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Myths & Tips

Committed to Saving You Money

As your local Touchstone Energy® Cooperative, we’re committed to helping you discover the do’s and don’ts of energy usage along with simple ways to conserve energy and save money on your electric bill. Discover why common myths about energy savings are debunked. Plus, explore heating & cooling tips, appliance tips and lighting tips to help fatten your wallet.

Myth: Programmable thermostats don't save that much energy.

Busted! Some people don’t think that turning your thermostat down either at night or while you’re gone makes much of a difference on your heating bill. The truth is, you'll always save money by turning your thermostat down or off, and the longer it's off the more you'll save. Lowering your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees in the winter for eight hours a day can save you up to 10% on your energy bill.


Myth: Turning the heat up higher will warm your home up more quickly.

Busted! The house will warm at the same rate no matter what the temperature; setting it higher only wastes energy.


Myth: Replacing old windows with new double-pane windows is an easy way to save money.

Busted! While upgraded windows can help reduce energy use over the long term, the substantial cost of new windows and installation means it could take longer to see a return on your investment. Unless you can afford the initial high costs, consider making smaller, more affordable updates to your home.


Myth: You should turn off your ceiling fans if you're using an air conditioner.

Busted! When used properly, ceiling fans can actually help save energy by taking some of the burden off of your AC unit. First, ensure that your fan is rotating in a counterclockwise direction. This will allow the fan to better distribute the cold air created by your AC. Once you have your fan spinning in the right direction, you can raise your thermostat by as much as four degrees without feeling a difference.


Myth: Installing foam gaskets in outlets won't save energy.

Busted! Electric outlets create small spaces in your home’s walls. These voids allow air to enter and exit your home, and if left unsealed, can drastically decrease the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems. Installing foam gaskets is an easy, affordable way to close these spaces. By limiting the amount of air entering and escaping your home, you’ll be able to save more on costs.


Myth: Every new home is energy efficient.

Busted! Not every newly built home is constructed with energy efficiency in mind. However, those who are looking to build a new, energy efficient home can partner with ENERGY STAR® contractors. These contractors create ENERGY STAR® certified houses that undergo inspections and testing to ensure the homes are up to the standards of the Environment Protection Agency. The best part? These homes can save the owner up to 30% on energy costs!


Myth: Hand washing dishes is more efficient than machine washing.

Busted! It might seem funny, but ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwashers actually use less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers get your dishes cleaner, quicker, create less air pollutants and can save up to 5,000 gallons of water a year. Note to mention, the time you’ll save will give you more time to relax!


Myth: Duct tape works great for insulating air ducts.

Busted! Don’t let the name fool you. Duct tape isn’t designed as an insulator and doesn’t hold up well over time, making it a poor choice for fixing up your home’s air ducts. Instead, try using mastic sealant or metal tape for insulating. For major improvement projects, consider working with a professional contractor.


Myth: Wrapping a water heater makes it work like new.

Busted! While wrapping your old water heater with an insulation blanket can help save between 4 – 9% in water heating costs, it cannot make an old or broken water heater work like new.Keep in mind that most water heaters usually last 10 – 15 years. If you’re having problems with a dated unit, consider buying a new, energy efficient electric water heater. The investment will save you money over the course of time.


Myth: CFL bulbs aren't that much better than traditional bulbs.

Busted! CFL bulbs can save you around $6 a year per bulb and up to $40 over the lifetime of a single bulb. They also can last up to six times longer and use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

Replace it!

Replacing your heating filter every 2 – 3 months helps keep dirt from building up in your system, which can obstruct airflow and thus use more energy.


Turn it down!

When you’re away or asleep, keep the temperature turned down to save on heating costs. Lowering the thermostat by just one degree can save up to 3% in heating costs.


Keep ‘em closed!

Close your blinds during the day to keep the sun from heating up your home.


Grow your savings!

Planting trees not only improve your landscaping and help the planet; they can also contribute to saving energy on your heating and cooling bill.


Keep ‘em clean!

Clean your vents and make sure ducts are sealed properly to improve efficiency by up to 20%.


Get smart!

Installing a smart thermostat is a small investment, but quickly turns to huge savings and a comfortable home.


