
  • Residential kilowatt-hour meters measure and charge for watts consumed
  • kWh meters do not measure (or charge for) power factor (that requires a kVa meter)
  • So, if a home has a poor power factor, the homeowner is not held accountable – the utility has to correct for any power factor problems on the distribution system
for more information
For More Information
    • Keywords: energy-saving boxes
the facts
The Facts
  • You can build solar panels at home
  • Great project for kids
  • Not ideal for powering a home
  • Go with energy efficiency and conservation first, then traditional panels
refrigeration oil additives
Refrigeration Oil Additives
  • Liquid added to refrigeration systems
  • Claim to increase lubrication, reduce heat
  • Energy savings of 5-30%
  • Several vendors
  • Chemical components vary
  • Products displace dirt and oil film
the facts1
The Facts
  • These are tough to debunk
  • Some promising technologies might work
  • Independent tests are rare and some are old
  • Tests should be conducted on old equipment not brand new
space heaters
Space Heaters
  • Easy to use
  • Heat small spaces
  • Prices range from $20 - $500+
  • Some products claim huge energy savings
do they work
Do They Work
  • Yes
  • Savings claims are based on zone heating
other products cheaper
Other Products Cheaper
  • Electric space heaters are all the same
  • When buying an expensive heater you are paying for the look not the efficiency
  • For more information:
    • Keywords: space heaters
motor voltage controllers
Motor Voltage Controllers
  • Sense the load on a motor
  • Adjust voltage to motor when the motor is lightly loaded
  • Partially loaded motors are inefficient
  • Patented in 1977 by NASA engineer
  • Costs: $800 - $5,000
  • Soft start
  • Phase balancing
  • Voltage surge protection
  • Undervoltage & phase loss protection
  • All true!
  • Savings depend on size of motor and what it is used for
  • Motors are around 90%+ efficient
  • Efficiency can stay even under 50% loading
  • Savings on a 200-horsepower (hp), 460-volt, 1,800-rpm GE motor would be around 1.5kW or 5% at 20% load
how do you tell if something is a scam or good product
How Do You Tell if Something is a Scam or Good Product?
  • Independent testing is best bet
    • Tests need to replicate real world conditions
    • Do tests use new or used equipment?
    • How long did test run? Was it long enough?
    • Testing is expensive
questions to ask
Questions to Ask
  • Does it violate the laws of physics?
    • “changing of the molecular structure. . .to release never-before tapped power.”
  • What independent lab tested it?
    • Contact the lab and talk to them
  • Is it too good to be true?
    • Tough to answer this one honestly
  • What is the Payback?
    • Too long and it isn’t saving enough energy

Brian Sloboda