Green Living: Top 5 Energy Myths

Categories: Green Tips

Want to save energy? Do your part for the environment and shrink your bills? Great! But where to start? There are so many tips on how to save energy, but a lot of them are completely wrong – they actually waste energy.

To help clear things up, let’s crack five energy myths you may have heard (or believe).

Lights: On or Off?
Myth 1: Whenever you turn a fluorescent light on or off, it uses a lot of energy – so leave them on.

There’s a tiny bit of truth behind this idea. When you turn on a light, there is a small surge of energy, but that surge only lasts for .8% of a second. That’s less than 1% of 1 second! The amount of energy you use by leaving the lights on is so much higher.

You’ll always save more energy by turning the lights off when you leave a room.

Thermostat: Leave It High?
Myth 2: Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature all the time will save you energy.

I think this myth is a result of how we think about heaters. When we hear it roaring as it warms up a house, we think “It must be working really hard.” When we hear a heater occasionally turn on to keep a house warm, we barely notice. We feel like the heater is using less energy.

But the truth is that in order to maintain a steady temperature and compensate for heat loss, a heater has to turn on many times throughout the day. When you add up all of these little “sessions”, it comes out to quite a bit of energy.

In fact, it uses so much energy that if you’re ever going to be out of the house for more than 6 hours, you should turn the temperature down by 10 degrees or more. This will save energy and decrease your heating bills.

Appliances: Is It Off?

Myth 3: “I always turn everything off – it saves power.”

It does and that’s great if you do it! You should always turn things off when not in use.

What you might not realize is that some devices, even if they’re “off,” use power whenever they’re plugged in. This is called “Vampire” or “Standby” power. TVs, toasters, DVD players, computers – these devices will draw electricity even when they’re off.

The best way to deal with this is to unplug devices from the wall when they’re not in use.

Screen Savers: Do They Help?
Myth 4: “Make sure to use a screen saver. It’ll save you energy.”

Screen savers don’t save energy – that was never their purpose. They were created to stop a problem called “Burn In” or “Screen Burn” that plagued old monitors. Screen Burn isn’t really a problem anymore, but Screen Savers have stuck around and been eating up energy for decades.

What you should do is set your computer to go into Sleep mode when it’s been idle for more than a few minutes. If you’re not going to be using your computer for a few hours, it’s best to just turn it off.

Blinds: Keep Them Closed?
Myth 5: “You’ve got to improve your home’s insulation during winter, and keeping your blinds closed is a great way to do that.”

Partially true. You should keep your blinds closed at night to minimize heat loss from your windows. During the day, you should open the blinds on windows that face the sun. This will give you a nice boost of heat and will make your home feel less bogged down by winter.

Thanks to the University of Oregon, 1E, and Forbes.com for the information.