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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Electric heaters may not live up to money-saving claims

From an article by Kryssy Pease, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, in the Coulee News:

Electric heaters, which have long been a bad deal for most people trying to lower their energy bills, are an even worse deal in Wisconsin this winter because of falling prices for natural gas.

But that doesn’t stop manufacturers of electric heaters from using newspaper and Internet ads — some of which feature home-repair guru Bob Vila and pictures of Amish craftsmen — to attract buyers by promising big savings.

Jack Brennan, 70, of Green Bay, bought two $350 EdenPURE electric heaters after seeing an ad that vowed to “cut your heating bill by up to 50 percent.” When his next bill came from Wisconsin Public Service, it was three times higher than normal.

“I almost died,” Brennan said. “A gal from (Wisconsin) Public Service called me and she said, ‘What are you doing? What did you buy?’ When I told her I bought two of those heaters, she said, ‘Well, you just answered the question.’ “

Steve Kraus, media relations manager at Madison Gas and Electric, said ads promising big savings “are very deceptive,” but spokesmen from two major electric heater companies said they stand by their products.

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