Could you be fooling yourself?

7 Energy Saving Practices That Don't Save Energy

by Ann Ryan

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People believe they are saving money by following certain "energy-saving" practices. However, not all that we do actually helps us save money. Therefore, the following myths need to be debunked.

Myth #1 - There is no advantage to adjusting the thermostat at night when you are sleeping or when you are away from home. Research shows that adjusting the thermostat during the time you are sleeping or when you are away from home can reduce your utilities from 5 to 15%. That is because the amount of energy that is used is based on the outdoor temperature. Therefore, if you set the temperature up in the summer and down in the winter by about 10 degrees, you can save energy. As a result, making this adjustment during the time you are sleeping or before leaving for work can make a difference in your energy consumption.

Myth #2 - Leaving on computers, lights, or appliances results in lower energy consumption than when they are regularly turned off or on. Computers and lighting two decades ago were bigger energy hogs and more prone to damage from energy surges. Therefore, it was better, at that time, to leave them on. However, the rule has changed for today's lights, computers, and appliances. Any time that you are not using the lights or equipment in your home, it is better to turn them off.

Myth #3 - Hot water from the tap takes less energy to reach a boil than when water is cold. It does not matter whether water is cold or hot, it takes the same amount of energy to boil. That is because hot water from the tap uses energy from the hot water heater before it consumes the electricity from the stove.

Myth #4 - Duct tape should be used to seal ducts. In spite of the name, duct tape is not designed to seal ducts. If you need to use a tape, choose mastic tape to seal and insulate ductwork. Duct tape will not work in dusty or dirty environments.

Myth #5 - The better the energy efficiency, the more value placed on the real estate. Only a small correlation may exist between a home's purchase price and a higher efficiency heating or cooling system. For example, smaller high-efficiency HVAC systems can generate as much energy as larger inefficient systems. However, one study by the National Association of Home Builders did show that 51% of home buyers will pay about $10,000 more for a home if the energy upgrades save them around $1,000 per year.

Myth #6 - A drip from a faucet will not cause that much of an increase in a water bill. All those single drops of water from a dripping faucet can substantially raise a water bill. In fact, the drips usually translate into 300+ extra gallons of water used each month. You are literally throwing money down the drain if you don't fix a drip or leak.

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Myth #7 - A bath takes less energy than a shower. A shower, when using a low-flow shower head, uses approximately 25 gallons of water for 10 minutes. Baths usually hold about 40 gallons of water. Therefore, a shower uses less energy.

Take the Next Step:

  • Decide which energy myth will cause you to change your behavior.
  • Visit the TDS library for more on energy efficiency.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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