13 Energy Conservation Myths You Can Start Ignoring Now


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household electricity meter accompanied by a stack of hundred dollar bills
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Some energy-conservation myths just won’t go away, no matter how wacky. These false bits of energy-saving wisdom tend to sound intuitive. For example, it’s reasonable to think a fire in the fireplace is a great way to stay cozy in the winter while cutting down on heating costs. But it could actually make your heating bill shoot up even higher. Here are 13 energy myths to ignore this Earth Day, and all year long.

ceiling fan
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A ceiling fan doesn’t cool the room; it simply circulates air. So even though you might feel a cooling sensation when the breeze hits your skin, the temperature remains the same. Consider saving energy by turning off fans when you leave the room.  

closeup of back of a refrigerator showing the coils
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Some people think that keeping refrigerator coils clean is a good way to make the machine more efficient. But there’s virtually no difference in performance with clean or dirty coils. Still, keeping appliances clean and free of mold is probably a good idea anyway.

roll of duct tape with a long piece extended and stuck to itself in a mess
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Despite its name, duct tape typically isn’t the best option for sealing ducts. Mastic is a stronger and longer-lasting way to seal up a heating system leak.     

graphic of a computer's sleep button
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“Sleep mode” requires your computer to run in a standby mode so it can boot into action at a moment’s notice. Not only does this feature drain energy, but leaving your computer on for long periods can ruin its power supply and other components. Instead, shut down your computer if you plan to stay off it for a while.

woman's hand setting the room temperature on a modern programmable wall heater
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Cranking up your heating system to 80 degrees doesn’t mean it will work faster. Heating and cooling systems operate at constant rates, so it’s best just to set the thermostat to the desired temperature to save energy.   

picture of an old-fashioned radiator below a window in a house
Photo credit: Peter Gudella/shutterstock

Some might argue that it's more energy-efficient to keep your home at a constant temperature, but that's a misconception, according to theU.S. Department of Energy. Setting aprogrammable thermostat  to turn down the heat 7 to 10 degrees at night or when the house is empty can save up to 10 percent a year on energy costs.  

washing kitchen ware on the sink
Photo credit: Nika Art/shutterstock

Washing dishes with hot water requires energy no matter the method. But modern dishwashers have energy-efficient technology that uses as little hot water as possible. So if you have a full load of dishes, the dishwasher is probably the thriftier option.

man examining wall air vent in wall
Photo credit: Serenethos/Shutterstock

Closing vents increases the pressure in the air ducts and actually forces the heating and cooling system to work even harder. This strategy never saves money. Using a programmable thermostat is a better way to save energy.

boiling water in pan on electric stove in the kitchen
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Water will boil more quickly and use less energy from the stove if it’s already hot when you begin heating. But that doesn’t factor in the energy it took to heat the tap water. In the end, you’ll probably end up using about the same amount.     

light switch in the off position
Photo credit: Scott Norris Photography/shutterstock

Although fluorescent lights do use a small surge of energy when switched on, it’s negligible compared with the energy required to constantly power lights. If you want to conserve, turn off lights when you leave the room.  

home chest freezer
Photo credit: ppart/shutterstock

Freezers have to work harder to stay cool as temperatures rise. So while an unheated garage might be a great place for a freezer in the winter, more energy is required to keep it cool during summer. It’s best to put a freezer in a place that’s constantly cool, like a basement.     

many plugs plugged into electric power bar
Photo credit: Elena Elisseeva/shutterstock

Electronics don’t need to be “on” to waste energy. Many devices -- cellphone chargers, computers, microwaves -- draw “standby power” that drains energy while not providing much convenience.    

warming and relaxing feet near fireplace
Photo credit: Valentyn Volkov/shutterstock

The fireplace might be a cozy source of warmth in the winter, but it’s probably not saving any energy. The dampers that allow smoke to escape the house also let in cold air from outside. So even though it feels warm near the fire, the rest of the house might actually be getting colder.    

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