6 Energy Efficiency Myths

February 15, 2013

There are a lot of untruths that circulate about how to save energy; in today’s world of ever-increasing energy costs, it’s best to know the facts.  Things that were true 30 years ago are probably not true now, and modern technology has created its own set of urban myths.  Read on to learn what’s really going to reduce your utility bill.

If it’s off, it’s off. 

FACT: Many appliances use energy after you turn them off; they’re known as “energy vampires.”  Look around; do you see that little light that’s glowing even after you’ve turned off your television, DVD player, computer monitor, etc.? All those little lights are using energy. Some appliances, such as your television, may even use energy when there’s no light glowing; they need to be in standby mode to accept instruction from your remote control. They’re using electricity every second of the day and night.  The best thing you can do is to keep these appliances on a power strip and turn them all off when you’re done using them, then turn them on again when you need to. For a list of all the energy vampires you may be powering and how much energy they’re using, visit http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html.

If you don’t use a room, close it off to save energy. 

FACT: This may have been true when we were using fireplaces for heat or low-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners 30 years ago, but with today’s technology, it’s simply not the case. Closing registers in unused rooms does not have the intended effect; in fact, it may even force your system to work harder because of the uneven temperatures in your home. While closing off one room that is far away from your air handler won’t have much of an effect, closing off more than half of your home or the rooms that are close to the air handler can create pressure and air leakage issues.

Duct tape is for ducts. 

FACT: Duct tape was developed for the U.S. military to make emergency repairs on the battlefield during WWII. After the war, heating and cooling contractors began using it to seal joints in ducts (after changing the color from military green to silver). Thus, it became known as “duct tape.” However, it’s not a good joint sealant and has an extremely short lifespan under the harsh conditions often found where ducts are installed.  Never use duct tape on ducts. Instead, use mastic, which is a putty-like sealant. To keep it easy, if you’ve got leaking ducts, call a contractor for repairs.

Ceiling fans keep my home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, so I should leave them on all the time. 

FACT: They only make your home feel more comfortable when they move air across your skin.  They have nothing to do with the air’s temperature. So, turn them on only when you’re in the same room as they are.

It’s too hot/cold in here…crank the thermostat!

FACT: Just like pushing an elevator button several times doesn’t make it come any faster, changing the temperature dramatically doesn’t make your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace work any faster.  It works at a set pace.

There’s nothing I can do to make a difference.

FACT: Little things can make hundreds of dollars of difference in your utility bill.

  • Changing incandescent light bulbs for CFLs, or better yet LEDs, can help save electricity every month and pay for themselves quickly. 

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room for more than ten minutes.

  • Turn off your computer, or at the very least, put it to sleep; if it goes into timeout mode, it still uses plenty of power. 

  • Wash clothes in cold water unless they’re quite dirty.


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Last Updated: May 24, 2024