Energy Myths

Sometimes the basic premise about energy savings is correct, but the savings can be much smaller than people realize. In other cases, the myth is based on factors that were once true, but have subsequently evolved through better design or manufacturing of products.

Answers to questions about home energy use depend heavily on your personal situation - the climate where you live, your energy usage patterns, home size, and features. For more definitive answers, check out our Energy Conservation Audits page.

  • Thermostat Setting

    Energy Myth #1 Changing the thermostat setting a few degrees will not increase your bill.

    Even one degree can increase your energy bill from 4 - 8%. Recommended settings are 68º in winter and 78º in summer. Each degree of change adds 4 - 8%, so only adjust the thermostat when you’re leaving home. In colder weather, lower it to 65º if you’ll be gone four or more hours. (For a heat pump, return the setting to 68º in two-degree increments.) In summer, raise the setting to 81º–83º if you’ll be away for two or more hours. Degrees equal dollars: save them, don’t waste them!

  • Thermostat

    Energy Myth #2 Using heat strips costs the same as using your heat pump.

    If you have a heat pump, cranking your thermostat up more than two degrees at a time will warm your home faster, BUT will cost you more money. WHY? You activate the costly heat strips, so you are turning on a second, more expensive source of heat. Be warm, but be smart.

  • Appliances

    Energy Myth #3 Energy-saving appliances are not worth the higher price.

    The price tag on a major appliance is only its initial cost. You also pay for the electricity it uses over its lifetime, usually 10–20 years. Energy-efficient appliances are bargains, especially those rated Energy-Star. Savings on your utility bills can more than make up for a higher price tag. Check out this issue of Tidings for more information about new appliances and new Florida rebates.

  • Energy Efficient Windows

    Energy Myth #4 New energy-saving windows save a lot of money.

    Not for a very long while—that’s the myth buster. Purchase cost can be high to replace standard windows with energy-efficient models. They do save energy, but recouping the cost through lower bills could take up to 40 years. Less expensive options are caulking, window film or screen, and drapes, blinds, and awnings. Contact our Energy Conservation Specialist at 904-247-6241 for advice specific to your home. He’ll also know when new windows are a good choice.

  • Thermostat Air Conditioner and Fan

    Energy Myth #5 Set your air-conditioner fan to ON at the thermostat to save money and increase comfort.

    Think again. In the ON position, the fan runs continuously—even when the system is not cooling (or heating). Constant running uses more electricity. It can also add humidity to your home, costing even more. Use the thermostat’s AUTO setting instead. The fan will turn on only when the system produces conditioned air. In Florida’s climate, AUTO does not cause uncomfortable, extreme blasts of cold or hot air. Note, though, that some new systems have advanced variable-speed fans that allow continuous operation. Ask a professional for advice.

  • Washer

    Energy Myth #6 You have to wash clothes in hot water to kill germs.

    If you believe that, you’re wasting energy and money with every load—while fading colors and weakening fabric. Cold water together with laundry soap kills germs in dirty clothes. The hot water temperature is not high enough to kill more germs. Fact, not myth: Only 10% of the energy to wash clothes is used by the motor; 90% is water heating! Most detergents are designed for cold water. Use cold wash/cold rinse for all loads and cut your “hot waste” by 90%. See Tidings Tips for more temperature tips. Just remember: cold is cool.

  • AC

    Energy Myth #7 It uses more energy to cool a house after the thermostat has been off than it does to keep the AC running.

    This myth hangs on tenaciously, though it’s been proven false. You will definitely save energy and money - and reduce pollution—by turning off your air conditioner or setting the thermostat higher when you’re away from home. The AC system does not work any harder to cool when the house temperature is high. The bottom line: It costs more to keep an empty house cool. Turn the page for more facts, not myths, about air conditioning and your energy pocketbook.

  • Personal Energy Savings

    Energy Myth #8 My personal energy-saving efforts don’t make a difference.

    Not so. Think of what creates our beautiful, vast beaches: single grains of sand. Alone, we can’t stop pollution, fossil-fuel dependence, and natural-resource depletion. But even your smallest effort becomes HUGE when family, friends, and strangers join in. If each American home replaced one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, the yearly energy savings would equal $700 million, light 3 million homes and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Simple steps . . . super-sized results.

  • Ducts

    Energy Myth #9 Duct tape is good for sealing ducts.

    Duct tape has many great uses, but despite the name, it’s not good for sealing ducts. A leaky air duct system could send your energy bill through the roof. In fact, seven out of ten homes have leaks in their air ducts that can increase energy costs. Seal your ductwork using mastic duct sealant or a combination of mastic and mesh, pressure-sensitive foil tape. Sealing the leaks in the ductwork and around the air handler can significantly lower energy use.  To save both energy and money by sealing ductwork, call us or visit

  • Electronics and Ghost Power

    Energy Myth #10 Appliances and electronics don’t use energy when turned off.

    Appliances draw energy for “standby power” even when off. This sneaky energy use has spooky names—vampire power, phantom loads, ghost power—but the cost is real. Ghost power is everywhere in your home: electronics that have a remote, a sleep mode, or a power-pack plug; battery chargers; appliances with lighted dials or clocks. They can use up to 5% of home energy use when supposedly off. Unplugging is the only solution, made easy with power strips. To banish the phantoms, just flip the switch.

  • Dishwasher Energy

    Energy Myth #11 Washing dishes by hand uses less energy than running a dishwasher.

    You’ll like this myth-buster: A dishwasher saves energy, water, and time! To maximize dishwasher savings, scrape plates instead of rinsing them and turn off the heat-dry feature. If your old dishwasher doesn’t allow this, consider a new Energy Star model. You will save an estimated $40 per year, reduce pollution, and get cleaner dishes. Compared to handwashing, an Energy Star dishwasher can save $430 in water and energy costs over its life.

  • CFL Light Bulbs

    Energy Myth #12 CFLs aren’t as bright as incandescents.

    Definitely false. CFLs offer a range of brightness, indicated right on the packaging. Choosing a bulb starts with wattage (energy consumed). For example, a 13–15 watt CFL is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent. Then check for color. Kelvin (K) is the scientific measure of color temperature, but color descriptions are easy and clear. “Warm/soft white” is yellowish, like an incandescent (2700–3000K). “Cool/bright white” is whiter or bluish (3500–4100K). “Natural/daylight” is brightest (5000–6000K). With today’s CFLs, you can get the light you want, while using 75% less energy!

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