Many of us are trying to save energy, whether for financial or environmental reasons, or both.
Yet there are many myths about saving energy around the home that simply don’t work. Here are 15 changes that won’t actually lower your utilities and keep more money in your wallet.
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Making the HVAC work faster saves energy
Some people try to save energy by turning their thermostat way up or down to reach their desired temperature as quickly as possible. Then, they turn off the unit to let it “coast” for a while.
But this doesn’t work and can burn out your system faster than letting the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system do its thing more reasonably.
Using space heaters saves energy
People will often try to save energy by keeping a home’s main heat source down and plugging in space heaters. They assume that electric space heaters must save more energy than actually using heat throughout the entire house.
But that’s not the case. Instead, those little space heaters suck up a lot of energy, pushing your bill higher.
Ceiling fans significantly lower the temperature
Similar to space heaters, some people may believe that using a ceiling fan is a more efficient way to cool a home than using the AC.
While a ceiling fan may feel nice, it doesn’t actually cool the air. In fact, it can actually radiate heat from its motor.
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Electricity costs less than other energy
This is the myth that perpetuates the space heater and ceiling fan myths since electricity is generally more expensive than natural gas or propane.
If you're looking to cut your utility bill, you’re better off using heating systems powered by the latter resources rather than relying on electricity.
New windows pay for themselves in energy efficiency
New windows certainly can save energy. But they also can be very expensive to purchase and install. In fact, they're so expensive that it’s difficult to recoup the cost in energy savings.
Turning off the AC when you’re not home saves energy
If you let your house heat up during the day, your AC unit will actually work harder when you return home.
This is a situation where compromise works better. Instead of completely turning off the HVAC unit when you leave, leave it on at a higher setting.
Switching a light on and off uses more energy than leaving it on
Turning a light on does cause an initial increase in energy usage. However, that increase is not enough to justify keeping the light on indefinitely.
The surge lasts less than a second, so you'll probably waste more energy leaving the lights on for long periods when you don’t need the illumination.
Appliances cost less to run at night
All things being equal, running devices such as the dishwasher at night will not save you money.
Some utility companies reward customers for using appliances during off-peak hours. Those folks can indeed save money by running appliances at night.
But the rest of us pay a standard rate for energy usage no matter what time of day it is.
Only your HVAC matters when reducing energy usage
Some people focus solely on their HVAC system when trying to reduce energy usage.
Yes, the HVAC uses a lot of energy. But don’t discount the amount of energy that other items — including appliances, computers, and televisions — use daily.
Turning appliances off stops energy usage
Even when an appliance is turned off, it can still draw some energy. It may look like it’s sleeping, but it's still adding to your bill. If you want to stop the energy flow completely, you need to unplug the device.
Closing vents in unused rooms saves energy
You can close the vents in unused rooms, but your attempts to save energy this way could backfire.
When you close vents in one room to redirect hot or cold air to another room, it can create buildup in HVAC ducts, which in turn can cause leaks.
Washing dishes by hand uses less energy than a dishwasher
Today’s energy-efficient dishwashers use less water and electricity. Washing dishes by hand actually uses more water.
If you’re using hot water, that means using more energy from the water heater. Filling up the dishwasher and pressing a button is actually the energy-efficient way to go.
CFL bulbs are the most energy-efficient choice
While compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are slightly less expensive than light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, that doesn’t make the former the better energy-efficient option.
While CFLs are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs are still the gold standard as the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market.
Heavy drapery will keep the cold air out
It sounds like it could make sense, right? Heavy drapery should act as insulation to keep drafts and cold air out on frigid days.
But not so fast: Opening up that drapery will let sunlight in, which will heat your home. Focus instead on keeping the windows locked to create a tight seal that keeps out cold air.
A screensaver will use less energy
A screensaver full of movement and graphics can actually use more energy than letting your computer drift off into sleep mode.
Instead, change your settings to let your computer go to sleep faster and use less energy.
Energy-saving myths run rampant, and many of them are well-intentioned. They may even sound like they make sense.
But these myths don’t really work in an era of more energy-efficient appliances, HVAC systems, and homes.
If you want to get ahead financially and help the environment, you will have to look at other ideas for cutting your energy usage.