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Beware Of “miracle Devices”

“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That saying rings especially true for claims about energy-saving devices dramatically cutting heating and cooling costs.

Ads made to look like news stories abound for “Amish style” fireplaces, a “miracle device” that supposedly can slash heating bills. The appliance is simply a space heater hidden inside a false fireplace with a wooden mantel. Amish workers make the mantels at a factory.

On the flip side are evaporative coolers that say they will inexpensively cool a room. The inside of the unit consists of cold water and ice packs, like those used in lunch boxes. The water wets a curtain; a fan blows air through the curtain and over the ice packs, theoretically providing a cool breeze.

But do they work? Consumer Reports found that even in desert-like conditions, one device cooled a test room only two degrees.

There’s no substitute for old-fashioned measures like weatherstripping around doors, caulking around windows, and adding insulation to your attic.

“When it comes to saving energy, there are no magic solutions.”
—Brian Sloboda of NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network

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