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July 25, 2020 • In Electrical • 11 Min Read

Common Energy-Saving Myths

Haller Enterprises

By Haller Enterprises

We all want to save on monthly energy bills. Powering a household uses a lot of electricity. In our eagerness to conserve electricity, we often listen to bad advice. Many tips and tricks claim to help reduce your power bill but actually cost you more money.To combat all the nonsense energy tips out there, our experts put together this compilation of the most pervasive energy-saving myths. In our debunking of these pesky untruths, we’ll explore the best practices available to help you save on your monthly energy bill.To complement this collection of myths, we’ve also included some tips that seem like myths but actually do provide energy-saving assistance.

How Can You Save on Your Energy Bill?

Before we embark on our myth debunking mission, let’s quickly go over some fool-proof ways to save on your monthly energy bill.
  • 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.
    • Remember, increasing your energy savings is not worth food poisoning! To keep your food out of the “Danger Zone,” keep your fridge between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Your freezer must be set below 32 degrees to keep items frozen, but it is recommended to be set in the range of -20 degrees and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash your clothes with cold water.
  • Switch your heaters and AC off when not needed.
  • Close your doors to trap in heat.
  • Shut your curtains in the summertime to help cool your house.
  • Wear a sweater in the winter to save on heating.
  • Reduce heating to 68 degrees at night to conserve energy.
Our focus will center on energy-saving myths going forward, but keep the preceding tips in mind as you expand your understanding. By grounding your energy-saving habits in solid knowledge, you’ll save considerable money each month on your energy bill. Without further delay, let’s expose some common myths.

Should You Paint Your Radiator Black?

The color black absorbs visible light but radiates infra-red. In a heater, you want something that reflects infra-red heat outward. Therefore, the theory is that painting your radiator black aids the radiator’s ability to transmit 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.On the surface these theories make sense. We’re familiar with how infra-red functions on the color spectrum and that mirrors light, so will these tactics up your radiator’s effectiveness or not?Unfortunately, painting your radiator black qualifies as an energy-saving myth. Although black does absorb heat better, it doesn’t necessarily radiate it better than the original white paint. In fact, adding another layer of paint might prevent the heat from transferring outward. The reasoning behind this approach seems sound, but no actual improvement in heat transference exists.Although black paint offers no advantage, reflective panels do. Depending on the type of panel and its position behind your radiator, it can aid in directing the heat outward.

Keeping Doors Open or Closed

Some confusion exists regarding whether it’s beneficial to open or close the door to your rooms. If you open all your doors, then the collective heat power hypothetically builds on itself making the entire house warmer. In reality, this theory doesn’t hold water. 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 the heater create a convection current cycle. This occurs through the repeated rise of warm air and descent of cold air. The low-lying cold air simply gets sucked back into the heater to get warmed again. Opening your doors disrupts this simple and elegant performance of your heater. So, keep those doors 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. First, let’s address the fact that this theory proves difficult to debunk, partially because it’s true.Whenever you power on any electronic device or appliance, it creates an initial spike in energy consumption. However, this amount of electrical expenditure does not exceed the power exhausted by a perpetually active device.It’s enticingly easy to leave your device on. No one likes to wait while their computer does a full power on. Nor does programming your microwave’s clock each time you unplug it offer a pleasant option.Turning off or unplugging devices and appliances when not in use is an effortless way to save energy. You save a lot more power by avoiding sleep, resting or standby modes, 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. By curtailing the amount of power they use, you reduce their thirst for more electricity.The biggest power drainers on a cell phone are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. These signals constantly search for other devices or routers to pair with. This scanning eats up a huge amount of power. 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 involves 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. Again, locate this option in your settings.

Using Tumble Dryer or Air Drying with Heater

This one’s a no-brainer, your dryer uses way more power than a drying rack. Even with your heating on, a drying rack offers a better alternative to tumble dryers. The natural heat that you rely on to stay warm will dry your clothes in due time.Don’t chuck your dryer to the curbside quite yet. If you’re really stuck for time and need to dry something quickly, turn to the dryer. Most of the time, we can let nature take its course and let our clothes air dry. It doesn’t save time, but it saves electricity, money and reduces your environmental impact.

