When utilities start skyrocketing seasonally, we all start looking around for ways to save. After a little research, I discovered that some of the common wisdom surrounding energy efficiency is either wrong or misleading. Make the most of your time & money by avoiding these top 5 mistakes!
Truth: Your lamps don’t need a surge of power to turn on. They use a steady amount of electricity regardless of how often you turn them on and off, so you might as well get in the habit of hitting that switch on your way in and out of the room. The same is generally true of your electronics, so switch them off if you really want to save.
Truth: Unfortunately, Energy Star labels are handed out based on self-reported figures from the manufacturers, and not every company is as honest or as consistent with their quality control as we’d like. Do your research and buy from well-respected brands.
Truth: When a forced air heat or AC system is installed, it’s designed to work for your whole house. Not only does shutting off a vent in your guest room not save you money, it may actually cost more. Re-directed air is forced backwards into the system and the pressure can cause damage by overworking your compressor or furnace. Keep in mind that the energy is already expended before it ever reaches a vent. Just let the air flow!
Truth: This tip has the possibility of working out for you, but use it carefully. Electricity can cost as much as 4 to 10 times as much as natural gas. If you’re planning on heating more than one or two small rooms, space heaters will almost definitely cost you more than running the furnace. If you’re planning on staying in one room for the evening and turning down the heat everywhere else, then the space heater can help for a reasonable price.
Truth: It is true that your windows can leak a lot of heat, but how much really depends on the percentage of wall space they occupy. Look at all the walls and doors that make up the rest of the room. No matter how good your windows are, you’re barely going to make a dent in efficiency if your walls are poorly insulated and your doors need better weather-stripping. No matter what your window salesman tells you, there’s no such thing as a cure-all and windows may actually be the least of your problems. That’s not to say that new windows are a bad idea, but keep in mind that they’re just a part of your whole-house strategy for conserving energy.