From the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Following is a list of myths about energy and energy savings. Sometimes the basic premise is correct, but the energy savings are much smaller than people realize. In other cases the myth is based on factors that were once true but have been subsequently resolved through better design or manufacturing of products.
When my appliance is turned off, it's off. In fact, we've found that most devices continue to consume power when they're switched off, sometimes as much power as when they're on!
Cleaning refrigerator coils saves energy. While this seems intuitively logical, and very small savings may indeed arise, efforts to actually measure this effect have typically come up empty-handed.
Installing foam gaskets in electrical outlets will significantly reduce air leakage. Measurements have shown that less than 1% of a home's air leakage is due to outlets.
Leaving lights, computers, and other appliances on uses less energy than turning them off and makes them last longer. The small surge of power created when some devices are turned on is vastly smaller than the energy used by running the device when it's not needed. While it used to be the case that cycling appliances and lighting on and off drastically reduced their useful lifetimes, these problems have been largely overcome through better design.
Energy efficiency increases the first cost of houses. This is not necessarily the case. Market data have shown, for example, that there is little or no correlation between refrigerator efficiency and purchase price. In some instances, efficiency can even reduce first cost as in the case where smaller ("downsized") heating and cooling systems can be installed if they're highly efficient. Smaller units with high efficiency generate as much heating or cooling benefit as large, inefficient ones.
Insulating the ceiling will just cause more heat to leak out of the windows. Adding insulation to one part of a home won't increase the "pressure" on heat losses through other parts. However, it is certainly true that poorly insulated areas will be the major loser of heat and they often merit attention before improving already well-insulated parts of the home.
Switching to electric room heaters will reduce your energy bill. This is true only under some circumstances. If you have central electric heating, the using room heaters will most likely save you money. But, if you have central gas heating (which is far cheaper per unit of useful heat) you can easily match or even exceed your heating bill by switching to electrical units.
Fluorescent lighting is unhealthy. Fluorescent lighting has made vast strides in recent years. Today's fluorescent lighting is greatly improved in color quality and that annoying “flicker” has been eliminated for systems that utilize electronic ballast. Meanwhile, the pollution created by generating electricity to run standard inefficient lights has many known health effects. If it's been awhile since you tried fluorescent lights, you might give them another chance.
Halogen lighting is super-efficient. It's true that halogen lights use slightly less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, but halogens require transformers that can use extra energy, even when the light is off. They are also a fire hazard. By comparison, compact fluorescent lights are nearly three-times as efficient and don't pose a fire hazard. Many new models are dimmable, like halogens. See http://www.lightsite.net.
Electric heating is more efficient than fuel-based heating. It's true that all, or almost all, of the electricity that goes into an electric heater is transformed to useful heat in your home. However, making electricity is an inefficient process, with as much as two-thirds of the input energy (coal, natural gas, etc.) being lost in the process. This is why electricity is so much more expensive for the consumer than direct fuels.
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