Leaving Your Heat On or Off in Your House

At first glance, it only seems prudent to turn off your heat if you leave the house for an extended period of time. After all, you don’t want to heat an empty house. However, you need to consider the risk of your pipes freezing.Depending on the temperature, leaving your heat on protects your plumbing. It’s wise to set your heat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t want to deal with the expensive and inconvenient fallout of frozen pipes.We’ve established that it’s advisable to leave your heat on a low setting to stop your pipes from freezing, but 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 low setting while away, you lose more energy than if you simply turn on the heat when you get home.Unfortunately, in this scenario, you do return to a cold house. Waiting for the heat often proves unpleasant. Thermostat timers offer a solution to this dilemma. Setting your system to begin heating your house a half-hour before you’re due home spares you the experience of sitting in a frigid house. If you do not have this control, try setting your heat 5 degrees below your normal comfort temperature. This ensures the house won’t be too cold when you get home and it’ll still save you money in the long run!

Maintaining Temperatures With Electrical Heaters

Don’t use electrical heaters unless you have no other option. These plug-in area heaters rely on an excessive amount of electricity to provide heat, and they are a potential fire hazard. If your house already has a central heating system installed, don’t let it go to waste. All other heating options, including radiators, offer a better, more efficient and less expensive alternative.

Reducing Room Temperatures With Fans

This myth states that letting a fan continue to run in an empty room will reduce that room’s temperature. The logic seems sound. Fans make us feel cool, so they must affect the temperature. Unfortunately, they don’t.Fans merely circulate the air, creating an artificial breeze. When traveling air brushes past our skin, it carries away some heat. This process results in the false perception that the fan has cooled the air. A fan left running in an empty room serves no purpose. Turn off any ceiling fan or rotating fan not in the service of directing air onto a nearby person.

Getting Faster Heat With Higher Thermostat Settings

Many people believe setting your thermostat to a higher setting makes it work faster. Ideally, your system will hurry to heat up to a higher degree, but it likes to take its time with lower temperatures. In reality, it makes no difference if you set your thermostat higher than necessary.It will reach your desired temperature at the exact same rate, regardless of how high you crank it. Therefore, almost no advantage exists to employing this misguided tactic. In fact, by forgetting to reset your thermostat to your actual preferred temperature, you risk needlessly exerting your system, resulting in unwanted energy expenditure. The only caveat to this tactic is if you own a heat pump. If you turn a heat pump up more than two degrees you bring on the Supplemental heat.

Closing Vents Reduces Strain on Your System

For people with central heating, another common myth is that closing vents for unoccupied rooms puts less stress on the system. People equate closing a vent with turning off a light. Unlike flicking a light switch off in an empty room, closing a vent doesn’t reduce your energy use or remotely help your system. Actually, the opposite effect occurs.Central Air and HVAC systems function in a highly-integrated way. If you cut off air to one part, your system works harder to pump air to other locations. This overcompensation results in increased energy output.

Putting Cling Wrap on the Windows

Surprisingly, this home heating solution does trap escaping heat. Encased in the tight contact with your windows, a layer of air exists between the plastic wrap and the glass window surface.This invisible air barrier prevents heat from traveling out through the glass. The idea functions the same as those weather-proofing window kits, except you accomplished the same task with a common household item.This technique, although unsightly, does offer an extra layer of heat protection. For those chilly days, break out the plastic wrap. Don’t let your leftovers have all the fun, and, remember, some energy-saving myths implausibly work.

Examining Your SEER and 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 SEER rating. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio tells you how efficiently your central air unit processes electricity in return for reciprocal output.The higher the SEER rating, the better your unit will process electricity. 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.Older systems have a lower SEER rating than newer ones. Central air and HVAC technology constantly improves, and the SEER rating for new units keeps getting better. If your unit has an especially low rating, replacement represents your best option for reducing 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 the 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 you get the efficiency you invest in when your system is new is to keep the coils factory fresh and clean. A good maintenance program should offer this.

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 help conserve your demands on the environment.Your reduced energy appetite takes stress off your community’s power infrastructure. If everybody took an extra effort to reduce their energy use, it would create less blackouts and grid problems.By adopting smart energy habits, you help yourself, your community and the environment.

Call Haller

Energy-saving myths keep popping up. We’ve debunked the most common ones, but new myths get started all the time. Going forward, stay skeptical about “helpful” energy tips you hear. Feel free to ask us at Haller Enterprises if an energy tip is a myth or legit.We have served central PA and beyond for over 30 years. In that time, we’ve dispelled many energy myths for our customers. Contact us to learn more about our services and other ways to save money on your energy bill.
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