Energy Efficiency Myths Debunked

July 10, 2023
Energy Efficiency Myths Debunked | HVAC Services in St. Louis | Heating & Cooling

Debunking energy efficiency myths. There’s a lot of well-meaning but misplaced advice about how to save energy. Whether old tricks no longer work or some people speak beyond their expertise, it can be hard to know what really increases comfort and energy efficiency and what’s a waste of time.

At SmartHouse Heating & Cooling, we use our expertise to give honest advice that works for your St. Louis home’s comfort and budget. Read on to learn more about what truly saves energy and what doesn’t. If you’re ready to bring a new level of comfort and efficiency to your home, call SmartHouse today at 314-370-1816, text us at 314-310-2242, or schedule an appointment online.

14 Common Energy Efficiency Myths Debunked

Myth: Turning off and on lights uses more energy than leaving them on.

Fact: Turning off lights when not needed always saves energy. The brief surge of power when turning lights on is minimal compared to the energy wasted by leaving them on unnecessarily.

The Smart Choice: If you’re worried about your lights consuming too much energy, use LED bulbs, which use less energy and produce less heat. From an energy standpoint, it’s always best to keep lights off when they’re not needed.

Myth: Ceiling fans help cool your home.

Fact: Fans don’t cool homes. They help you feel more comfortable in hot temperatures by creating a breeze. Turning them on is still useful in regards to comfort, but doing so doesn’t inherently save energy or reduce strain on your AC.

The Smart Choice: Make sure the fan is rotating counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. Also, when it’s really hot outside, focus on your comfort instead of just the temperature. The breeze from a ceiling fan may allow you to raise your thermostat settings while still feeling cooled off.

Myth: Closing vents and doors in unused rooms saves energy.

Fact: Closing vents in unused rooms can actually disrupt the balance of your heating or cooling system, leading to inefficiencies. Restricting airflow can also lead to increased pressure on the ductwork. It’s better to maintain a consistent airflow throughout the house for optimal energy usage.

The Smart Choice: Consider a zoning system where you can control the temperature of different areas of your house individually without putting additional strain on your HVAC system. If a room is not conditioned by your system, it’s fine to close the door to keep cool air where you need it. But closing the door to any room that’s connected to your HVAC unit will throw off the balance of the duct system.

Myth: Keeping the thermostat at a constant temperature saves more energy.

Fact: The energy it takes to cool or heat your home depends just as much on the temperature outside as on the indoor temperature settings, and you don’t want to make your unit work harder than it has to. Adjusting the thermostat when you’re away or sleeping, lowering the temperature in winter, and raising it in the summer, can significantly reduce energy consumption.

The Smart Choice: Consider programmable or smart thermostats to raise or lower the temperature when you’re away to both save on energy and come home to a comfortable temperature.

Also, find a balance between efficiency and comfort. It’s a good idea to raise or lower the thermostat by 3-5° when you’re not home, but don’t make drastic temperature changes that make your home unbearable.

Myth: The upfront cost of more energy-efficient technology puts it out of my price range.

Fact: While many energy-efficient appliances have a higher upfront cost, they save you money in the long run through reduced energy consumption. Energy Star-rated appliances are designed to be more efficient, leading to lower utility bills over their lifespan. Depending on the unit you invest in, you may recoup the higher upfront cost in anywhere from two seasons to 8 or 10 years.

The Smart Choice: Explore all your options before deciding a more energy-efficient HVAC system is out of reach. Look at different products, and calculate how much money you can save on utility bills with more efficiency. The Daikin Fit has become our most popular product, in large part because it offers industry-leading benefits at a very competitive price point.

Additionally, SmartHouse offers a range of financing options for new installations, and we’ll even fill out rebate and warranty applications for you to help your home be even more cost-effective.

Myth: Portable dehumidifiers are best for dehumidifying homes with moisture issues in multiple rooms.

Fact: A portable dehumidifier can do a fine job regulating humidity in one room, but homes with humidity issues in two or more rooms would be better served by a whole-house dehumidifier as they’re more efficient than multiple portable units. Portable units consume significant energy and are best used for dehumidifying small, localized areas for short periods.

