- Just Another Power Saver Scam?

I received this question from a reader in Newcastle about a new website called

"Thank you for showing up the scammers, and wondering whether you are able to confirm whether a Power Conditioner being sold by Save My Power P/L in Newcastle is also a scam. 

Their Power Conditioner (for which they want to charge around $1,500) is apparently connected to the mains on the supply side of the meter, and supposedly cleans up the incoming power, and results in billing reductions of up to 25% (with the guarantee stating that the device will reduce the quarterly household consumption by a minimum of 15% when compared to the same period before the conditioner was installed, and if the device fails to meet this guarantee, the unit will be replaced at no cost to the customer). 

The rep actually said in her blurb to me that if the device failed to meet the 15% minimum, I would get my money back, and as this was not stated under the written guarantee, I stated that before I would consider buying the unit, I would need to receive this in writing, which was apparently agreed to by Save My Power, following the reps call to them.

Like the unit you mentioned had been covered on Today Tonight, some time ago this unit was also covered on Today Tonight, with no negative comment by the show. As most power conditioners use Capacitors to correct inductive loads and bring the power factor back up towards unity, I asked whether the unit was passive with Capacitors, or whether it was an active unit. The question was referred back to a so called guru at Save My Power, with the answer being that it had Caps in it but was also active (I guess active could just relate to the lights that apparently come on when the unit is working).

My understanding is that the supplier metering of residential properties only charges for KWhrs used, and that correcting power factor, especially on the supplier side of the meter, would not result in a reduction of electricity charges. On that basis, if no power saving results, I assume that they would come up with some way of having to avoid refunding the money. Are you aware of this unit, and what are your thoughts."

Thanks for providing a detailed outline of your experience with Save My Power Pty Ltd.

Save My Power is in fact a direct copy of the Earthwise Power Saver outlined previously. All they have done is change their website.

So my earlier comments still stand.

What about their testimonials?

One cannot deny that some of their testimonials may in fact be honest feedback from users.

These users are, however, far more likely to be suffering from the placebo effect or simple seasonal variations in their electricity bills, than reductions actually caused by the 'Power Conditioning' box.

The placebo effect is most commonly understood in the context of medication and medical trials, but surely it can be present with products as well. For example:

  1. You're already well aware and conscious of your energy usage because you keep getting unexplained high electricity bills.
  2. A sales rep from Save My Power turns up on your doorstep pedalling just the thing you need - but it costs $1,500.
  3. Despite your initial scepticism, you make a large financial and emotional investment in this product.
  4. You subconsciously make it work by reducing your energy usage over coming months with simple (even sub-conscious) behaviour changes.
  5. Presto! the Save My Power box "works" just as advertised.

Falling electricity usage is now the norm across Australia. We have seen usage drop substantially in NSW as well as Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia. In other words: people's energy consumption is already dropping, which is easy to capitalise on if you have a dubious product.

From a research perspective the placebo effect of so called "electricity saving devices" would be quite fascinating. Any Universities out there interested?

- Ryan McCarthy

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