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Home Energy Saving Myths

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

 

Myths About Saving Energy… Are You Saving Energy the Right Way?

You may be doing things around your house that you think will save you money,  but the reality is that you may not be.  Consumer’s Energy, a utility company in Michigan, has compiled a list of 10 energy saving myths:

  1. Leaving lights and electronic devices on uses less energy than turning them on and off.
    In most cases, the small surge of power needed to start a device is much less than the power that is wasted by leaving it on when it is not needed.
     
  2. Setting the thermostat higher or lower will heat or cool your home faster.
    Homeowners often set the thermostat higher or lower than necessary, thinking it will warm or cool their home faster, but furnaces and air-conditioners work at the same speed, no matter what the thermostat setting. A home will warm up to 70ºF just as quickly if the thermostat is set at 70ºF as it will if it is set at 80ºF. In fact, more energy may be wasted as the heating or cooling system continues to run to reach the higher set point. 
     
  3. A heating and cooling system works harder to reach a comfortable temperature after setback or set forward.
    The common misconception is that if you adjust your thermostat, the heating or cooling system must work harder or use more energy to re-heat or re-cool the house, but this is not how thermostats work. The system turns on to reach a set level and shuts off when that level is reached.
     
  4. Energy efficiency and energy conservation are the same thing.
    Efficiency refers to using less energy to perform a specific task. For example, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can light your home using less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs.
    Conservation involves reducing your need for energy through behavior changes, such as setting your thermostat lower.
     
  5. When an appliance is turned off, it is off.
    Many appliances and home electronic devices continue to use power after they have been turned off—sometimes as much as if they were on. This is known as standby power or phantom load. The only way to stop the drain of power from these devices is to unplug them.
     
  6. CFLs are more harmful for the environment than traditional bulbs because they contain mercury.
    CFLs do contain a trace amount of mercury that can be emitted into the atmosphere if the bulb is broken. However, mercury is also emitted into the atmosphere through electricity generation. Using CFLs will help to reduce mercury emissions because they are more efficient and use less electricity. Recycling CFLs can further reduce emissions. To recycle CFL bulbs go to Earth911. Make sure to type in Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs and then your city to view the list. (Typing in CFL won’t work)
     
  7. Duct tape is a good choice for sealing ducts.
    Duct tape has very low durability when used to seal ducts. Over time, it will fall off as the adhesive dries out and the tape starts to wrinkle. Mastic or metal-backed tapes—available at your local hardware or do-it-yourself retailer—are better choices for duct sealing.
     
  8. Purchasing an efficient air-conditioner or furnace will automatically reduce energy bills.
    This is true to some extent, but the system must be sized correctly to achieve optimal energy savings. Installing an efficient, but over-sized, system may negate much of the potential savings, while a poorly designed duct system will also affect efficiency and comfort. Air sealing, insulation, and windows also affect heating and cooling efficiency. (You could be losing up to 40% of your cooled or heated air if you have inadequate insulation or if you have air leaks. An Energy Evaluation will let you know how you can create a more energy efficient home)
     
  9. Dimming lights by 50% will cut lighting costs in half.
    Dimmed lights do use less power, but the relationship between light loss and energy savings is not quite direct. Dimmer switches actually use a small amount of power, thereby reducing the overall savings. Dimming lights by 50% may only result in energy savings of 40%, and the amount of savings may vary depending on the type of light in use.
     
  10. Closing off vents will help to lower heating and cooling costs.
    Closing or covering up vents is typically not a good way to save on energy costs. Heating and cooling systems balance their load throughout the duct system. If one vent gets closed off, it throws the system off balance. Pressure can build up in the ductwork, causing leakage and reducing the amount of air circulating in your home.
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