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Protect Yourself From Energy Scams

Beware of energy-saving claims
You don’t have to look far these days to find ads touting devices that will drastically cut your electric bill. Electric co-ops and consumer protection agencies, however, caution you to think twice before spending money on these items.

Two products to watch out for
One example is the Xpower Energy Saver, a $200 cylinder that plugs into the wall. A University of Texas lab tested the device, concluding that it could not live up to its promise of reducing energy consumption by 25 percent. The lab said the product is an ordinary capacitor, which stores electric charges for a short time, worth less than $20.

Another device—the RPU-190—claims to cut electric bills in half. It is essentially a copper wire to be installed into the electric meter by the consumer, according to the Cooperative Research Network in Arlington, Virginia. While CRN agrees that the RPU-190 would cut electric bills significantly, it reports that the device is dangerous and illegal, requiring the consumer to bypass the electric meter in order to steal power from the utility.

Where to get good advice
The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission warn consumers to be careful about marketers or contractors aggressively selling energy-saving products. The FTC says consumers should look for independent information about product performance.

“Unfortunately, it’s a buyer beware world with all of these devices,” says Dan Greenberg, an associate director at E Source in Boulder, Colorado. E Source provides independent research to utilities and others in the retail energy marketplace. “It’s so important for consumers to be skeptical,” Greenberg emphasizes. “They really should check with their co-op before making any purchase.”

You’ll find reliable energy saving info in the Kentucky Living 2009 Energy Guide.

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