Consumers who think they are saving money by buying so-called energy saving devices (ESDs) may just be making an unnecessary expense, especially if they already have energy-efficient appliances.
The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) says sales people in stores demonstrate the usefulness of the gadgets by showing “some value going down” using a multi-tester. Meralco says what actually goes down “is not power. That’s the current.”
The power company says a warning posted above the multi-tester warns: “Do not touch/rotate selector switch,” which is always pointed to measure the current.
Meralco says ESDs are power factor correction devices, designed to improve the power factor of a system or the measure of how efficiently power is being used by an appliance/equipment or device.
“As power factor improves, current goes down. That’s what makes people believe that it actually works—the change in the display of the multi-tester from a high current reading to a lower one,” Meralco says.
Tests show ESDs only “correct power factor” and make your appliance use electricity more efficiently. Sales people present the drop in current “as proof of reduced electrical consumption,” Meralco says.
New appliances, equipment and gadgets already have high energy efficiency ratios or EER, as required by the Department of Trade and Industry and equivalent government agencies elsewhere, so they do not need another device to make them more fuel-efficient.
Meralco adds that consumers “are not billed” for a bad power factor nor “for current alone.” In other words, they are not billed for how efficient their appliances are. They are billed for watts or kilo-watts used over time.
The power company says people who want to control their electrical bills have to be mindful of their power consumption and be smart in their choice of appliances. Saving energy is not just a matter of plugging a device then going about our profligate ways, as usual.
I think there is a misconception about what energy saving is all about. Most consumers think saving energy only means lowering their electric bills while they go about their merry way and consume the same amount of electricity. They protest high rates but do not bother to look at how they can reduce their consumption.
Energy saving is not just about cutting costs. There is a much larger goal—protecting the environment. Most power plants use finite resources to bring consumers electricity—gas, coal, etc.
The mindless and wasteful use of energy, in addition to old and ill-maintained power plants, is causing a severe shortage and has given campaigners for the operation of the nuclear plant reason to revive their advocacy.
As has been repeatedly said, God helps those who help themselves. We cannot lower our energy bills simply by asking Meralco and other power providers to reduce their rates. We have to be pro-active energy consumers not just to ease our financial burden but, even more important, to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development.
Meralco says saving energy involves three factors—appliance/equipment or device, time and the consumer. “Manage the kilo-watt and manage the time. It’s not enough that the appliance alone is efficient, we as users should be efficient as well,” it says.
Consumers owe it to themselves, their children and future generations to start thinking about the environment now. By being wise fuel users, consumption will be reduced and fewer power plants will be needed, making the nuclear power plant unnecessary.
Saving energy now can also help ensure there will be enough for those who come after us.
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