Get Smart about Energy™


Have you been bamboozled?

I hope not, but no matter how you found us; as a green energy expert, a consumer in distress or simply wondering what the fuss is all about, welcome to this second post in our five part expose' of consumer energy scams. Last week we introduced our subject of energy scams.

Scam Alert In this second edition we examine four categories of technology which underpin the products in our directory of energy scams. There are also many green business scams going around; marketing, financial, informational, utilities and authorities. Please take care, it is frustrating to see those who care being duped!

All technology scams contain an element of technical truth. The scam is created by twisting this truth into something that sounds reasonable, bamboozling the consumer who does not have sufficient technical knowledge to avoid being fooled!

1) Power Factor Correction
Power Factor is a technical term used to describe the relative angle of volts to amps. The power factor can be adjusted (corrected) and this IS an energy efficiency issue for our utilities and large industrial users. For consumers, correcting power factor will do little to save heat (resistance) losses in your homes wiring. If you have a wire that is getting hot please call an electrician immediately.

Do not be deceived by on-line videos showing a drop in amps when a power factor correction unit is connected. The meter should show a drop in amps, but this has no effect on your electricity bill. Consumers pay for Kilowatt hours (Volts x Amps x Power Factor) - as amps go down (up to 35%) so power factor goes up (the same 35%) - Kwh will NOT CHANGE.

Please follow this link for a more technical explanation on power factor titled Power Factor: Dissipating the Myths published by David Stonier-Gibson of SPLat Controls. We thank him for his on-going support.

If you are uncertain as to the accuracy of open4energy's opinion we suggest you review this study by ScienceDaily - (Dec. 18, 2009) "If you've seen an Internet ad for capacitor-type power factor correction devices, you might be led to believe that using one can save you money on your residential electricity bill. However, a team including specialists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have recently explained why the devices actually provide no savings by discussing the underlying physics".

2) Free Energy
Electricity is created when a force (motion) is applied (usually a coil of wire) in a magnetic field. The electricity generated is actually converted mechanical energy. It is not FREE magnetic energy.

Most magnetic energy scams are derivatives of the original Magniwork Perpetual Motion scam. By Chris at Mapawatt - "I have confirmed with my own eyes that Magniwork is a SCAM! One of the readers was kind enough to share the Magniwork plans with me and they are laughable. The whole “document” is 57 pages long and looks like something a kid in high school put together. The final “generator” is basically a magnet that is 2″ high sitting on a turntable that is 4″ high!"

Please do not be fooled into paying for plans that purport to show you how to make an energy efficiency anything!

3) Solar Energy
My goodness, where does one start? The internet is filled with misinformation. From foolish plans that suggest home built solar panels to some quite useful suggestions on D.I.Y. - but be warned lest you find yourself on the wrong side of a building inspector. Labor is a significant cost in any solar energy project. There are honest ways to save on these costs if you know what you are doing. This small series titled Guide to Home Solar Energy for DIY Enthusiasts was written by a licensed solar energy expert.

The best way to protect yourself is to speak to people you trust who have REAL expertise. Do not make your decision with the sales person present. You must take advantage of our promotion now is usually code for I am about to scam you. Take a few days to review a written proposal. Be sensitive to well meaning self appointed experts. A passionate belief in something does not make it technically correct!

4) Standby Energy
I am always suspicious when I hear emotive words like Vampire Power used to describe what I know by more mundane and descriptive words like standby power and residual power!

open4energy has a rule which states; the amount of marketing hype will be inversely proportional to any products value. I am sorry to say that our review titled Understanding Vampire Power was no exception!

There is nothing wrong with buying a quality power strip, or even better a surge protected quality power strip. But please do so and enjoy the features that it offers without being misled into thinking that it is saving energy. The best way to save energy is to use a dumb mechanically switched strip, cost circa $10.00, and to switch off an outlet when YOU KNOW that it is no longer being used.

Most electrical appliances are designed with a standby mode. Consider a television, there needs to be a minimal amount of power for it to 'hear' your remote control. It is important that you consider the amount of standby power an appliance uses when considering your next purchase. But manufacturers have been regulated regarding standby power for some years now.

Almost all cell phone chargers do NOT use electricity once the cell phone is fully charged. My blue tooth headset has a small L.E.D that glows green (residual power) when it is fully charged. Oops I see that I forgot to disconnect my cell phone last night. It was a long day and I was thinking about submitting this post more than my personal energy efficiency. A smart strip would not have helped. And it uses more power to be smart (a small microprocessor) than it could have saved. I measured this, see our article titled Phantom Power - Charging your BlackBerry written some time back.

I hope that this review has better equipped you to avoid these four categories of energy scams. In conclusion, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Follow this link to read our third post titled: Feeding on Consumer Energy Scams.

Get Smart about Energy™