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Don’t be bamboozled by these 5 home energy myths

Washington Energy | 03/30/2016 | Posted in Home energy audit

These days, it seems like everyone has tips and tricks to help you reduce your energy usage and save a buck. And while many of these tips (including the ones from WES) are legitimate, there are several energy-saving misconceptions.

In the spirit of April Fools’ Day, we’re exposing a few of these myths so that you can save yourself from being bamboozled.

MYTH #1: Leaving the lights on saves more energy than turning them off and on.

The story goes that leaving the lights on for short periods of time saves more energy than turning them off and on again. This is untrue. Sure, there’s a tiny burst of energy when you flip the switch, but it doesn’t compare to the energy loss from keeping them on. Turn off those lights!

MYTH #2: If the switch is off, the appliance or electronic is off.

Not quite. There is a phenomenon called “phantom power” or “vampire power”, which occurs when a plugged-in item steals energy even though it’s switched off. Combat this creepy energy loss by simply unplugging electronics or appliances whenever possible.

MYTH #3: An energy-efficient furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump alone is enough to save on energy costs.

This one has a major caveat, and it has to do with the quality of the installation and the size of the system. If the system is too small, it has to work hard to heat or cool the home. If it’s too large, it uses more energy than it needs to. Either way, you lose potential energy and cost savings.

An energy-efficient furnace, A/C, or heat pump will help you save on energy costs, but only if you have an expert installer who performs a thorough inspection of your home’s size, ducts, and vents. This will help him or her recommend the proper size of the heating or cooling system for your unique home.

MYTH #4: Your thermostat will cool or heat your home faster if the temperature jump is a major one.

In general, thermostats will raise or lower temperature at a steady rate, regardless of how high or low it must go. The incremental time for each individual degree change is the same whether you’re going from 50° to 70°, or 65° to 62°.

MYTH #5: Closing vents in unused rooms can save on energy costs.

If only it were this simple! Most heating and cooling systems don’t differentiate between closed vents or open vents, so they work at the same efficiency and power regardless. Closing a vent can alter the system’s stability and allow pressure to build in the ductwork. This can cause leaks, which leads to decreased efficiency and higher energy bills, which was what you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Home energy myths and misconceptions are everywhere. For concrete, realistic ways to lower your energy bills, browse our site and learn about innovative products and helpful practices to make your home more efficient. So while you may fall victim to pranks from family or friends this April Fools’ Day, home energy efficiency is one area in which you’ll have the upper hand.

3 Responses to “Don’t be bamboozled by these 5 home energy myths”

  • Eric Fisk

    We fiddled with appliance upgrades and LEDs and power timers and other such stuff for years and it made no real difference. By far the biggest change for us was to stop using our clothes dryer in the summer- hang the clothes out to try on a rack. It works great, and our power bills dropped to near zero all summer long.


    WES did a super job of making our home energy efficient. Tankless hot water heater, gas fireplace, a new HVAC system. We had our attic and crawl space insulated. A few month after we had all that done, we received a graph comparing us to our neighbors. The neighbors were about 3 inches out on the graph and we were about a quarter inch.

    • Washington Energy

      “Your mileage may vary” for all of these energy changes, that’s for sure. We make our recommendations and calculations in our Home Energy Audits based on your historical uses (we take a look at your past utility bills). Thanks for that great tip about not using the dryer. We love energy savings any way you can get them!


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