Personal View on: Top Five Energy Savings Myths Debunked

I read an article today that I want to agree with 95%. I want to chime in with some personal perspectives and see what others have to say.

A Press Release was published by Reliant Energy entitled: Top Five Energy Savings Myths Debunked by Reliant’s Energy Expert I’m not going to argue with their expertise as I’m 100% positive they have more knowledge on the matter than I do, but I do have personal experience I want to add to their point of view.

First, from the article:

— Myth 1: Use fans to keep your house cool.
Fans are for people, not rooms. Ceiling fans create a wind-chill effect that makes you feel cooler. Although ceiling fans cost only about a penny an hour to operate, they should be turned off in unoccupied rooms. You won’t get the benefit if you’re not in the room.

I don’t care if a room is actually cooler or not, if a room feels cooler because there is air movement going on, than a fan is good thing.  I’ve found that even if I’m not in the room, that a fan will still distribute air around the house. A fan in the next room will still have some affect on the rooms nearby. Where I agree 100% with this is that if you are not going to be at home, or are spending all your time in 1-2 rooms, don’t bother with the other rooms. Put the fans where you are.

— Myth 2: Turning the thermostat way down will cool down the house faster.
Your thermostat isn’t an accelerator. It’s not going to cool your house faster if you set the thermostat to 60 degrees than if you set it to 70 degrees. It’s best to keep it at a constant setting — it will shut off when the desired temperature is reached.

Totally agree. A heater or AC unit doesn’t have a variable heat or cool element. It doesn’t work like your stove or oven does where the coil only gets so hot. It is either on, or off. Set it and stay away.

— Myth 3: The larger the air conditioner, the cooler your house will be.
Bigger is not better when it comes to air conditioning units. If the AC is too big for the home, the unit will short cycle, turning the unit off before it has the opportunity to remove the humidity. Ensure your air conditioner is sized correctly for both comfort and efficiency. It’s best to hire an HVAC professional to determine the proper size for your air conditioning equipment.

I got a large education about this recently. If your unit is too large (humm… ) it isn’t working properly for your house and you may have been sold a bigger unit than you need. Perhaps to run the bill up. The science to properly fitting a HVAC system to a home is complex, but there are standards for a reason.

— Myth 4: Close air vents and doors in the rooms you don’t use.
Although this seems logical, it can affect the efficiency of your cooling system. Shutting off a supply vent does not stop air from entering the duct. It just keeps air from entering the room. Keeping a door closed keeps air from circulating freely in the room and prevents a free flow of air throughout your home.

I’ve heard this from several experts, and I’m just going to have to accept it as fact. No matter what level of explanation I get on this one, rarely does it make sense. Just being honest, and I’ll rely on the HVAC experts. I do know that if you live with zonal heat or wall heaters, this would not apply.

— Myth 5: Unplugging chargers and small appliances when you’re not using them will save you money on your electricity bill. When small appliances are not being used, they draw a very small amount of electricity — about one watt per hour versus the 4,000 watts per hour, on average, it takes to run a central air conditioning system. Although it will save energy over time, which can positively impact the environment, it will not lower your electricity bill significantly.

Ok, I’ll accept that this is not going to make a huge difference, but if we only do the things that have large impact, than we will be very slow in moving the needle. If I have 10 items I leave on all the time that draw very little energy, the impact of just those 10 items is going to have very little impact to my energy bill. However, if everyone in my neighborhood, city, state, or country reduced the energy load by 10 small items, we start to see what the potential is. I maintain, if it is not in use, take it off the grid.

Love to hear your thoughts.

About Garen Thatcher

All about me? I want to make this all about you and what I can do to make your life better, smarter, and richer. Research into energy and money saving home activities is my hobby and passion. I'm also investing in it for the future. This is my journey in helping us all.
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3 Responses to Personal View on: Top Five Energy Savings Myths Debunked

  1. Very nicely stated Garen

    Of course on Myth 2 – there are variable speed units, but most of us don’t have those units though

    Myth 4 – the easiest way I can explain this, your AC unit & ducting was hopefully designed & sized to move the proper amount of air into each room – if you choke down the amount entering the rooms, the AC still has to push it out through the easiest available hole (i.e. another register or through leaks in the duct) – if you have air leaking to the outside you have lost that conditioned air & because it is not available to be recirculated to the unit, it will have to pull that air from from the easiest available location (air leakage from the attic, walls, floor, etc…)

    Myth 5 – Thank you, the ROI, or it doesn’t help much crowds seem to forget that all one’s decisions are not based on when will I get my money back, etc… I actually recomend using a surge strip for a charging station – have all your IPad, cellphone, etc… chargers located in one area – turn it on while charging overnight & flip it off the next morning. If your interested on more tips: “25 Conservation Tips & Tricks

  2. Thanks for writing this article, Garen. I read the same article by Reliant that you’re quoting here and had the same reaction to their Myth #5. Your response to that is spot on.

    About Myth #1, the air redistribution of fans doesn’t really make that much difference. Also, fans ADD heat to a home. I wrote an article about this a while back (Turn Off Those Ceiling Fans! that addresses these issues. In that article is a link to Martin Holladay’s more thorough article on fans. I think you’ve got it right, though, since you’re advocating leaving only the fans in rooms where you’re active, not all the fans in the house, as many people do. It’s the ones that run 24/7 on porches that really drive me crazy.

    About Myth #4, Sean did a great job of explaining why you don’t want to do that. To summarize and add to his description, closing off vents does two things: (i) it increases duct leakage, and (ii) it increases the static pressure in the ducts, which can reduce air flow. Reduced air flow can cause evaporator coils to freeze up in ACs, possibly damaging the compressor, and it can overheat heat exchangers in furnaces.

  3. I think these 5 should be published more and more. They are all good basic info and need better exposure.

    On #3 I would also pose the problem of ‘complicated Manual J calculations’ and the practice of replacing a unit with the same size as probably reasons for oversizing.

    On #5, I think, like Sean, spending money on milliwatt savings is not usually the best idea. However, spending money on convenience will allow the milliwatt savings.

    The motto of my company is: Efficiency is not about changing how people work. Efficiency is about changing how things work.

    Making it convenient for people to something they want to do, and contributes to a small savings is changing how things work.

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