The Smart Choice: If you’re having humidity issues in more than one room, investing in a whole-house dehumidifier is usually more energy efficient. If it’s time to replace your AC unit, consider a variable capacity system that generally offers better dehumidification.

Myth: Setting the thermostat to an extremely hot or cold temperature helps reach the desired temperature faster.

Fact: HVAC systems heat or cool at a consistent rate. Gas furnaces put out air that’s about 120° and ACs lower the temperature of the air that goes into it by about 20°. Typically, they run until your home reaches your desired temperature. There’s no way to make your heating or cooling work faster in the moment.

The Smart Choice: Set your thermostat to the highest or lowest temperature you’re comfortable with and leave it alone. Some homeowners try to bribe or negotiate with their thermostat, but it’s usually ineffective or leads to less efficiency. If you need to, use a sweater to keep warm or a fan to create a breeze while you wait for your home to get to the right temperature.

Myth: Most heat escapes through windows.

Fact: We’re often told to close blinds to keep our homes warm and save energy. In truth, the sun can actually provide heat through the windows (for free!) on colder days.

The Smart Choice: People often make a bigger deal about windows and energy efficiency than they need to. If your windows are in generally good condition they’re probably not losing too much heat. Most heat escapes through walls or poorly insulated attics and basements.

Myth: Attics and basements don’t need to be insulated if I don’t use them.

Fact: As mentioned in the previous myth, uninsulated basements and attics can affect the temperature of the entire home. You don’t need to worry about heating and cooling unused rooms, but insulating them will achieve a greater balance and energy efficiency.

The Smart Choice: Again, if it’s time to make changes to your heating and cooling system, call SmartHouse. Our emphasis on building science makes us uniquely qualified to solve comfort problems in a home’s structure.

Myth: You should turn the heat off if you go away during the winter.

Fact: While your couch is probably fine in freezing temperatures, your pipes won’t be. Some pipes can even freeze in 50° temperatures depending on where in your home they’re located. Saving a few bucks on bills isn’t worth coming home to a burst pipe.

The Smart Choice: If you go on vacation in the winter, turn the heat down to the low 60s, but don’t shut it off completely.

Myth: Environmentally-friendly energy solutions are inefficient, unreliable, and/or too expensive.

Fact: Technological advances have made reducing your home’s carbon footprint an accessible option for most homeowners. Most environmentally-friendly home improvements are equally or more efficient than those reliant on fossil fuels, and higher energy efficiency usually balances out cost.

The Smart Choice: The Inflation Reduction Act and local rebates and incentives often make these technologies more attractive than other improvements from a cost perspective. Whether you’re interested in being eco-friendly or not, we often find these systems to offer the best outcomes for certain homes.

Myth: Newer homes are always more efficient than older homes.

Fact: This is partially true. Newer homes are built with higher energy standards in mind, but with informed and smart decisions, older homes can be retrofitted to be significantly improved.

The Smart Choice: Never assume that you just have to deal with discomfort or efficiency issues in an older home. The science of a healthy heating and cooling system doesn’t change with the age of a home, and there are always improvements you can make.

Myth: Energy efficiency improvements and accessories aren’t worth it.

Fact: While there were certainly deficiencies in some earlier technologies — LED lights, for example, didn’t use to light rooms as well — advances have made most of those complaints moot. From Smart thermostats to germicidal lamps and whole house dehumidifiers, there are a bevy of products that can help you save money and be more comfortable.

That doesn’t mean that every nifty gadget under the sun will make a difference in your specific home. With the selection of the right products and methods, applied in the correct scenario, most homes can easily become more comfortable and more cost-saving.

The Smart Choice: Make sure you hire an HVAC company with building science experts on its team with the training to deliver accurate recommendations. SmartHouse sets itself apart by offering personalized and dynamic solutions to your home comfort problems. Tell us what you need from your home, and we’ll provide the answer.

Call SmartHouse for Your Energy Efficiency Needs Today

Many well-meaning but misguided notions about energy-saving practices can lead to wasted time and resources. With SmartHouse, you get honest advice based on our expertise and what will work best for you. Contact us today at 314-370-1816, text us at 314-310-2242, or contact us online.