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Ask the Inspector

Green Plug Can Mean Extra Cash

Why do they call it a Green Plug when it's white; and does it really work?

A Green Plug is simply a voltage reducer whose name comes from the company that produces it -- Green Technologies, Boulder, Colo. Whether or not it can work for you is a bit more difficult to answer.

Used in the proper applications, the Green Plug can work fine and save you a little money. If used improperly, however, it can end up costing you a bundle.

These plugs are used on single-phase electrical motors found in major household appliances. Because of the number of uses and varying loads placed upon these appliances, along with the varyious electrical variations that occur, these motors are built to a standard that allows a 10 percent variable operational factor to occur and still allow the appliance to operate in a safe manner.

What does that mean?

The motor on your refrigerator, for example, is designed to run on 10 percent less, or 10 percent more voltage than the standard 120 volts that is supposed to be coming into your house from SDG&E.

There is a specific Green Plug for each specific appliance. Using one designed for a dishwasher on a refrigerator will cause the unit, in a worse case scenario, to burn up and destroy itself.

In theory, it may be possible to save five to 10 percent of the costs of running a refrigerator -- about one to five dollars each year. And when placed on a dishwasher, which is used less often, about one to three dollars can be saved every year.

The most important point to remember when buying a Green Plug is that electrical motors produced in the last five years or so have been redesigned and now incorporate the same features as the plugs. Using these devices on an appliance more than five years old may save some money, but putting them on a newer model may not do anything for you or may cost more to operate. The older the appliance, the better the Green Plug will serve you.