Energy Saving Fraud - #2

Ok this one is easy - Why does the "How Now Green Con" always pay off if you line up a sucker ?

Before I begin this is a continuation from  feeding lies to energy managers - you may want to start there.

So imagine you hear this :

Three claims : 
  1. "We have a boiler sequencing Gizmo.  We attach it to any boiler, and by reducing firing when demand is low it will save you energy"
  2. "We have proven it in independent trials where it achieved X% energy reduction without jeopardising comfort"
  3. "If it saves you 'X%' it would payback in ....weeks, so we will only charge you if it does, and this is how we will prove it. We will enable and disabled it alternatively on separate days for fourteen days.  We will compare the seven days when it was working with the seven when it was not and if you don't see an "X%" saving you will get your money back, and we will remove it - or (in an alternative) leave it in place free of charge."

Lets get the legitimate stuff out of the way first:

A red-hot iron object, transferring heat to th...
A red-hot iron object, transferring heat to the surrounding environment primarily through thermal radiation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you are using a boiler and demand is less than peak (think well-below freezing) - i.e. "almost all the time" - You can save money and energy by having it off some of the time. - That's obvious right !

If the boiler heats things (like water pipes and radiators or air ducts) you can reduce the temperature of operation - this inherently helps efficiency (water is cooler - so takes more heat from the flame, also less heat is lost from cooler pipes in transit - on low load this can be a big proportion).

Depending on time of year - savings are "always available". Since the heating system is designed for extreme heating needs, if it does not match demand very well there is some saving available for any time of year.  Yes this IS actionable, but don't be conned (we will look at how to achieve savings in a future post - this one is to make people stop and think).  So if you are an audit authority, you can stamp pretty much any device with a true saving claim - and that's their job - to encourage people to save energy - The con comes in how it is sold.


There are two "sub-cons" -

Did you ever hear the "tell the sex of your baby scam" ?

It is like this - 

Pay me 100 units and I will correctly guess whether you will be having a little Timmy or a Mary-Jane - so you can buy clothes the right colour (yep we are totally gender judgemental here :  Blue for a girl etc:).
If I "read the runes wrongly"  -I will not only give you your money back - I will refund you 50 units on top.

Always a winner (or 50% percent of the time). Guess right you win 100 units, guess wrong you lose 50 units - average win 25 per guess.

So this is the - "if I fit something at very little cost - I can hardly lose scam"

The other is more subtle and harder to judge

It is like this - 

Fact - If I keep the  temperature of your system lower by any means it will be more efficient.  (Switching off will do this !)

Fact  - If I keep the  temperature of your system higher by any means it will be less efficient.  (Switching on will do this !)

So if I can choose when the system is on or off I can schedule savings !

But -  BUT - BUT !

When I lower a target setting the system takes a while to cool - during which time it uses NO fuel - but does some heating.

When I raise a target setting, the system must be heated and the energy is stored (before that energy is transferred - ie boiling a kettle does not fill the cup with hot water).

So changing temperature targets is either get something for nothing (temporarily) followed by paying something for nothing (temporarily).

Lets take this to its logical extreme - there is a thermostat (costs 5 $ ). 

It turns things on an off (around an average).  

When its off it you spend nothing.  
When its on you spend 100% of capacity.

So is it fair to argue that by installing a thermostat I save 100% of your energy when its off ? - Doh! 

These con men are selling a thermostat - wrapped up in big scientific words!

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