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that can actually raise your heating bills!

Nashoba Air & BoilerWorksAround this time of year, you’ll read lots of advice about how to save money on your energy bills.  However, some of it is marketing hype, over simplified, or just WRONG!  These misconceptions are repeated verbally and in print and become “urban legends” – a story or anecdote that is based on hearsay and widely circulated as true.  While not as intriguing as the urban legend of alligators living in the sewers, these myths of how to save energy, can often do just the reverse.

Urban Legend #1 – The higher you dial up the temperature of the thermostat, the faster the room will heat up. 

Fact:  The higher the temperature of your thermostat, the more energy you consume and the higher your fuel bills. By increasing the temperature, you are simply wasting an extra 10 degrees of energy and money.

Urban Legend #2 – Closing vents in unoccupied rooms saves energy. 

Fact: This may seem like an energy saver, but restricting heated or air-conditioned air at a vent register just redirects it to other locations in the house or through leaks in the duct system.  Closing vents also puts backpressure on the fan that pushes the air through the system, causing it to work harden and use more energy or wearing out more quickly.

Urban Legend #3 – Ceiling fans cool rooms.

Fact: Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms.  Unlike air conditioning units, ceiling fans don’t cool the air; they move the air around.  The recirculated air creates a breeze that cools us down.  To save energy, it’s beneficial to run the fan only when people are in the room to feel the breeze.

Urban Legend #4 – Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature overnight uses less energy than turning it down and reheating your home in the morning.

Fact: It takes less energy to warm up a cold room in the morning than it does to maintain a constant temperature throughout the night.  Setting the temperature just a few degrees lower can significantly reduce heating costs.  If you also close the blinds and drapes at night in the winter, you’ll keep the cold out and give your heating system a break.

Urban Legend #5 – You’ll use less energy if you leave your lights on rather than turning them off and then back on. 

Fact: Leaving a lamp on consumes more energy than turning it on and off, as needed.  It doesn’t take any more electricity for a light bulb to turn itself back on.

Urban Legend #6 – Installing solar panels means never having to pay for electricity again.

Fact: Solar panels generate electricity during daylight hours.  They may save you some electricity costs, but you will need to use electricity from the grid as well.

Urban Legend #7 – Electronics do not consume energy when they are switched off. 

Fact: Electronic devices continue to use standby power from the outlets when they are off, which allows them to power up again quickly.  Unplug all appliances when not in use to avoid this hidden energy consumer. Also, unplug charging cords when not in use.

Urban Legend #8 – Bringing hot tap water to a boil uses less energy than using cold water. 

Fact:  Using hot water uses the same amount of energy to boil water.  If you use hot tap water, you are paying for the water heater to heat the water as well as for the gas or electric to bring it to a boil.  Instead, boil water in a covered pot; it will boil faster and use less energy.