My friend received a flyer in the mail the other day from Hawkins Electric Service, Inc. about a product that could save him “up to 25% on [his] electricity bill without changing [his] lifestyle.” Apparently, all American homes poorly handle inductive loads and thus lose much of it without even using it. Inductive load is required on anything that runs on a motor and those motors require an amount of non-working reactive power to create an electromagnetic field to operate. Your electric company delivers this reactive power to your home without much knowledge of how much you’ll need and then your motor-equipped appliances draws on what it needs to operate. The excess is sent back to your box and is lost as heat, this loss is called I2R loss or line loss. The idea is that you’re paying for this I2R/line loss when you could’ve installed the Power-Save 1200 (the product that can save you up to 25%) and have it capture this power for later use.
My friend and I are both skeptical about the $300 product because neither one of us really buys the fact that we lose that much electricity in the form of line loss (I would agree that some loss occurs, but 25% of my electricity disappears as heat? I’m not sure). In a pretty exhaustive search online, I couldn’t really find much information discussing the recapture of unused load (there was a lot of other information about recapturing energy, but nothing on electricity in the home).
Phantom power drain: One interesting thing I did find was that a study by the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley and the Energy Analysis Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that in a study of ten California homes (yes, it’s a small data set, but what can you do), the total standby power used by each home ranged from 14W to 169W, the average being 67W. This corresponds to 5-26% of a home’s annual energy use. This power use is generally called phantom power drain and seems like an easier target for a savings of “up to 25%” than a $300 unit attached to your power box.
Lastly, somewhat related to this topic is the idea of energy saver systems for the induction motors themselves, because as they operate they lose a bit of the energy as heat depending on their efficiency. I discovered this extremely technical analysis on energy saver systems for induction motors that covers the marketing idea of making a particular induction motor driven item more efficient. Ultimately I believe the article is saying that they’re not worth it.
Anyone do any research on this idea of recapturing unused electrical load?