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Energy Saving Myths and Realities

Energy Saving Myths… and Realities

Think you know how to be energy efficient? You may be doing some really important things to save energy and money. But the fact is some energy-saving measures are more nuanced than the basics you hear about on the news and in your community. Understand these myths and the more complex realities underneath them, and you can save even more.

Myth: Washing by hand beats using the dishwasher.

Reality: If you currently wash your dishes by hand using hot water and leave the faucet running the whole time, you will use a lot more energy than sticking your dishes in the dishwasher. You are better off just using the dishwasher, especially since you really don’t need to prerinse your dishes with modern dishwashers; or best of all filling up the sink and reusing the same water to wash all your dishes.

Myth: Replacing windows and doors is better than just plugging draughts.

Reality: Not always. By checking your windows and doors for leaks, and insulating them where air is getting out, you can save a bunch without much investment. The same goes for your central hooting/cooling ducts, because cracks in those mean the air you’re paying to heat or cool is ending up someplace you don’t want it. If you do want to replace your windows, consider interior plastic panes or soundproof windows, as they cost less and are still more cost effective than installing double- or triple-pane windows.

Myth: CFLs are always the most cost-effective light bulbs .

Reality: Here’s the deal. CFLs, which are the spirally bulbs that use fluorescent technology, are highly energy efficient. Also, when used in the majority of lighting situations, they have a very long life – up to eight years – meaning you don’t have to expend the effort and money to replace them very often. But, CFLs can burn out faster than expected when they’re turned on and off a lot. So for example, CFLs in the bathroom your family uses most often may not burn for as many hours as the CFLs in the basement – and they may even burn out faster than conventional bulbs if you had used them in that bathroom. So while you should make CFLs the standard in most of your house, in rooms where you may only be there for a minute or less, consider conventional incandescent bulbs or halogens to limit the cost and hassle of changing bulbs (though you’ll have to be OK with being a little energy-inefficient to light these rooms).

Myth: All lighting fixtures are created equal.

Reality: Recessed fixtures designed for conventional bulbs aren’t well suited for CFLs. After they switch to CFLs, some households experience that CFLs in recessed fixtures burn out early. This is because recessed fixtures designed for traditional bulbs can trap the small amount of heat that CFLs produce in such a way that they trigger the CFLs burn out. In these cases, you’ll need to find fixtures that can accommodate CFLs – these are easy to find at your local home store and are only a bit more expensive than other recessed fixtures.