Every day, marketers convince hundreds of people to spend money on useless “energy saving” gadgets. Since these marketers show no signs of going away, it’s time to highlight their products with a ten-worst list.
The order of the products described in the following list is random. I had to remove an eleventh item from this list: “insulating” paints, a product category that I debunked in a recent blog. If you know of a deserving product that should have been included in this list, feel free to post nominations for the list’s second edition.
The Ten Most Useless Energy-Related Products
1. Tyvek ThermaWrap
In 2006, this “low-e” housewrap suffered from a disastrous launch by bumbling DuPont marketers who bragged that the “insulating” properties of the housewrap were due in part to its low emissivity. Reviewing the product for Energy Design Update, I asked ThermaWrap representatives to specify the emissivity of the membrane, only to be told that “due to company policy,” DuPont was “not at liberty to reveal the actual emissivity number for Tyvek ThermaWrap.”
Later, when my journalistic investigations revealed that DuPont had failed to produce a ThermaWrap fact sheet as required by the Federal R-Value Rule, DuPont reluctantly admitted that ThermaWrap has an emissivity of 0.2 — exactly the same value that EDU predicted in its September 2006 review. The emissivity of ThermaWrap is too high to qualify as either a radiant barrier or a reflective insulation.
DuPont no longer repeats its earlier claim that “Tyvek ThermaWrap changes the dynamics of heat flow across the entire wall system and dramatically helps improve the insulating value of the wall system.” In fact, if ThermaWrap is installed facing an air space, it will change the R-value of the air space from R-1 to R-2 — a change that few would characterize as “dramatic.” In…