Monday, June 21, 2010
7 News Investigations: Power to Save
It's already hot in South Florida and that means we're cranking up the AC. For some of us, getting the electric bill can leave us burning, but a new device may give you the "Power to Save." 7's Craig Stevens checks it out.
WSVN -- Every time you turn on a light, turn down the AC, fire up the oven or crank up the stereo, it's costing you money.
Oscar Obando: "Especially now with this heat we're having this year it's ridiculous."
Paul Rubenstein: "I would get bills that would be $700 a month, and I would get bills that are $1,200 a month."
Paul Rubenstein says getting those varying bills was frustrating.
Paul Rubenstein: "I would think what caused the disparence there, what caused that big difference?"
So he started looking for a way to save on his power bills, and what he found was the Powersave Home Energy Monitor.
Robin Pearl: "This device will tell you in real time how much energy you're using. How much you've used, and whether you're saving."
Robin Pearl says this home energy monitor will tell you what every electrical appliance in your house is costing you.
Robin Pearl: "Is it worth for me to have this light on? Is it worth for me to have the water heater at a certain level or the air conditioner at a certain level?"
Here's how it works: The device comes with a transmitter that hooks up to the power meter on the outside of your home.
Robin Pearl: "What you do is you take the little clamps and you put one around each cable, so we got one on top and one on the bottom."
Then, you set up this display inside your home. Within seconds, you can find out how much power you are using.
Robin Pearl: "Right now we're using 4.99 kilowatts worth of power, which is costing us $16 a day, or $498 a month."
Then, by turning different appliances on and off you can find out just how much everything is costing you.
Paul was sure his main money-drainer was the AC, but after using the device for two weeks he got quite a surprise.
Paul Rubenstein: "The pool pump was costing as much if not higher than an air conditioning."
Oscar found out it was his backyard fountain sucking up a lot of power.
Oscar Obando: "When you're not outside or there's nobody here, there's no need to be running it."
But your appliances aren't always the problem. Your house itself could be costing you money.
Buck Reilly: "Now, what I am checking for here is to see if the ducts are leaky."
Buck Reilly from Pro-energy Consultants does energy audits of homes. He uses special equipment to test for leaks and other problems.
Buck Reilly: "It allows us to find out what the weaknesses are in every specific home."
Elena and Vanessa spent thousands of dollars replacing their doors and windows, but were still getting high electric bills.
Elena Naranjo: "Unfortunately, the energy bills didn't go down as much as we thought, so we expected there were other issues we need to address."
Buck tested to find if hot air was leaking in or out, the good news, no leaks around the windows but there are some around the recessed lighting.
Buck Reilly: "Recessed lights are frequently a problem."
Next, Buck used this infrared camera to find hot spots in the home.
Buck Reilly: "What I'm seeing now with the infrared camera is all the heat passing thru this uninsulated portion of the ceiling."
The owners learned that by insulating that part of the roof they could cool down the house so their AC won't have to work so hard.
Elena Naranjo: "That's going to be a very small investment and it's going to make a big difference."
All of the home owners discovered ways to cut their bills. By making small changes, Oscar brought his bill down around $75 a month. Paul is saving almost $5,000 a year.
Paul Rubenstein: "PowerSave has brought it down as low as $550 to about $750."
And they are all happy they did some investigating so they had the Power to Save.
Craig Stevens: "The cost of the audit depends on the size of your house, but generally runs around $500. The home energy kit costs $129 and is only available on-line."
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