13 Energy Conservation Myths You Can Start Ignoring Now
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Some might argue that it's more energy-efficient to keep your home at a constant temperature, but that's a misconception, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Setting a programmable 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.