According to the US Department of Energy, the typical family spends more than $2,000 a year on utility bills. There are many ways to reduce these costs, but if you are looking for advice on the internet, beware. Some well-meaning advice can actually be counterproductive.
To ensure your efforts lead to real savings, we debunk some of the most common energy saving myths.
Electricity is cheaper than other forms of energy
A quick online search for energy-saving tips can turn up statements such as “Using space heaters are more efficient than heating the whole house” and “Electric fireplaces and radiators autonomous can reduce your energy bill”. However, Jason Murton with Accurate Inspections, LLC says these are big misconceptions.
“In general, electricity is more expensive than other forms of energy, like natural gas, propane or fuel oil, at least as things stand,” he said. “When making comparisons, you need to consider the price at that specific time as well as the overall efficiency of the power source.”
Setting the thermostat to a high level will heat your home faster
You wake up in the morning to a cold house and immediately turn up the thermostat to get things warmed up as quickly as possible. But no matter what temperature you set, your furnace or boiler will work just as hard and fast to achieve that goal.
“And the same rule applies to your AC unit in the summer,” Murton said. “You can actually damage the mechanical components of the device if you lower it too low, too quickly. Set the temperature where you want it and let the system do what it’s designed to do.
Close vents in rooms you are not using
Your HVAC system is designed to heat or cool your home depending on its size. Even if you close the air vents, the system still generates the same amount of warm or cold air.
When you turn something off, it stops consuming electricity
False. It actually continues to draw electricity. It’s often called “vampire” electricity, and according to the Department of Energy, it’s responsible for about 5% of the energy consumed in the United States, costing electric customers more $3 billion each year.
When it’s cold, heavy curtains save energy
Curtains can give your home a warm feel, and you may feel less draft near windows. However, the air between the window and the fabric will cool and sink faster than the air in the rest of the room, so you probably won’t see big energy savings.
“On a sunny day in the winter, it actually pays to open your curtains and blinds, especially if you’re facing south,” Murton said. “And if you have a veranda on the south side of the house, open the door and let the warmth of the sun spread throughout the rest of the house.”
When it comes to windows, Murton says the most important thing is to make sure they’re locked.
“Locking them together creates a good seal, which helps your HVAC system cool or heat your home more efficiently, resulting in a comfortable interior and lower energy bills,” he says.
Turning down the thermostat while you’re away doesn’t save much energy
According to the Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% per year on heating and cooling by simply turning down your thermostat by 7-10°F for eight hours a day.
“Older furnaces and boilers required more energy to heat up, so it made sense to leave them at a constant temperature,” Murton said. “But modern furnaces are much more efficient and heat up quickly, so if you’re going for two or more hours, it’s worth turning down your thermostat.”
And today’s smart thermostats make that process easier than ever by connecting to your Wi-Fi and automatically adjusting your home’s heating and cooling to match your active lifestyle.
For more tips and resources for landlords, follow the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® on Facebook.