Move on From Energy-Saving Myths
As homeowners, we know how important it is to save on monthly energy bills. Yet, we want to make sure we’re doing so the right way. When you research how to save on your energy bills, you may come across illegitimate sources with lists of tips and tricks that claim to lower your power bill, but may actually cost you more.
In our eagerness to conserve electricity, our Haller experts are here to debunk the most common energy-saving myths out there. Additionally, we’ll explore best practices and tips to help you save on your monthly energy bill.
How Can You Save on Your Energy Bill in PA?
Before we debunk and expose the most common energy-saving myths, let’s go over some fool-proof ways to save on your monthly energy bill in PA:
- Turn off lamps, stereos and other electronics when not in use.
- Use energy-saving light bulbs like Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs.
- When you can, use your microwave rather than the stove — it uses less electricity.
- Thaw food in the fridge instead of the microwave.
- Set your fridge to (at most) 40 degrees and freezer to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash your clothes with cold water.
- Switch your heaters and AC off when not needed.
- Close your doors to preserve heat.
- Shut your curtains in the summertime to help cool your house.
- Reduce heating to 68 degrees at night to conserve energy.
Now that you’re familiar with some ways to save energy in your home, it’s time to expose common misinformation around increasing energy efficiency.
Should You Paint Your Radiator Black?
The color black absorbs visible light and radiates infra-red light which may be something you want in a heater. This is why the theory of painting your radiator black may seem feasible in transmitting heat outward. An extension of this rationale involves reflective panels. By placing such infra-red reflectors behind a radiator, you assist the heat’s propulsion outward.
Unfortunately, painting your radiator black qualifies as an energy-saving myth. Although black does absorb heat better, it won’t necessarily radiate heat better than the original white paint. In fact, adding another layer of paint may prevent the heat from transferring outward. However, adding reflective panels, depending on the type and their position behind your radiator, can help direct heat outward.
Keeping Doors Open or Closed
If you open all the doors in your home, you may suspect the collective heat power would build on itself to make your entire house warmer. However, this theory doesn’t ring true. It’s much better to close each door and heat your rooms individually. This approach enables the heater in your rooms to function properly.
Ideally, you want to help your heater create a convection current cycle through the repeated rise of warm air and descent of cold air. The cold air simply gets sucked back into the heater to get warmed again. Opening your doors disrupts this simple performance of your heater – so keep them shut!
Leaving Devices On
One theory states that when devices like your computer, TV or cell phone power up, they consume more energy than if you leave them on standby or in sleep mode. While this theory is partially true since there’s an initial spike in energy consumption whenever you power on an electronic device or appliance, this amount of electrical expenditure does not exceed the power exhausted by a perpetually active device.
It’s tempting to leave your devices and appliances on since it can take time for them power on or reset. However, turning them off when they’re not in use is an effortless way to save energy. You’ll save a lot more power by avoiding the sleep, rest, or standby modes on your devices, despite what the myth proclaims.
Monitoring Cell Phone Habits
Do you find yourself constantly recharging your cell phone? Although smartphones use a lot of energy, there are several tricks available to limit their energy consumption.
Bluetooth and Wi-FI are the main power drainers on your cell phone. These signals eat up loads of energy when they search for other devices or routers to pair with. Simply look at the top of your smart phone’s screen to see whether either representative icon appears. If you see the symbol for each, go to your settings and disable their function. Another way to prolong your battery life is by turning down your screen brightness. You’ll often find this under the display or screen sub-option in settings. In addition, most smartphones offer power saving features, also located in your device settings.
Tumble Drying vs. Air Drying with a Heater
Your dryer uses way more power than a drying rack. The natural heat you rely on to stay warm will dry your clothes in due time. Unless you’re in a laundry emergency where you need your clothes to dry quickly, you can always save electricity and money by air drying your items. Even turning on your heater on to help air dry your clothes is a better alternative than using a tumble dryer.
Leaving Your Heat On or Off
At first glance, it may seem smart to turn off your heat when you leave the house for an extended period of time. However, your heating system not only keeps your home warm and cozy, but it also protects your plumbing during the colder months of the year. It’s best to set your heat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent an expensive and inconvenient fallout of frozen pipes.
