Are you looking for ways to save energy? Myths around energy saving can lead to greater bills and more environmental damage and could even be dangerous.
If you’ve been left confused about what is and isn’t true about energy conservation and eco-friendliness, read on.
MYTH 1: It’s cheaper to leave the heating on low whilst at work
Many people have fallen prey to the belief that they will use less energy by leaving their heating on a low setting all day rather than turning it up higher when they return home.
Work carried out by the Energy Saving Trust found that the best way to save energy and still achieve the required temperature during the evening was to only switch it on when it is required. It is advisable to use a timer if you can as it will turn the heating on at the right time, at the right temperature so you can arrive back at a warm house.
If you do leave the heating on whilst you are away from your home, you will be losing energy throughout the day. However, it is advisable to leave your heating on at a low level if you are heading away for a considerable period during the winter, such as when you are going on holiday. This is to avoid frozen pipes, which can result in sizeable repair bills. It’s worthwhile to opt for a minimum of 12 degrees in this situation.
MYTH 2: I can paint my radiators black to save energy
Painting your radiators black will make no real difference to your energy consumption levels. However, you can place reflective panels behind your radiators to reduce some expense.
The panels may reflect heat from your radiator back into your space, preventing it from escaping through your external walls. You are more likely to benefit from the use of reflective panels if you have uninsulated walls. Most radiators operate via the process of convection as opposed to radiation, despite the name. Painting your radiators can protect them but won’t add to their heating efficiency.
MYTH 3: Leaving appliances on standby mode saves power
It’s always wise to unplug appliances like televisions and games consoles when they are not in use. Many appliances continue to consume power even in standby mode. This type of power is often dubbed ‘vampire power’.
If you find the idea of switching off all your devices one-by-one when you have finished with them tedious, you can use a power strip to turn them off simultaneously. The Energy Saving Trust says the average household loses up to £80 a year by leaving appliances on standby when they could be unplugged. Many appliances have features that draw energy if they are plugged in.
Even phone chargers can use small amounts of energy when they are not in use. If your devices remain warm when they are switched off, chances are they are consuming a great deal of power.
MYTH 4: Solar panels only work in the summer
Again, there is no truth in this.
Solar panels don’t require direct sunlight to provide our homes and businesses with power. Even on cloudy days, they can still supply us with a considerable amount of energy.
The reason solar panels are deemed to be more effective in the summer is simply that the days are longer, which means they are provided with larger doses of sunlight.
MYTH 5: If I turn up the thermostat, my house will heat up quicker
This is not the case. You won’t be able to heat your home any quicker if you opt for a higher temperature than you actually desire. Your boiler won’t heat up any faster, which means you will be simply wasting energy rather than improving the energy-efficiency of your house.
MYTH 6: It costs more to switch lights on and off than it does to leave them on
This is generally false. You will consume no extra energy by switching on standard and LED bulbs and only a very modest amount when powering on energy-saving bulbs. Even if you are only exiting a room for a short time, it’s best to switch off the lights whilst you are away.
Many people also assume that LEDs are more expensive to run than they are. The initial cost may be higher, but you can expect them to last around 50 times longer than traditional bulbs. They are also approximately 90% more energy-efficient.
MYTH 7: There are no real savings to be made by switching suppliers
Many people put off switching energy suppliers because they think the effort involved in the process is not justified by the cost. This is rarely true.
Switching suppliers generally takes very little effort or time at all, and the whole process can be completed in under an hour in many cases. Some electricity suppliers are notoriously expensive, and it is possible to save hundreds of pounds a year by shopping around.
MYTH 8: Central heating is more expensive than using portable heaters
If you have been taken in by this myth, you could be spending far more on heating your home than necessary. Not all portable and convector heaters are created equal, which means costs can vary wildly. However, it can cost almost 25p an hour to run a typical standalone heater, which means costs can spiral out of control over the course of the winter, especially if you spend a great deal of time at home.
Radiators also stay warm for longer once they are switched off, whereas heat from portable solutions can be lost fairly quickly.
Whilst we’re on the subject of retaining heat, adding insulation to your home is generally much more cost-effective than investing in double glazing, which prevents heat from leaving your home much more efficiently. Windows are only actually responsible for around 10% of the heat lost from homes.