Six Common Energy Efficiency Myths

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Myths

Myth One

If I turn up the thermostat the room will get warm much more quickly.

This is not the case. A thermostat simply controls the maximum temperature, so turning it up will not alter how long the heating takes to achieve that room temperature.

Myth Two

It is more efficient to keep the heating on low all the time than to keep turning it on and off.

This means that your house is heated when you are not there and that it may be cold when you are home. It is far better, in terms of energy efficiency, to use a timer to heat the rooms that you are using while you are there. On a regular daily cycle, it is not necessary to have the heating on constantly to keep the fabric of the house warm. If you are away in winter, use a timer and thermostat to avoid frost damage to pipes. You can use radiator valves to restrict the heating to the rooms that you are using. Most people find 18°C to 21°C comfortable in an occupied room, and radiators can be turned down to 14°C or lower in other rooms.

Myth Three

When it is cold outside I need to turn the thermostat up to keep the house warm.

A thermostat maintains a desired temperature in the house no matter what the weather is doing outside.  Once you have selected your comfortable temperature, it can remain at that setting which improves your home’s energy efficiency.

Myth Four

Energy saving light bulbs take a long time to get bright, and they are very expensive.

There have been improvements in lighting technology in the last few years, especially with light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. They reach full brightness immediately, have reduced in price, typically last for over 20 years and their running costs are approximately a third of those of a comparable traditional halogen bulb.  

LED bulbs are now the best choice in terms of practicality and energy efficiency.

Myth Five

An appliance in standby mode does not use much energy..

Appliances on standby still use electricity. For an average household, turning them all off completely when they are not in use could save nearly £50 a year.

Myth Six

My vital appliances are responsible for much of the energy I use, so there is nothing I can do to reduce consumption.

Large appliances are responsible for about 15% of the energy bill for an average home, so dealing with the energy efficiency of heating is a greater priority. Nevertheless, choosing energy efficient appliances can also make a real reduction in consumption and bills. Compare energy labels on appliances before buying. Choosing an A+++ tumble dryer rather than a C-rated model can save approximately £50 per year.  A new A+++ electric oven will use some 60% less energy than a B-rated equivalent. 

Careful planning of how you use your appliances could also help. Dishwashers are very energy hungry, and can cost an average household nearly £50 a year to run. Consider whether you really need to use it to wash a few plates and make sure you wait for a full load before turning it on.

Some Bright Ideas for Saving Energy – LED and CFL Bulbs

LED

Some people are surprised that supermarkets no longer sell traditional 60W pearl incandescent light bulbs. This is probably because they waste 95% of the electricity they use and are no longer made.   This is why the terms LED and CFL are becoming more prevalent.

With more efficient alternatives now available, we are being encouraged to make the change to help save 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year across the EU.

With lower energy usage and a longer life, the new bulbs save money. Many people are throwing out their old bulbs even before they break and need replacing.  If you prefer a phased approach, start by changing the bulbs you use most. Leave those that get less use until the old bulb burns out.

What is available?

There is a bewildering range of technologies, fittings and power ratings available. For the best energy savings, choose light emitting diode (LED) or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs.

CFLs are what most people think of as low-energy light bulbs. They are available to fit almost any shape or size of light fitting and are suitable for indoor and outdoor lighting. A CFL should give approximately 10,000 hours of use. For comparison, the old-style bulbs last approximately 750 to 2,000 hours.

LEDs use 90% less energy than an equivalent incandescent bulb. They are great for dimmable lighting, down-lighters and indoor and outdoor spotlights. With a use life of 30,000 to 50,000 hours, they should survive for 20 years.

Both cost more than the equivalent incandescent bulb but prices have come down. It is possible to find them for £3 or £4, or even less in multipacks. The savings from running costs and longevity will soon recover the outlay.

How do I know what to buy?

The new bulbs use less power than traditional ones, so when matching a replacement you cannot compare the power rating (watts).  Instead, you need to consider the brightness (lumen).

Look for a LED or CFL rated around 1,600 lumen to replace a 100W traditional bulb, or one at 800 lumen for an old 60W.  Some of the early CFL bulbs did not seem very bright and, while modern ones are more effective, some people choose to replace CFLs with a higher lumen rating.

The other variable is the colour temperature of the light. The early energy-saving bulbs produced a harsher light than the relaxing, warm light that we were used to with incandescent bulbs. A broader range is now available, including bulbs that replicate that warmer glow.

Colour temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000. Bulbs with a warm, yellowish light are rated around 2,700k, while bulbs at 4,000k to 6,000k look bluer and colder.  As a general rule, warmer temperature light is more inviting and relaxing, while cooler temperature light is good for enhancing concentration in workspaces.

How much can I save?

According to the Energy Savings Trust, lighting accounts for 14% of a typical household electricity bill, so replacing old bulbs with LEDs will typically save a family of four in a three-bedroomed house approximately £30 per year.