Beware of fake energy savers

By Herbert Vego

YOU must have seen at least one “power saver” advertised on TV that promises to save you as much as 90 percent of your electricity consumption, thus reducing your power bill. Well, who would not want to miss such an opportunity to save money?

But wait! If you have a neighbor who has bought that plug-in device, see him. He would probably relay the same tale as I am about to say.

You see, when my better-half bought two pieces of what looked like a computer mouse at the buy-one-take-one price of ₱500, I asked for her explanation.  She looked at the accompanying leaflet and read, “Reduces energy consumption by 50 percent.” The other details were in Chinese characters.

During a visit to the house of my brother Jesse, he revealed having bought five pieces of the same plug-in device for the same number of power outlets.

To make the long story short, nabudol kami. Our electricity bills remained within the usual, pre-device bracket.

My brother went to the extent of e-mailing the Department of Energy (DOE), which confirmed his suspicion. In fact, the DOE had served a public notice dated July 27, 2022 warning against the fake plug-in gadgets.

In that public notice, the DOE denied the authenticity of the video circulating online regarding its alleged endorsement of the energy-saving devices. As of today, the DOE has yet to find an energy-saving device that can satisfy its claim of efficiency.

Energy savers of different brands from different counties must have fooled millions of people worldwide, since they are well advertised online.  An American “victim” claimed to have “dissected” the interior of the device, only to discover nothing but capacitors with no capacity to support the manufacturer’s assertion that it is an intelligent power-saving tool.

For further information, I contacted my good friend Engr. Bailey del Castillo, vice-president for Network Development and Operations of MORE Power, Iloilo City’s power-distribution utility.

“When that device surfaced eight years ago, online platforms were not yet prevalent,” he said, “But the device was gaining popularity, nevertheless. So, we purchased five units, each with a different brand, for comprehensive testing. Unfortunately, none of them showed any savings in energy consumption.”

At that time, Del Castillo was an electrical engineer for Visayan Electric Company (VECO) in Cebu City.

“We visited the laboratory of the Meralco [Manila Electric Company],” Del Castillo continued, “and found out that they too had conducted tests on various energy-saving devices but came up with the same finding as ours.”

If it were true that these so-called “energy savers” could improve efficiency at less cost, MORE Power would have encouraged their use to attract more customers. No less than MORE Power President Roel Z. Castro has repeatedly sought to “improve the delivery of services at less cost to the customers.”

This commitment is obvious in the way the company has dramatically reduced its system’s loss from a whopping 30.15 percent on takeover from the previous distribution utility in 2020 to a mere 9.68 percent today. System’s loss may be passed on or charged to the consumer as stipulated by the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994 (RA 7832).

Systems loss refers to the unbilled power caused by pilferage and physical loss of energy when electricity passes through distribution lines.

On our own, for example, we may save on power bills by using less wattage.  A case in point is eliminating incandescent bulbs which may consume 60 watts to shine a room adequately. The modern LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, on the other hand, may shine as bright at 10 watts.

We may save on air-conditioning bills by using an air-conditioner only when the temperature is too hot to rely on electric fans, or using it in a shorter time.

Others may prefer free electricity with the use of “jumpers,” but it could send them to jail.