Now that we’ve established it’s advisable to leave your heat on a low setting to stop your pipes from freezing, does leaving your heat on have other benefits?
Leaving Your House: Short Term
For short departures, such as going to work, is leaving your heat on a low setting better than heating your house from scratch upon your return home? The answer is no.
Although your heater needs more time to heat a cold house, it doesn’t pay to continuously heat an empty house. If you leave your heat on a low setting while you’re gone, you lose more energy than if you simply turn on the heat when you return.
Unfortunately, in this scenario, you do return to a cold house. However, you can set a heating timer on your thermostat to turn your system on a half hour before you come back. If you don’t have this control on your thermostat, try setting your heat five degrees below your normal comfort temperature to ensure your house won’t be too cold when you get home.
Using Electrical Heaters
Electrical heaters use an excessive amount of electricity to provide heat, and they’re a potential fire hazard–so avoid using them unless you have no other option. If your home already has a central heating system, be sure to use it. All other heating options, including radiators, offer a better, more efficient and less expensive alternative.
Reducing Room Temperatures With Fans
While it may feel like a fast-spinning fan cools the rooms in your home, fans merely circulate air, creating an artificial breeze. When traveling air brushes past your skin, it carries away some heat, but don’t let this process give you the false perception that fans are capable of cooling your air. Since running a fan in an empty room serves no purpose, make sure to turn off any fans in areas or rooms you’re not using.
Getting Faster Heat With Higher Thermostat Settings
It’s easy to think setting your thermostat to a higher setting makes it work faster. And while your system will hurry to heat up to a higher degree, it likes to take its time with lower temperatures. Therefore, it makes no difference to set your thermostat higher than necessary, since it will reach your desired temperature at the same rate.
Closing Vents Reduces Strain on Your System
If your home has central heating, another common myth is that closing the vents in unoccupied rooms reduces stress on the system. Closing a vent is not the same as switching off a light. In fact, if you cut off air to one part of your home, your HVAC system has to exert more energy to pump air to other locations.
Putting Cling Wrap on Your Windows
Surprisingly, this home heating solution does trap escaping heat, and as a result, can save money on your monthly energy bill. Cling wrap encases a tight layer of warm air between the plastic and the glass window surface and essentially functions the same as weather-proofing window kits.
If you have leftover cling wrap sitting in a drawer, make sure to bring it out for those chillier days of fall and winter.
Examining Your SEER & HSPF Rating
This tip doesn’t qualify as a myth, but it bears mentioning. The best way to ensure your heater isn’t wasting any electricity involves assessing its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ration (SEER) rating. The SEER rating tells you how efficiently your central air unit processes electricity in return for reciprocal output. The seasonal aspect relates to how your system will handle an entire season. Energy Star represents a common SEER rating marking. To locate your system’s SEER, simply look behind the outdoor unit and find either the Energy Star sticker or the SEER rating by itself.
The higher the SEER rating, the better your unit will process electricity. Older systems have a lower SEER rating than newer ones. As central air and HVAC technology constantly improves, the SEER rating for newer units will follow suit. So if your unit has an especially low rating, you may want to consider replacing your heater to reduce your monthly energy bills.
While SEER relates to central air and HVAC systems, the HSPF rating concerns heat pumps. As heat pumps work differently, they employ a separate rating system. The Heal Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) index measures your heat pump’s efficiency. Like SEER ratings, a higher HSPF number signifies a better use of energy. Check your heat pumps HSPF rating to determine the efficiency of its energy use and for AFUE fuel ratings on your furnace. The best way to ensure your system is operating at top-efficiency is to keep the coils fresh and clean. Haller’s maintenance programs are here for you and your heater.
Reduce Your Environmental Impact
Curtailing your energy consumption helps reduce your personal impact on the environment. Not only will these energy tips save you money, but they’ll help conserve your demands on the environment and reduce the stress on your community’s power infrastructure to prevent blackouts and grid problems.
Call Haller in Central & Eastern PA
Energy-saving myths keep popping up. We’ve debunked the most common ones, but we encourage you to double-check the tips and tricks you hear going forward. Contact us at Haller Enterprises for more advice and guidance on saving money on your monthly energy bills.