Keep it sealed!

Prevent heat loss by sealing your attic door with gasketing or weatherstripping. Also, make sure it's insulated as up to 15% of a home's heat loss can be attributed to an improperly sealed attic entrance.


Program it!

A programmable thermostat allows you to more effectively heat and cool your home thus lowering utility bills.


Install them!

Installing foam gaskets is an easy, affordable way to close off electric outlets that allow air to enter and exit the home.


Circulate it!

Keep the air moving in your kitchen and bathroom by utilizing the exhaust fans. Remember to shut them off 20 minutes after you are done using them to avoid unnecessary costs.


Lighting Tips

Turn ‘em off!

It may seem like the obvious answer, but you might be surprised how much you can save just by turning off lights when they aren’t in use. Plus, save even more by using CFL or LED bulbs.


Utilize the sun!

Take advantage of renewable energy by using solar-powered outdoor lighting in your garden or along your sidewalk.


Switch ‘em out!

ENERGY STAR® qualified LED bulbs use less energy and can last up to 25 times longer than ordinary bulbs. Simply by replacing 15 of your home’s regular bulbs with ENERGY STAR®-qualified CFL or LED bulbs can save you up to $50 a year.


Upgrade!

Replacing old or damaged light fixtures can help you save money. Newer ENERGY STAR® models use less energy and many have useful features such as dimmers.


Time’s up!

Install timers to control your home's lights and ensure they turn off even if you forget.


Recycle them!

Properly recycling CFL bulbs keeps mercury out of our nation’s landfills. Contact a local waste collection agency or home improvement store to recycle your burned out CFLs.

Grill it up!

As the temperature starts to creep up, an easy (and tasty) way to keep your energy costs down is to make use of your outdoor grill.


Set a schedule!

More electricity is used between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. than any other time of day. Try using a timer on your dishwasher or clothes dryer to run outside of peak hours, or create a schedule so several appliances aren't running at the same time each day.


Wash ‘em up!

ENERGY STAR® dishwashers use less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers can save you up to 5,000 gallons of water a year!


Research repairs!

If you like your older appliance but it needs to be fixed, only pay for repairs if they cost less than half the price of a new appliance. Generally, you should replace any appliance that is more than eight years old.


Keep it cool!

Lowering the temperature on your water heater to 120° F can lead to hot savings.


Keep ‘em separated!

Drying your towels and heavy linens separately from your other clothes uses significantly less energy than drying them all together.


Air ‘em out!

After your dishwasher’s cycle is complete, open the dishwasher door and allow the dishes to air dry. This method uses considerably less energy.


Seal it up!

Check the seal on your refrigerator and make sure it’s airtight. If the seal is letting cold air escape, consider replacing the liner or purchasing a new ENERGY STAR® refrigerator.


Thaw it out!

Defrost your freezer and refrigerator regularly. Frost build up can greatly reduce a unit’s efficiency. Typically, frost should be kept under one quarter of an inch.

Turning off lights when they’re not in use may seem like an obvious tip, but don’t underestimate just how much you can save with the simple flip of a switch. Plus, save even more by using LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL bulbs). Use our handy CFL Savings Calculator to see just how much you could save by switching.

Take advantage of renewable energy by using solar-powered outdoor lighting in your garden or along your sidewalk.

Along with CFLs, LED bulbs are another great alternative to traditional light bulbs. ENERGY STAR® qualified LEDs use less energy and can last up to 25 times longer than ordinary bulbs.

Replacing old or damaged light fixtures can help you save. Newer ENERGY STAR® models use less energy and many have useful features like dimmers.

Install timers to control the lights in your house to ensure that your lights go off even if no one is home.

Avoid using a multi-bulb, overhead light fixture if possible. Instead, use a single-bulb lamp to help cut your energy costs.

Properly recycling CFLs keeps mercury out of landfills. Contact a local waste collection agency or home improvement store to recycle your burned out CFLs.

During the holiday season, there are more house fires than at any other time of the year. Be sure to check light strands for frayed wires or cracks, make sure there is a bulb in each socket and replace damaged strands. Use no more than three sets of standard lights per extension cord, and be sure your indoor lights don’t touch drapes, furniture or your carpet.