Local residents often ask our technicians about the best ways to save energy around their homes. During these conversations, we’ve discovered some misconceptions out there that may be costing you money. Today, we’d like to bust some of the energy efficiency myths we’ve heard around the Lufkin and Nacogdoches areas. This list can help put you on the right track to future energy efficiency and conservation – and save you money, too.
- Myth: Purchasing energy efficient heating and cooling equipment automatically reduces your energy bill.
Truth: Proper HVAC system sizing and quality installation are also needed, along with a well-designed and sealed duct system – for maximum savings. As the federal DOE’s Energy Star website points out, selecting energy efficient equipment is only half of the equation. Get your local HVAC professional involved early in the process for assistance in comparing models and features. Your home comfort contractor will determine your household’s heating/cooling needs with careful measurements and detailed calculations for system sizing. Once it’s installed, your technician will check for proper air flow throughout the home.
- Myth: If you boil water starting with hot tap water, you’ll save energy.
Truth: Starting with cold water requires a roughly equal amount of energy. And after all, you’ve already paid to heat the tap water in the water heater!
- Myth: Energy efficiency and conservation mean the same thing.
Truth: They’re related concepts – but energy conservation means “making do” with less. Conservation examples: setting back thermostats and/or turning up refrigerator temperature. Efficiency means accomplishing the same task using less energy. Achieve that goal by replacing a worn-out HVAC system with a newer, better-designed model.
- Myth: It’s better to cool/heat the whole house to the same temperature with one basic thermostat.
Truth: Zoning systems route conditioned air only where it’s needed. This saves energy while keeping your family comfortable, no matter where they are in the house. Install a programmable thermostat for practically effortless savings.
- Myth: Electric space heaters save money.
Truth: Don’t fall victim to energy efficiency myths like this one. Use your gas-fueled system to heat the whole house with one-quarter the energy.
- Myth: Closing room vents will save energy.
Truth: Most energy consumption occurs before conditioned air gets to rooms. Inefficient energy use happens in (older, inefficient) HVAC equipment. Leaky ducts waste up to 30 percent of conditioned air, before it gets to the rooms of your home. Have your duct system professionally inspected and sealed by your HVAC contractor. Consider replacing underperforming HVAC equipment when repair and operating costs get too high for comfort.
- Myth: When a device is turned off, it’s not using any energy.
Truth: Energy efficiency myths like this can really increase your energy bill. Many devices consume power even when switched off – so unplug those energy vampires. Examples include microwaves or DVRs that display the time or a greeting, and some cell phone chargers. Consider using power-saver or “sleep” settings on your computer to limit phantom energy use. Unplug electronic devices and appliances when not needed, using surge protectors to conveniently switch off several at once. For the computer, you might consider using a power-saver setting. (If your DVR is set to record your favorite show or your dishwasher is on a timer, you’ll need to keep them plugged in, of course.)
- Myth: Residential geothermal power costs too much to install.
Truth: You can recoup your investment relatively quickly with the low operating costs of a geothermal system. With no combustion, geothermal can supply heating and cooling up to four times more efficiently than traditional systems. A 30 percent federal tax credit is available to defray the costs of qualifying geothermal systems.
- Myth: Seal ducts with duct tape – that’s what it’s made for!
Truth: That’s one of the most common energy efficiency myths. Duct tape can dry out/fall off, especially in dusty locations. Let a professional inspect, locate leaks and properly seal your system.
- Myth: Turn your central air conditioning way up to make your house comfortable quickly.
Truth: You won’t get more cool air that way. Instead, choose a new system with a variable speed motor, which defaults to a “low” setting, ramping up when necessary.
- Myth: Leaving HVAC systems and electrical devices “on” uses less energy than allowing them to cycle or turning them on/off frequently.
Truth: Some devices experience small power surges when switched on, but won’t expend as much energy as when left “always on.” Cycling stressed older equipment, reducing its useful life – but current designs have largely overcome that flaw.
- Myth: You can handle all your HVAC problems on your own.
Truth: For expert advice and service, count on McWilliams & Son Heating and Air Conditioning.
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