Thought You Were Saving Energy? Or Is It All A Myth? Five Big Energy Saving Myths Debunked via Planet Green

Via Lindsey Block
on Nov 26, 2008
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Now is not only the greatest time to save energy for the planet but also for your wallet. But have you been saving energy the right way? Or have myths gotten the best of you? Here are five energy saving myths in a hope that you will stop doing these, but start saving energy the right way.

(Excerpt via Planet Green)
5 Energy Saving Myths, Debunked

Screen Savers Save Energy
Many people think that when the screen saver pops up, the computer has gone into energy saving mode. But you’ve likely noticed how quickly the computer screen pops up again when you touch a key or move the mouse. That’s because the screen saver doesn’t do anything at all to save energy. In fact, a screen saver is actually a file your computer is running, which means it’s as hard at work as ever.

Tip: To get the most energy savings from your computer, skip the screen savers. Instead, set your computer to go into sleep mode after a short period of inactivity—say, 10 or 15 minutes. Also, set your monitor to turn off in the same, or an even shorter time frame.

Turning Appliances and Electronics Off Saves Energy
Now, at first glance, this is absolutely true. Turning gadgets and appliances off when they’re not needed will save energy. However, it doesn’t mean that you’re saving 100% of your energy. Leaving things off but still plugged in subjects you to vampire power—they’re still sucking electricity from the wall socket. This is especially true with things that actually go into standby mode when turned off, such as a television, computer monitor, gadget charger, microwave and most definitely anything that has a lit display even when supposedly off. These items are still using energy to keep running, even when you think they’re shut down.

Tip: There are lots of ways to save more energy by avoiding vampire power. The easiest is to unplug things that are not in use. You can also get a power strip that allows you to cut power from anything plugged into it with a simple flip of a switch.

A Computer’s Sleep Mode is Okay for Overnight
Actually, sleep mode still uses a significant amount of energy. Both the computer and the monitor are drawing power to keep themselves in a suspended mode, ready to wake up the second you want to use them again. In fact, they could be sucking up as much as a combined 12 watts while you’re in bed dreaming of a lower energy bill.

Tip: Any time a computer is not going to be in use for a long period of time, be sure it is turned off. There are a variety of software programs that help you out with this. You can set your computer to save energy, and even to shut down at appointed times without having to be there to flip the switch.

It’s Better to Leave It On Than to Switch It Off and On Again
This is a big myth. Leaving something on for more than a brief period of time uses more energy than shutting it off and turning it back on when you need it. It used to be true that turning an appliance or light off and on all the time shortened its potential lifespan. But our technology has advanced so much that lights, appliances and gadgets can be turned off any time they aren’t needed and turned back on when they are, without any risk of harming them. And doing so means energy savings.

Tip: If you find that lights are often left on when they shouldn’t be, try an auto-sensor. For gadgets and appliances that often get left on, you might want to see how a power monitor works for you. This helps you track what items are using the most energy, reminds you to turn them off, and shows you your financial and carbon emissions savings. Check out these tools by Black & Decker as an option.

Electric room heaters are better than heating the whole house
It is often thought that it is better to heat just one room that is in use rather than the whole house in order to save energy. And typically that means employing an electric space heater. The truth is these are major energy suckers. It is impractical and expensive to have a space heater running for a long period of time. If the room where it is used is super insulated and is really the only room being used for a long time, then it might make sense. But for most of us, space heater efficiency is a big myth.

Tip: If you really want to cut energy costs for heating, try turning your thermostat down a degree or two. This actually saves a whole lot of heat. And if you’re feeling chilly, have extra socks, sweaters, and lap rug at the ready so you don’t even notice that little difference.


About Lindsey Block

Lindsey Block spends her weekdays as part of the Elephant Journal crew and her weekends hiking or picnicking at the park with a book. She's been a vegetarian for most of her adult life and delights in cooking up a new recipe (even though she really just wants to make tacos). She currently lives in Southern California.


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