Fact Or Fiction: Five Common Home Energy Myths

Fact Or Fiction: Five Common Home Energy Myths
Home energy myths

Home energy myths

Trying to find the best green improvements for your home can be a daunting task, and there are a lot of crazy ideas floating around out there that can make it even more difficult to get things right. To help you sort out fact from fiction when it comes to saving energy at home, we’ve put together our list of the five home energy myths that need debunking.

1. Leaving the lights on actually saves energy

The idea that turning lights on and off uses a lot of energy has been around since the 1970s, and for good reason: older types of fluorescent lighting responded poorly to the wear and tear of being turned off frequently and also required a lot of power to get going, so it made sense to keep lights on when you left the room. These days, though, new technology has done away with both of these problems, and the surge of electricity required to turn on a light is miniscule compared to the amount of energy it uses when left on. This myth was resurrected more recently with the advent of computers, which initially took a great deal of time and energy to boot up. Obviously, today’s computers are much more efficient, and again, the amount of energy used at start-up is small compared what it uses when left on, even in a low-power state.

The bottom line: Switching off the lights is always the green choice.

2. Adjusting your thermostat won’t save you money

This myth comes from the same line of thinking that suggests you should leave your lights on: the idea is that if you turn your heat down at night, the energy cost of reheating your home in the morning will cancel out the electricity you saved overnight. But, as with fluorescent lighting, that initial burst of energy is very small compared with the energy it take to run a furnace (or air conditioner) overnight. In fact, if you dial back on your home heating and cooling for eight hours every night you can shave 10-15% off your home energy bill.

The bottom line: Always be conservative with your thermostat to to save energy.

3. Appliances don’t use energy when they’re turned off

You might think that all you need to do to conserve energy is to switch off your appliances, but in fact a lot of common home devices will continue to suck up energy even when they’re turned off. Features like LED lighting, clocks, wireless sensors, and AC/DC adapters continue to operate even when you’re not using your TV, computer, or cell phone charger, so unplug when you’re done or invest in a power strip that will automatically cut off electricity to devices not in use.

The bottom line: Unplug appliances you aren’t using to prevent wasted energy.

4. Houses need to breathe

Air pollution is a serious health concern, and indoor air pollution can be especially hard to control – the EPA estimates that concentrations of pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be up to 10 times higher indoors than out. Some people are afraid that sealing up their home too tightly will create high concentrations of pollutants, but while it might seem like a good idea to let your home breath, when you’re relying on heating or air conditioning a leaky home can lead to a lot of wasted energy. If you’re worried about indoor contaminants, try instead to work on preventing indoor pollution by keeping it out in the first place. Ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens can help reduce humidity and freshen rooms without costing a lot, while switching to green cleaners and building materials will lower VOC levels. You’ll be keeping your heating and air conditioning effective while making your home clean and safe.

The bottom line: When using your air conditioner or furnace, always make sure that your home is draft-free and well-insulated.

5. High-efficiency features are unaffordable

It might seem like too much of an investment to improve your home’s energy efficiency, but in fact there are lots of cheap, easy things you can do to bring down your utility bills. The quickest fix is just to change up your habits: dialing back your thermostat and water heater, doing your laundry in cold water, and unplugging appliances you aren’t using are small changes to your daily routine that can add up to big savings. Also look for small investments that offer a big return, like window sealants, programmable thermostats, and ceiling fans. And if you are looking to make large changes to your home, keep in mind that many energy-efficient upgrades will pay for themselves in savings. Features like solar water heaters, Energy Star appliances, and updated insulation might have a high up-front cost, but will pay you back by decreasing your utility bills and adding value to your home (and can often be offset with subsidies).

The bottom line: There are lots of small changes that will make your home more energy-efficient, and the cost of more expensive upgrades can often by offset by subsidies and utility savings.

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