Consumer Energy Scam Watch

Open4Energy publishes lists of products that we believe make unreasonable claims in how they save consumers energy - which we define as "scams"

The product fall into three categories: One; Power Factor Correction scams; Two; Renewable Energy scams and Three: Free Energy scams.

I have linked the three directories above for ease of review and not for seo placements - if you Google any of "power factor correction scams" or "renewable energy scams" or "free energy scams" you will find that the lists we publish are in the top results.

I am creating this post as an opportunity for energy professional to contribute their experiences with any of these products. In particular, to correct us if we are incorrect in our understanding of a particular product - or to add experiences that will help clarify.

Some products are near fraud, and without any redeeming possibilities. This is especially true in the FREE energy category. Others are less obvious, like the worthless plans to build impractical solutions .

The group that I believe needs most discussion is that pertaining to power factor correction. The science of electricity and how Kwh is calculated makes it clear that correcting power factor will not alter the Kwh on an electricity bill. At the same time there are honest people who are convinced that adding a pf correcting device to a home has lowered their electricity bill.

I was able to test the exact affect on watts when adjusting pf supply to a small fan

PF = 100%  V = 121  A = 0.292  Watts = 35.4

PF = 033%  V = 121  A = 0.912  Watts = 36.3

Based on the above I do see a change of 2.54% in the Watts drawn by the motor, or put another way, it may be that pf correction does not change any Kwh calculation, but it can change the efficiency of the motor.

I was able to test the exact affect on Watts when adjusting pf supply to a cfl

PF = 076%  V = 121  A = 0.236  Watts = 21.7

PF = 020%  V = 121  A = 0.901  Watts = 21.7

I would appreciate any expert measurements, where a motor is operated at differing PF values, so we can be clear on any actual electricity savings.

I would not buy a unit to correct PF for a small fan, or a fridge if the energy use change is 2.54% - and at such low values could be a measuring error. But if changing the PF supply to a large heat pump motor, from say 80% to 98% really does allow the motor to operate more efficiently, this should be known.

I will still argue that the simplistic assertion that correcting PF saves 15% or 40% in an electricity bill is a scam, but without harming the legitimate efforts of the PF industry to correct PF on a circuit or device where savings can be achieved.

I look forward to the discussion, by experts (no product promoters) in this arena.

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Replies to This Discussion

Yes and yes

Many of our audits and retrofits have been under the aegis of a local community-owned utility which got a grant to partly subsidize these efforts. The grant has expired, but cooperation continues.

I insist on a starting with a year's worth of utility bills pursuant to an audit. That allows approximation of HVAC vs balance-of-home. Other major loads such as water heating, laundry and pool pumping are easy to estimate with a fair degree of certainty.

Clients with above average plug loads, such as multiple refrigerators or extravagent media centers are loaned a Kill-A-Watt or two and given the homework assignment of deploying them and reporting results.

We deploy retrofits with predicted savings anywhere from 15 to 50+% savings, and I'm rarely too far off the mark. I generally try to predict conservatively and bask in client delight when my savings forecast comes in a bit low.

This stuff ain't rocket science - we know what works and what doesn't.

...because you track, right?

Oh man I love hearing that. This exists SOMEWHERE on the resi level!!

A huge opportunity is being missed where I live because process ends at test out. My tracking was curiousity driven, not grant driven, so it's not systematized.

Any chance I can get a look at your process sequence and tracking? Details that seem "common sense" from looking back perspective are not. To systematize would require onerous development through painful trial and error I no longer have the energy for. And since I'm no longer doing audits the opportunity doesn't exist anyway.

Best practices for the approach you are using need to be documented and disceminated so others can adopt them and things can get headed in the right direction again.

I think you might be inferring too much from this...

Basically all I do is compare pre and post retrofit energy bills (nearly always just electricity) on a same month basis, adjust for climate if degree days are way off.

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