Sonny Mata was looking through patents a couple of years ago when he stumbled onto a green-energy business he could easily get behind.
“I’d been selling solar panels,” he said.
But at that time it would take most homeowners 12 years to realize a return on their investments, which was a hard sell.
“I wanted to find something inexpensive that had a quick payback,” Mata said.
He was checking patents for something unrelated — a hunting arrow equipped with GPS — when he found the ELF PCF unit.
“It’s just a guy and his buddies in Florida who smoke cigars and weld them in his garage,” Mata said.
He called the patent-holder and asked if he could sell the units in Colorado. The patent owner hasn’t been very proactive about selling his product, but agreed to let Mata represent him in Colorado.
The unit plugs into the main electric panel in a home or business, and it acts as a surge protector while reclaiming and recycling unused electricity.
“It fine-tunes the inductive load,” Mata said.
A lot of electronics demand more energy than they actually use. The ELF rations the power to devices and gives them only what they need rather than what they request.
Mata demonstrates the ELF with a 5.6-amp motor. He flips it on and an amp meter shows that it’s using 5.4 amps.
When he turns the ELF on, the amp meter drops to 1.58 amps. “The motor is still spinning at the same speed,” he said. “It’s still working just fine, and the way it sounds hasn’t changed.”
Mata’s company, Green Structure Inc. has been selling the devices for a little more than a year. They range from about $500 installed for residential systems to $1,000 for commercial.
Greg Howard, who owns McCabe’s Tavern downtown, was one of Mata’s first customers.
“He wanted a commercial business to use it, so he could have a test case to show people,” Howard said. “We do everything we can to operate profitably with the environment in mind.”
So, Howard decided to give the ELF a try. He installed four on different panels in his building.
“We see about a 13 to 14 percent savings in energy,” Howard said. “I was really surprised in how high that number was.”
He said the devices work well for McCabe’s because the bar/restaurant’s compressors draw a lot of energy.
“We’re over a year with it and haven’t seen any negative impacts,” Howard said. “Mostly, I’m just shocked at the amount of energy it saves.”