This article was originally published in the July/August 1998 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online July/August 1998
Efficiency Sells for ESP
by Steven Bodzin
Sometimes, energy service providers (ESPs) don't need the state to subsidize their energy efficiency services. Commonwealth Electric is a new private ESP in Cathedral City, California, which is in the desert near Palm Springs. Its promise of low energy rates (no matter where the energy is coming from) has attracted 15,000 customers--25% of the consumers who have changed ESPs since California opened the market on March 31. Now Commonwealth is entering the energy efficiency market with its A/C Aider.
This device is a mister that sprays water onto the outdoor coils of air conditioners in the desert. Lab reports provided by the manufacturer show that, by lowering the effective coil temperature from dry-bulb to wet-bulb, the A/C Aider increases air conditioner efficiency as much as 40% under ideal conditions. Previous devices of this type caused calcite scale to build up on the fins. Energy Innovation Corporation (EIC), which developed the A/C Aider, claims to have solved this problem by incorporating a patented magnetic system. The magnets supposedly cause the ions in the water to crystallize as aragonite rather than calcite. The two minerals have the same chemical formula but different crystal structures. EIC claims aragonite wipes off with a rag, while calcite requires an acid bath.
What is most novel about Commonwealth selling the A/C Aider is that it's the first time since deregulation that a new ESP has offered an energy efficiency device. At this time, they are selling it to the public, not only to their electricity customers.
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