Saving energy is something that is on almost every home-owners mind these days. Whether you are looking for ways to cut your ever-increasing energy bills, or simply want to reduce your carbon footprint, there are lots of devices on the market that promise they can help you.
The question is, do these energy-saving devices really work, or are they simply fancy looking white boxes that nothing other than cost you even more money?
The answer is, it depends. Some energy-saving devices work by directly reducing the amount of power your appliances or heating systems consume, others rely on power factor correction. Those devices do offer substantial potential savings.
There are, however, some devices that simply highlight the amount of energy you are using. These devices do not offer a direct energy saving, however, they may help you to identify power-hungry devices.
How Energy Saving Devices Work
Power factor correction devices work by reducing inefficiencies in the electrical supply. Some kinds of appliances (primarily ones which have electric motors) have “inductive reactive currents” which place an additional burden on the electrical supply.
Power factor correction devices use capacitors to counteract the inductive elements of the power load, improving the efficiency of the power supply. If you have appliances with inefficient motors, then using a power factor correction device will make these more efficient.
Other power-saving devices work by making your appliances use less energy (for example allowing you to control the temperature of each room in your home automatically), or cutting off the electricity supply while not in use.
You may have noticed that when you turn some appliances off at the wall, they still have a standby light on them. Some devices, such as older mobile phone chargers, still draw power when plugged in even if they are not being used to charge a device.
Using an energy-saving power strip that automatically shuts down the supply to the power sockets when the devices attached to the socket are not in use could save you a substantial amount of energy over the course of a year.
Do remember that shutting off the electrical supply to a device while it is on standby may cause the device to lose its settings if it does not have an internal battery. Check the instruction manual for each device before using it with a “smart” power strip.
It is important to note that the “energy-saving” meters promoted by many companies do not actually change the amount of energy that you use. These devices can be helpful to help you understand energy usage, however.
You could use one of those meters to figure out how much energy your computer uses while it is in power-saving mode and make an educated decision as to whether the convenience of having the computer switched on throughout the day outweighs the energy savings of turning it off when you are not using it.
In conclusion, energy-saving devices do work, but you should choose the right device for each room.