The Hustle

'Staten Island Hustle' stars want to save you 15% on your electric bills with this 'energy box'

This device could save you 15 percent off your electric bill

On the latest episode of CNBC's "Staten Island Hustle," you see star Dom Detore call up four of his close friends and ask them to come over to his house in Staten Island, New York. He needs help with a project: turning on every light, every appliance and all seven air-conditioning units in his house.

"I want to turn everything on in my house at once, and create a huge electricity spike," Detore says on the episode airing April 18.

He and his friends and co-stars — Mike Palmer, Ron Montana, Tony DeCicco and Adolfo LaCola — all businessmen and serial entrepreneurs, are shown running up Detore's electric bill to test a new money-making scheme they'd come up with: the Energy Box, a piece of hardware that aims to lower homeowners' electricity costs.

A prototype of the Energy Box installed in Dom Detore's home.
CNBC | Staten Island Hustle

The show follows the guys as they roam the massive house looking for things to turn on. "There's 400 rooms in this house," says Montana.

Then you see DeCicco punch the air-conditioning down to 50 degrees and proudly proclaim, "Alright, we can chill beer in here."


The plan hilariously misfires: Something shorts, and all the lights go dark. "Listen to me, scumbags, I need the electric fixed," Detore's displeased wife, Janine, says on the show. But Detore asserts that the product itself works.

"My bill dropped 14 percent this month," Detore claims, filling in his buddies over a meal at Angelina's Ristorante on "Staten Island Hustle" after getting his electric bill. "A $1,600 bill is now $1,360."

Behind the product is Tom Spinelli, the CEO of MHT Lighting in Port Richmond, Staten Island. He's an expert in lighting systems and cost-efficient energy tech.

"Tom and I have been working together for years on commercial construction projects," Detore, who is a general contractor, says on the show. "I build them, and he lights 'em up."

Tom Spinelli, Mike Palmer, Dom Detore and Adolfo LaCola install a prototype of the Energy Box.
CNBC | Staten Island Hustle

Spinelli shows the guys the SP2000, a machine he built to reduce electric bills for large companies by optimizing and balancing energy usage.

Most utility companies "create a 30-minute period, and whatever the maximum usage you use for that period — that's your multiplier for the 30-day billing cycle," Spinelli explains on the show. The SP2000 unit "helps companies and factories turn on their machinery without causing a spike, which [then] brings down the rate that they pay for their electricity overall," LaCola adds.

But Montana has a question: "My electric bill is out of the roof right now, I can put one of these in my house?" he asks.

The idea of developing a product to install in houses has the guys seeing dollar signs.

"Tom built this device with big companies in mind that use a lot of machinery, but where we can get involved is by bringing it to the home consumer," Detore says on "Staten Island Hustle."

The Detore home test-run convinced the friends of the Energy Box's potential. Now Detore tells CNBC Make It the team is working to have the product available by September of this year, with plans to sell it online.

Detore estimates the machine will retail for $4,500 to $6,000, and claims it could save users 10 to 15 percent each month on their bills.

Since the average electricity bill in the U.S. is $112.59 month, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the guys are marketing to owners of larger homes, which have more lights, AC units, water heaters and appliances.

Detore, for example, says on the show he saved $240 on his electric bill during the test month. If true, with a similar savings every month, the box would pay for itself in about two years. After that, he can keep every dollar saved, he says.

The strategy, Detore tells CNBC Make It, is to focus on selling the Energy Box to homeowners with homes that are over 4,000 square feet, a size that more than 2.8 million homes in the U.S. meet or exceed, according to data from Zillow.

"That's where this application works best, that's its sweet spot," Detore says.

Watch all new episodes of "Staten Island Hustle," Wednesdays at 10P ET/PT on CNBC.

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