Due to the numerous benefits that it can produce, energy efficiency has become increasingly important to many. These benefits include a decrease in costs, a more comfortable home, and a positive impact on the environment. However, there are many myths going around about saving on energy. It's important to know what's true, and what's not, so that you can be sure your efforts in energy efficiency are producing the right results.
These are common myths about energy savings so that you can be smarter in your efforts to improve the comfort of your home.
Buying an efficient air conditioner or furnace will automatically reduce energy bills.
This is only true to an extent, since savings is dependant upon the equipment being sized and installed correctly. "Studies have shown that typical air conditioner and duct systems are improperly installed, wasting one-third or more of the energy used by the air conditioner. New and replacement equipment (and ducts) need to be properly designed and installed to realize all the possible savings. The same caveats about proper installation hold true for insulation, windows, and many other energy efficiency upgrades."
Duct tape is good for sealing ducts.
As a result of the low durability of duct tape, studies have shown that this is not true. "On new installations, tape often falls off due to poor surface preparation, because ducts tend to be installed in dirty and dusty locations and conditions." On older systems, the tape has even less durability, ages quickly, and wrinkles. Rather than duct tape, experts suggest using mastic to seal ducts."
When an appliance is turned off, it's off.
Research has shown that most devices continue to consume power even when they've been turned off, sometimes just as much power as when they're turned on!" A surprisingly large number of electrical products--from air conditioners to VCRs--cannot be switched completely off without unplugging the device. These products draw power 24 hours a day, often without the knowledge of the consumer. We call this power consumption standby power. One easy remedy for this is to unplug appliances when you are out of the house--easily done if many items are grouped together on one power strip."
Leaving lights, computers, and appliances on uses less energy than turning them off and on, and makes them last longer.
The amount of power it takes to turn off most devices is significantly less than the energy required to run the device when it isn't needed. "While it used to be the case that cycling appliances and lighting on and off significantly reduced their useful lifetimes, these problems have been largely overcome through better design."
Switching to electric room heaters reduces energy bills.
In most cases, this is not true. It is only if the house is heated with central electric heating can individual room heaters help save on energy bills (assuming that you're only using the heater when you're occupying the room). However, if you are using gas heat, this is not the case. "If you have central gas heating (which is typically cheaper per unit of useful heat), you can easily match or even exceed your heating bill by switching to electrical units."
Insulating the ceiling will cause more heat to leak out of the windows.
This is not true, as insulation in one area will not push the heat out else where. "Adding insulation to one part of a home won't increase the "pressure" on heat losses through other parts. However, it is true that poorly insulated areas will be the major losers of heat, and that they often merit attention before improving already well-insulated parts of the home. To best insulate a home, large and small leaks must be addressed."
Fluorescent lighting is unhealthy.
Thanks to innovative technology, fluorescent lighting has improved drastically over the years. As a result, the myths of fluorescent lighting being unhealthy is not based on facts. "Because they require less electricity, fluorescents generate less power plant pollution, which has many known health effects. Fluorescent lights do contain small amounts of mercury and must be disposed of properly. However, additional mercury releases are avoided thanks to reduced use of mercury-containing fossil fuels used to generate electricity. If it's been a while since you tried fluorescent lights, you might give them another chance."