Are these energy-saving myths costing you money?

posted by in Saving money

Myths and rumours are funny things. Back in school, there were always odd stories circulating. My favourite being that Louise in class 4 had a zebra she visited in Scotland every weekend. She started that rumour herself, by the way.

Now the myths I hear are about energy-saving. Nowhere near as exciting, yet more likely to leave me out of pocket if I believe the wrong ones.

This is not ideal. So, I’m on the hunt to find mythical stories about energy-saving tips and tricks. Are they true or false?

Leaving the heating on low all day saves you money

False: I heard this rumour during my university days. That was the first time I had to worry about heating and staying warm. While discussing our freezing house, my housemate mentioned if we left the heating on all day, on a low setting, it’d be cheaper than if we kept turning it off and on when we needed it.

We didn’t question this, after all someone who seemed to have knowledge about bills was impressive, and on the heating went. The house was still cold but we were mildly warmer and we were saving money. Or so we thought.

Turns out, it doesn’t cost much for the heating to start up. It costs more to have the heating on all day when we’re not in and so don’t need it. Especially if you live in a poorly insulated home that allows all the heat to escape.

The best thing to do is use a timer and thermostat so you can have full control over your heating.

It uses more energy to switch lights off and on again

photo of light switch being switch on

If in doubt, turn it off. Even though this is a photo of someone switching something on.

False: This myth uses the same logic as the “leaving the heating on all day” rumour.

It’s been said that turning lights on and off each time you leave a room uses more energy if you’re going to return to the room shortly and turn them on again.

Again, not true. No extra energy is used to turn on a lightbulb. It’ll still cost less to turn the light off when you’re not using it.

Of course, this can vary a bit depending on which bulbs you use. To learn more, here’s a handy article about when to turn lights off and which bulbs will save the most money.

 

Using appliances at night is cheaper

False: Ah, this old chestnut. I’ve heard many times it’s cheaper to run your washing machine or other electrical appliances at night. I’m usually only in my house at night, so I don’t have a choice anyway. Is it saving me any money though?

Yes and no, depending on your meter. If you have an economy 7 or 10 meter, it’ll probably be cheaper for you to use energy at night.

If you have a normal meter, it won’t cost any different so you can use your washing machine to your hearts content during the day without feeling guilty.

If, like me, you have no idea what energy 7 or 10 meters look like, here’s a guide to what they are, how they work and how they look.

Energy-saving bulbs need specific light fittings

photo of light bulb

How is this light bulb on?

False: Own up, who made this up? The rumour that energy-saving bulbs need to have special light fittings is a bit ridiculous.

All you need to do is look at the bulb itself to discover energy-saving bulbs can be used in most normal lamps and lights.

Unless the majority of your lights are from certain shops that create lights to only fit their brand of light bulbs you’re probably alright… who would do such a thing anyway?

 

 

It’s difficult to switch energy suppliers

False: I’ll admit it, when it comes to switching things like bank accounts, energy suppliers and internet providers I tend to, well, not do it. Even I know this is silly. It’s simple to switch suppliers for most things. Especially as they tend to do all the work for you.

Switching energy supplier needn’t be a complicated process. There are even websites about to tell you where to find a better deal. It’s worth seeing if you’re able to save yourself some money.

My clothes won’t be clean at a 30 degree wash

False: This depends on how dirty your clothes are. If your glad rags are regularly subjected to a splattering of bolognaise or are prone to being covered in mud, it’s likely you’ll need to use a higher temperature to get rid of the stains.

However, it’s more economical to wash clothes that are worn but unstained at 30 degrees. It can also help reduce colour fading and helps clothes to last longer.

There are certain things you should continue to wash at a high temperature, like towels and bedding. This is to make sure all the bacteria have gone, leaving them thoroughly clean!

Computer screensavers use less energy

man sat at desk looking worried

Is this man worried about the energy usage of his screensaver?

False: Do screensavers still exist? I don’t think I’ve seen one for ten years. Back then, there were all sorts of complicated patterns to enjoy while you weren’t using your computer.

The question is: what’s the purpose of the screensaver? Is it a low power mode to help save money? Sadly not. The reality is screensavers don’t save us any money.

On reflection, this is obvious because it’s still a programme the computer is running. If the computer is on, it’s using energy.

Don’t fall prey to the hypnotising lure of screensavers. If you’re not using your computer for 20 minutes, turn off the monitor. Any longer, just turn off the whole thing and be done with it.

Chargers use electricity when the appliance isn’t connected

True: If your charger is plugged in and switched on, it’s likely to continue to use energy even if it’s not connected to whatever it’s supposed to be charging.

It’s also worth noting here, than many appliances only take a few hours to be fully charged, so if you leave something charging all night, it’ll end up wasting energy and money. Do yourself a favour and unplug it!

Turning the thermostat up will heat the house up faster

Close up photo of radiator themostat

Yep, that’s definitely a thermostat

False: If your house is cold, turning the thermostat up doesn’t mean it’s going to heat up any faster.

It takes the same amount of time for your boiler to heat up to any temperature. So, keep it on your regular setting and wait out the cold. It’s working as fast as it can and you’ll end up using more energy for the higher temperature.

If you’re regularly arriving home to an ice palace, why not set the timer so your house is toasty on your return?

 

 

Turning down my thermostat down won’t make a difference to my bills

False: Turning your thermostat down, even by one degree, can help to save you money on your energy bills. In fact, it could help you to save around £85 a year. Who knew one degree could make such a difference?

Do you agree or disagree with our myth-busting list? Have you got any energy saving myths to add?

Tags Saving money
  • Roger Bowen

    “Chargers use electricity when the appliance isn’t connected”
    Sorry to inform you that this is NOT true! If you disconnect the item (phone?) being charged, the current consumed by the plugtop convertor drops to zero. I’ve proved this through a plug-in ammeter.

    • Peter Jewell

      Maybe for a few very well-designed chargers, but most WILL use some current. Stick your ear against it: you’ll hear it humming, buzzing or whistling, regardless of whether anything is connected to the other side. These are losses caused by various physical effects of how the innards work; how much depends on the age, quality of the design, and quality of materials used. It may be a very small current, but you are still paying for that hum, buzz, or whistle!

  • Christine Clapton-Neill

    Sorry I disagree about leaving heating on a low setting during the day. Last year I left my heating on all day at 19 degrees and my bill was considerably reduced. In addition if you have a combi boiler it saves more wear on the boiler by leaving heating on according to the gas service engineer. My home was warm to come home to and meant I rarely turned my thermostat up. It all depends how energy efficient your home is and take advice from your gas and electricity supplier. British gas offer free loft insulation even if you sre not a customer. This is a government initiative.

  • Denis Rice

    screen savers were designed for the old CRT monitors because if you left a stationary picture on them for to long the image would burn on the screen this is why most screen savers had moving objects

  • David Gosnell

    Not sure about the energy-saving bulb / fittings assertion. Certainly anyone generally savvy doing their shopping at the discounters like Lidl will have found bayonet bulbs increasingly hard to locate, and it’s a pattern that does seem to be increasingly the case at other retailers. Of course bayonet energy-saving bulbs exist, but if this shift to screw fittings is the way things are going, it may well be for not that much longer.

    On a related note it is worth mentioning that LED bulbs may not be as cheap to run as they are advertised. Although they run at the overall lowest energy of any currently available technology, their built-in transformer can still get very hot, and if they are not well ventilated or have good heat-sinking, they won’t attain anywhere near the lifetime promised and prove to be rather a waste of the extra money spent on them.