Regarding energy saving magic boxes and other amazing new products
As I feared when the Federal Tax Credits took effect in January 09, we are starting to see hundreds of heavily advertised energy saving gadgets like power conditioners, surge suppressors, line filters, capacitor banks, power factor correctors, voltage reducers, appliance soft starters, demand reducers, load sequencing timers, solar concentrators, reflector heaters, battery additives, phase shifters, black boxes, green products, and magic beans coming out of the woodwork.
In the past three months alone the Internet has become saturated with new websites offering huge reductions to your utility bills if you just install the amazing new product they claim “the utility companies don’t want you to know about”. Or how about “you can save up to 25% of your home’s utility bill if you just order this $300 energy reducing device”.
I am getting covered up with email wanting me to check out the exciting new product someone just found and asking me if it is really true. I am going to answer all of these email requests right now, with this one simple reply.
1. If you think it sounds too good to be true, then it is too good to be true.
2. When any website states “up to 25% reductions in your utility bills are possible” and then provides a glowing testimonial from just one of their hundreds of satisfied buyers, odds are any examples they are highlighting are so far from a “normal” home that you could never achieve similar savings in your home or geographic location.
3. We design and install solar systems costing as much as $50,000.00 for custom homes and even these can usually only cut utility bills 30 to 40% due to the local climate, so achieving the same type savings with a device costing a few hundred dollars is just not possible. If it were, all of us solar slugs would stop risking life and limb climbing all over steep roofs and sticking our hands in live circuit breaker panels, and just start selling these easy plug-in devices they say can achieve the same energy savings.
4. An easy way to spot bogus products is their advertising. They start out with all kinds of fantastic energy savings claims, mention hundreds of satisfied customers, provide letters from some testing agency, but never, never, never actually tell you how it works. If you read through the entire web site and at the end you still do not know what the thing does, then perhaps there is a reason this information is not being provided.
5. Do not ask me check out another website, book, or video that is offering hundreds of low cost ways you can build your own solar modules, get used batteries for free, or build a wind turbine out of a vacuum cleaner or whatever. There have already been several house fires this year alone traced back to homemade solar modules that caught fire, and yes, I have seen just a small puddle of molten glass and metal remaining from one of these homemade solar projects. There is a reason real solar products are expensive, and it’s not due to high profit margins.
6. Please don’t ask, and if still in doubt, read #1 again!