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Energy Saving Myths

With the price of energy on the rise, chances are you’re doing whatever you can to reduce how much of it you use. I wrote in the past about switching from flourescent to compact flourescent bulbs [3] and shelled out $5 for an Energy Saver kit from BG&E [4], but there are some energy saving moves that don’t really help.

Myth 1: Using the oven is better than the microwave. Using a microwave is better than an oven for many reasons, the first being heat generation. Not only does the microwave use less energy, it generates less heat so your AC won’t have to work as hard during the summer.

Myth 2: Appliances turned off don’t use electricity. This has gotten a lot of play recently in media because these “vampire devices” draw energy even if they’re turned off. The rule is that unless there is a hard switch, like a light switch, it will draw power. Think about how electricity works and it makes sense. Electricity flows through a connected circuit and for all those things that you can turn out with the press of a button, that circuit is always connected and always drawing a little itty bit of power that will add up over a year. I always unplug something if I don’t intend to use it often (i.e. appliances in a room I don’t use much) or if it’s really easy for me to do so (i.e. the paper shredder). It’s only cents but it’s little effort too.

Myth 3: Small Thermostat Changes Don’t Matter. Luckily the house I own has a programmable thermostat and so it’s turned off when no one is home. I don’t buy the whole idea that keeping a house cool is cheaper than letting it warm up and then trying to cool it down later. Do I have anything to substantiate that? No, but neither has anyone who has explained the other theory either. Also, they say that dropping the heat or raising the AC temperature by a few degrees can save double digital percentages in electricity.

Myth 4: Cold Water Doesn’t Wash As Good As Hot Water. I’ve never used the hot water cycle in the washing machine because it’s not necessary and apparently 80-85% of the energy used by a washer is for generating heat.

Myth 5: Energy Star Labels Are Correct and Regulated. There was a recent expose in Smart Money magazine about how the energy star labels on some appliances were not regulated by the government.

via 5 Tips [5].