By Steph Coelho
Some of the questionable energy-saving tips you've run across may have had some validity a long time ago, but with the technological advancements of past years, a lot of the information circulating out there just isn’t accurate anymore. It’s time to retire those tired old suggestions for reducing energy costs and instead adopt some practical, real-life measures that genuinely work. Check out these 10 energy-savings myths we want to see wiped from the internet.
MYTH 1: Close vents in empty rooms to save on your energy bill
We’ll forgive you for falling prey to this tip. On the surface, it seems to make sense. Closing vents ensures that all hot or cold air is directed only to high-traffic areas. Hold on, though! Don’t shut the vents in your guest bedroom quite yet. Closing vents can cause pressure buildup and leaks in the HVAC ducts, which in turn lead to energy waste.
MYTH 2: Using your dishwasher is worse than hand-washing
Nope. This may have been true once upon a time, but most of today's homes are outfitted with Energy Star-certified dishwashers that feature energy-efficient wash settings. Washing kitchenware by hand now often uses up more hot water than the machine would use. You should, however, avoid running the appliance if it's almost empty—that’s still wasteful, no matter how eco-friendly the dishwasher.
MYTH 3: If it's off, it’s not using up energy
Plugged-in appliances or electronic gadgets still draw power even when turned off. To prevent this sucking of "vampire power," unplug infrequently used electronics when they're not in use or when you’re heading out on vacation. Don’t forget to remove chargers from outlets too!
MYTH 4: A smart thermostat will save you tons of money
The savings potential of smart thermostats is an oft-used selling point and something that smart thermostat companies love to boast about, but it’s not necessarily true. For instance, if you already use a programmable thermostat, installing a smart device may not have any measurable impact on your utility bill. Similarly, an intelligent thermostat won’t save you money if it’s underutilized.
MYTH 5: Cranking up the heat gets your home warm faster
You’re lounging around on a gloomy Saturday afternoon and notice your feet are getting chilly, so you crank up the thermostat to warm things up fast. Unfortunately, jumping the setting up really high doesn't magically make the system heat more quickly, nor does setting the AC really low make your house cool down faster in warm weather. Instead, your HVAC system will just work longer to reach that unnecessarily high setting, and you'll probably need to adjust the thermostat down again later on. It's best to use a programmable thermostat to maintain comfortable temperatures and make small adjustments as necessary.
MYTH 6: Using Eco Temperature settings when leaving the house is ultra-wasteful
Not true. It takes more energy to keep your home at a consistent comfortable temperature than to reheat or cool down upon your return. Just make sure the Eco Temperature setting on your thermostat isn’t so low as to allow pipes to freeze in especially frigid weather.
MYTH 7: Run your HVAC fan continuously and reduce the need for active heating and cooling
Running the HVAC fan helps circulate the air in your home, but running it all the time is a colossal energy suck. While the fan does evenly distribute air and can reduce the presence of allergens, running it 24/7 can add hundreds of dollars per year to your utility bill.
MYTH 8: You won't need to change the filters if you run your HVAC fan continuously
Nope. Your HVAC fan can reduce the presence of allergens in your home, but that doesn’t negate the need to replace the unit’s filters. In fact, when you run the fan continuously, more air is being pushed through the filters, so they will clog up more quickly.
MYTH 9: No need to fix what ain’t broke
You’ve gone a year without any HVAC problems. Great! You should still call an HVAC technician for a system checkup about once a year. Regular maintenance helps extend the lifespan of your system and ensures that problems are spotted before they can leave their mark on your utility bill.
MYTH 10: If you use it less, you'll save energy and it’ll last longer
Leave a car sitting in a driveway or garage for months on end, and there’s a chance it may not start the next time you turn on the ignition. The same is true for household appliances. Limiting their use can lead to premature wear and tear. Dishwashers, for example, are built to handle constant moisture exposure. When they're left to sit, seals may start to crack, reducing the appliance's lifespan.