Energy saving products? Do your homework first.

There are many companies selling products which are being touted as energy saving devices. Members may have received a postcard in the mail with an invitation to a free dinner to learn about these products. The old adage of “if something looks to good to be true, then maybe it is” rings true with many of these products. When it comes to saving energy, there really is no miracle or magic product. The following are some of the products that members have recently contacted CCEC about, inquiring about their energy saving potential.

Radiant Barriers & Thermal Paint

There are many types of radiant barriers, with energy savings claims of 25-35 percent. This product is basically a foil-covered foam that can be placed on top of existing insulation in the attic. Studies have shown that radiant barriers wouldn’t have a huge impact on heating in cold climates; they are more effective in cooling dominated climates. In our area, if the attic insulation is minimal, it would make more sense to add more insulation. Another product that has similar energy claims is thermal reflective paint, which claims to eliminate the heat loss in ceiling and interior walls. Though the energy savings claims are lower on this type of product, it is still important to ask questions and know this will really have no impact on your energy bill.

Power Conditioning

Whole house power factor correction or power conditioning is another subject that members have asked about. They claim energy savings of up to 25 percent and extend the life of household appliances. Test results show these products are unlikely to save people anything, though they do offer surge protection. Simply, power factor is a measure of how well you use electricity so the financial savings provided to a residential consumer are quite small, if even noticeable.

Infrared Heaters

Another product that remains a popular topic for our members, is the space heaters with the nice cabinets, many costing over $300. Many offer energy savings claims of up to 50 percent. In the fine print, it states that the energy savings comes from turning the main furnace down to a much lower temperature; around 50°F and then using the space heater just in the room that is being occupied. That is serious conservation and for most people, these typically have the opposite effect for homeowners, adding to the overall heating cost. They also use words like quartz technology, radiant heat, or copper heat exchangers, though the electrical efficiency of these heaters is the exact same as a space heater one can buy at a hardware store. They are no more efficient than a standard $30 space heater, which means they will cost the same to operate.

It is okay to be a little skeptical of devices with big energy savings claims. These are just a few examples of some products, though there are many more out there. While CCEC would like to help save energy, these may not put members on a path to energy savings, and instead just cost additional money. CCEC encourages members to call with any questions on these products. CCEC is willing to give advice to make economic and effective choices when it comes to saving energy.

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