Myth Busters 8 Ideas About Energy Efficiency Debunked!

Myth Busters: 8 Ideas About Energy Efficiency Debunked!

Every wondered if all of those facts you hear about being energy efficient are true or not? Here are 8 Ideas About Energy Efficiency Debunked!

1.  It takes more energy to turn the lights on and off throughout the day then it does to leave them running.  The facts: False, given today’s lighting technology.  For many years, commercial lighting used a type of fluorescent bulb that took a long time – up to several minutes – to turn completely on.  For this reason, the recommendation was to simply keep the lights on.  Not only did it take a ton of energy to fire up these old bulbs, it was not practical to wait 5 minutes before starting a presentation, meeting, or class!   Today’s light bulbs take less than 1 second to light up.  Unless the bulb hasn’t been replaced for 5 years or more, even the large lights we see in commercial buildings, schools, gyms and other large spaces have all been retrofitted with fast-fire lamps.  The rule of thumb now is that if the light isn’t needed for 10 seconds or more, turn it off!

2.  Leaving a ceiling fan on while you are not in a room will help keep it cool.   The facts: Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms.  Unlike air conditioning units, fans are simply recirculating air and creating flow – that slight breeze that we feel cools us down, but does not actually alter the air temperature.  Save energy by turning off the air conditioner and turning on the ceiling fan while you are in a room…but keep both the fan and AC off when you leave!

3.  Turning the thermostat up or down several degrees will heat or cool your building faster.   The facts: Thermostats are simple temperature regulators.  All they do is tell your heating or cooling system when to turn on or off once the room reaches a specific temperature.  The thermostat doesn’t work “harder” when you change the temperature, it will only make the furnace or AC work longer!  It’s like pressing the elevator button more than once – it doesn’t actually help the elevator come faster.  The best way to save energy is to have a programmable thermostat which you can set based on your schedule.  Utilizing your shades is helpful, too!  If you have a lot of sunlight coming into your building during the day, be sure the shades are shut to keep out warmth during hotter months, or open to bring in sun during cooler months.

4.  Turning your computer on and off is bad for it, and it wastes energy.   The facts:  Like the light bulbs in Myth #1, older computers did experience wear and tear from being turned on and off more than once per day.  Today’s machines are not so finicky and do just fine being turned on and off thousands of times throughout their life.  If you are still not convinced that turning off your computer or laptop is safe, save energy by using the built-in sleep mode setting, or the automatic shutdown setting.  If you are using a desktop, keep in mind that the monitor uses more energy than the hard drive does.  Be sure to shut down both components each night!

5.  Using an electric space heater saves money.   The facts:  This could actually be true…but only if you are doing it right!  In many parts of the world, electricity costs significantly more than natural gas, and generally speaking, most buildings (in the USA) utilize natural gas for their heat.   Find out how much a therm of gas costs in your area by calling your natural gas provider.  Then compare that to the cost of a kilowatt hour.  For some, electricity will cost 10x more!  If this is the case, your space heater is costing you significantly more money to run than your furnace.  If you have a very large building with only 1 boiler and are using only 1 room in the space (say for a Saturday art class at a school, or an afterhours meeting at your large office building), then a space heater may be economical for a short period of time.  Be mindful of how you are utilizing space so that you don’t end up spending when you think you are saving!

Myth Busters 8 Ideas About Energy Efficiency Debunked!

6.  If air is leaking from my building, it must be from the windows and doors.   The facts:  While windows and doors do play a large role in a secure building envelope, typically the most extreme air leakage comes from air duct leaks and holes in your ceiling and attic.  Installing weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors is always a good idea, just don’t forget to repair those ducts as well!

7.  It takes more energy to cool a building when the AC has been off all night/weekend than it does to keep it running at a higher temperature.   The facts:  It always saves energy to shut units down completely.  Keeping a cooling unit running over night or the weekend wastes unneeded energy – even if you have it turned up to 85°.  As we mentioned in Myth #3, changing the temperature on your thermostat doesn’t make it work faster or slower, it simply turns things on and off at different rates.  By using a programmable thermostat, you can be sure that your home, work or community building is at a comfortable temperature by the time it’s being used; and that it’s conserving energy and not cooling when it isn’t needed during nights, holidays and weekends.  If you’re programmable thermostat doesn’t have an option to turn “off” during certain times, consider adding a step to your opening and closing procedures that includes turning the thermostat on and off when appropriate.  During the winter months it is important to keep your building at warmed enough to avoid freezing pipes, however in warmer climates and seasons it is safe to turn your cooling units off completely.

8.  I can’t decrease my energy bill without purchasing a whole bunch of new equipment, which I can’t afford.   The facts: Energy use is one our most controllable costs in any business or home!  Many people think that in order to be more energy efficient, they need to install new boilers, lights, cooling units, windows or even remodel their entire building.  The truth is that you can work with what you have by changing the behaviors of the people who operate and occupy your building every day.  Simple things like remembering to turn off the lights, shutting down computers, closing shades and adjusting the thermostat can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in a very short amount of time.  Controlling how much, or how little, energy we use each day is easy if you think about it!  To get started, think about each task you do from the moment you get up until the moment you go to sleep.  Try to think of 1 thing you can do to conserve energy during each task.  Whether it’s using cold water instead of hot, unplugging or turning something off, or choosing to bike rather than drive – each little bit makes a big difference!

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