“Turning off lights when you leave the room saves electricity.”
We’ve all heard this energy-saving tip before and know it’s true – when a device is off, it consumes less energy.
But how many inaccurate tidbits are passed around? Here are four energy-saving myths that are making the rounds.
Energy-Saving Myth: We should turn off the air conditioner when we leave on a hot day to save energy.
Turning off your air conditioner is not ideal in Texas’ triple-digit heat.
What you’ll want to do is install a programmable thermostat and use the following temperature guidelines, which are recommended for Texas residents.
- Summer months: 78°F when you’re home, 80°+ when you’re away
- Winter months: 68°F when you’re home, 64° or less when you’re away
The Public Utility Commission of Texas points out that each degree of extra cooling or heating increases electricity usage 6 percent to 8 percent.
In the spring and fall, you want to keep the thermostat as close to the outside temperature as possible to reduce electricity usage.
Since approximately one-quarter of Texans’ residential energy consumption goes toward air conditioning, maximizing your AC’s efficiency is a great way to save money on your electric bill.
Energy-Saving Myth: Setting your thermostat to a temperature lower than desired will cool your residence faster.
Doing this actually makes your AC run longer to reach the programmed temperature – it doesn’t make your house or apartment cool faster.
This myth results in excessive cooling and can cost you more money than setting the thermostat to the temperature at which you’re most comfortable.
A few remedies to increase your comfort during the summer:
- Use ceiling or floor fans.
- Install a programmable thermostat and set it to start cooling or heating 30 minutes before you usually get home.
- Close all drapes and blinds during summer if direct sunlight streams into a room to keep the sun’s radiant heat out.
- Get rid of all incandescent light bulbs. Ninety percent of the electricity used to make the bulb light up is wasted as heat.
Energy-Saving Myth: Fans cool the air.
The saying that people share now is, “Fans cool people, not rooms.”
If that’s the case, what do fans do?
Fans help circulate air when used indoors and also create the wind-chill effect when spinning counterclockwise. Depending on the speed, a fan can help a room feel 4°F to 6°F cooler to you, allowing you to increase your thermostat’s temperature by the same amount.
Conversely, when fans spin clockwise, they produce a gentle updraft that brings the warm air by the ceiling down. This is the direction fans should spin during winter.
Now that this energy-saving myth is busted, turn off fans when you leave rooms unless the spaces have poor air circulation.
Energy-Saving Myth: Screen savers save electricity.
Screen savers can actually use more electricity than your screen does when you’re using it. Instead, you’ll want to program your monitor go to sleep after a certain period of time.
Here are guidelines from the Department of Energy:
- Turn off the monitor if you aren’t going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes.
- Turn off both the CPU and monitor if you’re not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours.
You can also buy an Energy Star computer, laptop or monitor so that you’re using the most energy-efficient devices available.