Busting energy saving myths

It’s easy to fall victim to bad advice when you turn to the internet.It can be really frustrating when your research actually results in you spending more money! So we’ve been thinking of common energy-saving ‘tips’ we’ve heard (or even once believed ourselves) that are in fact total rubbish. Here are some myths we’d like to dispel:

Running electric convector heaters is cheaper than central heating

This one’s so common. In my student days, it was a recurring source of argument in my house! Really, it couldn’t be further from the truth. How much exactly each costs varies on your energy rate and relative efficiency of models, but it’s pretty much unheard of for a convector heater to be cheaper. A convector heater will cost upwards of 24p per hour, which is a lot if you add it up over a day! Even if you only need heating for a couple of hours, a radiator will be cheaper to heat up and run and will stay warm for longer once you switch it off. This applies both for heating one room, or several.

Painting radiators black makes them more efficient

The confusion here springs from the misconception that radiators emit most of their heat through radiation – the name is misleading! The theory is that dark colours radiate heat more efficiently. However, as radiators work mostly through convection (the transferral of warm energy to cooler places), the idea that painting them black would increase their output is nonsense. Painting your radiators is worth doing, as it helps to protect them, but don’t bother doing it for on this pretence.

LED bulbs are more expensive

No! One LED bulb lasts as long as eight CFLs and uses a quarter of the energy over its lifetime. They are far more efficient than traditional light bulbs, which give off most of their energy as heat. In fact, LEDs use 90% less energy. Sure, they’re a bit pricier to buy, but the initial investment will more than pay off in the savings you’ll make to your energy bill!

Electronics do not consume energy when they are switched off

Some ‘vampire devices’ use energy when plugged into the wall, even if the socket is turned off. Many of them use energy to run those red standby LEDS. Others suck energy even though they’re not on standby – one way to tell is if they stay warm even when they’ve been switched off. Where possible, unplug things like TV set boxes them from the wall when not in use to make sure. Similarly, chargers plugged into a computer or socket can also drain energy.

Double-glazing is the most cost-effective way to keep heat in your home

Ultimately, any see-through product is never going to be insulating and you will always lose considerable heat through your windows. We’re all bombarded with adverts inflating the benefits of double glazing. Whilst double glazing can help your home retain heat and muffle sound from outside, it’s really expensive for the small amount of difference they make to the temperature of your home. Obviously, the less heat gets wasted leaking out of windows and walls, the lower your energy bill will be. You might save upwards of £100 on your annual energy bill, but it costs thousands to install double glazing throughout a house. In short, you’ll never make back anything like the money you spend!

If you’re willing to consider alternatives, it would be much more worthwhile to spend the equivalent money on wall insulation. Walls prevent heat transfer far better than windows and this means a more comfortable home and lower bills.

Another option is secondary glazing. It’s cheap, easy to install yourself and can be removed on warm days when you don’t want your windows to trap heat!

The higher the temperature you set your thermostat, the quicker the room will heat up

This one’s simple – setting the temperature higher means it will actually just take longer to reach and therefore cost you more energy and money. Just set your heating to come on ten minutes or so before you get home so it’s had time to warm up by the time you get there.


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