Customers deserve the straight truth about electricity costs.
Recently I attended a birthday party at a neighbor’s house. As the birthday girl cut the cake, her father showed me his latest acquisition—a handsome electric space heater for which he’d paid $400.
My neighbor is notoriously stingy. But he proudly explained that his investment was a wise one for a variety of reasons—most notably because this heater performed with an efficiency of 200 percent.
I tried to tell my friend—who is a mechanic by trade and an intelligent person by any standard measure—that the first law of thermodynamics prevents efficiencies greater than 100 percent. Moreover, I told him that all electric heaters are exactly 100 percent efficient, no more and no less. The only energy wasted is what escapes the house—for example, through the large picture windows or stone fireplace chimney.
Slightly chastened, my friend acknowledged the heater might not be quite 200 percent efficient, as the salesman had claimed. But he insisted this heater’s patented design was fundamentally more efficient than others on the market, featuring a radiant element that heats a copper plate. Furthermore, he said energy companies had tried to keep this “new invention” off the market, to protect their own sales of fuel and electricity.
At this point I gave up trying to convince my friend. I didn’t want to spoil a fine party with an argument.