11 Myths About Saving Energy at Home

Updated: Jan. 07, 2024

Reap the rewards of energy savings by ignoring these myths.

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Man adjusting the thermostat
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“Turn the A/C Off When You Leave for Lower Energy Bills”

Shutting off your thermostat when you leave for the day might seem like a smart idea, but it could actually be costing you more money. According to National Property Inspectors, “When you come back home and turn your system back on, your AC unit will have to work overtime to cool your house back down, negating any energy savings you’ve accrued.” Leave it on when you’re gone, just on a higher setting — say, 78 F instead of 72 F.

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“You Should Close the Vents in Rooms You Don’t Use”

The air handler (or blower) in a residential heating-and-cooling system design moves a certain amount of air whether you leave all the vents open or choose to close some of them. So, closing registers may actually reduce the total amount of air moved by the blower, which reduces its efficiency.

Wondering if it’s time for a new furnace? Our experts offer advice to help you decide.

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“Replacing Old Windows is the Best Way to Save on Energy Bills”

Window replacement costs a lot. While it’s true that new windows are more energy-efficient, make your home more comfortable, and can raise the resale value, they won’t pay for themselves in energy savings.

In fact, they tend to save the least energy per dollar invested because of their great expense.

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ceiling fan

“Ceiling Fans Cool the Room”

It feels like fans cool the room, but really, they don’t. They do cool your skin, however, as long as the air temperature stays below 90 degrees.

Ceiling fans make you feel more comfortable (so you may ultimately require less air conditioning) but they don’t cool the air itself. In fact, the ceiling fan motor actually generates heat!

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Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock

“Turning Down the Thermostat When You Don’t Need It Doesn’t Save Much Energy”

Utility companies have done studies that show five- to eight-percent energy savings when the thermostat was turned back five to eight degrees at night and during the day when no one was home.

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“When It’s Cold Outside, Heavy Curtains or Drapes Help Save Energy”

While you may feel fewer drafts when you’re near the window, the air between the cold window and the fabric cools and falls faster than the air in the rest of the room.

So, if you like the look of cozy, heavy window coverings, consider it an aesthetic choice and not an energy-saving measure.

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CHUYKO SERGEY/Shutterstock

“Turn Something off and It Stops Using Electricity”

Easy enough, right? Except it doesn’t really work that way. The problem is “vampire” electricity use, which is when something is plugged in and switched “off” and continues to draw electricity to power their latent systems and sensors.

This is true for microwaves, TVs, space heaters, coffeemakers, phone chargers, computers and more. Whenever possible, it’s best to pull the plug to save energy. Here’s how to save $100 or more by finding and fixing energy vampires.

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Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

“The More You Turn up the Thermostat, the Faster Your House Will Heat Up”

It just doesn’t work that way. Jacking up the thermostat wastes energy. Set your thermostat for the temperature at which you’re comfortable, and leave it there.

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“Use Electric Space Heaters to Make Some Rooms Warmer”

This practice actually costs you more! The electricity required to fire up those space heaters comes at a high price. Open doors promote heating efficiency by evenly heating the space.

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room air conditioner in garage

“HVAC Equipment Accounts for the Majority of Energy Use”

Great Eastern Energy says that HVAC equipment only accounts for 48 percent of home energy consumption. Your appliances, computers, gaming systems and televisions consume the majority of the energy in your home.

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Shutterstock / 4 PM production

“Hand Washing Dishes Is More Energy Efficient”

On a per-load basis, the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) says that hand-washing dishes uses more hot water than a dishwasher, which means more energy cost to run the water heater. Today’s modern appliances have energy efficiencies that do save you money.