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5 Myths about Saving on Energy Costs

5 Myths about Saving on Energy Costs

American residential energy costs have jumped from less than eight cents per kWh at the turn of the century to around 12 cents per kWh this year. With rates on the rise, it’s unsurprising that households want to cut their energy bills. But how do you do it? Read on to learn about common energy savings myths and how to really slash your utility bills.

1. Computer Screen Savers Save Energy

For decades, computer manufacturers have led us to believe that their screen saver modes saved energy. However, the colorful displays take power to run just like any other program.

To really save energy, disable the screen saver and set your computer to enter sleep mode after 10 to 15 minutes of inactivity. As a further energy-saving measure, set your monitor to turn off at the same interval.

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Just remember that sleep mode isn’t a long-term solution. Leave your monitor and computer in this mode overnight and you’ll waste 12 watts of power. Remember to shut your computer down when you finish using it, or set it up to automatically shut down after it sits idle for a set time.

2. When Devices Are Off They Don’t Draw Power

This one is only true if you unplug your gadgets as well. Otherwise your devices will continue to draw what’s called vampire power. This is particularly true of appliances which enter stand-by mode, like televisions and microwaves. It’s no small matter either. Studies suggest “vampire power” accounts for 25 percent of American power bills.

To avoid vampire power draining your wallet, simply unplug each appliance when it’s not in use. Alternatively you could invest in a power strip which cleverly cuts power when you flick its switch.

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3. Closing the Air Conditioning Vent Saves Energy

It seems logical that closing air conditioning vents in unoccupied rooms would cut your electricity prices. However, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs actually found the opposite is true. Energy is consumed at the unit, rather than the vents, so closing your vents simply means the air works harder to escape. During winter, the extra air pressure can reduce air flow across the heat exchange coil and cause damaging compressor problems. In summer, pressurized cold air can create the kind of humid environment that’s the ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Rather than closing vents, consider whether you really need to use your air conditioner. If you’re only using one room, adjusting your clothing or running a portable heater or fan may be enough to create a comfortable environment.

4. Using an Electric Space Heater is Economical

In some cases, it could makes sense to heat just the room you’re in rather than your entire house, but if you’re using power-hungry space heaters this often isn’t the case. That’s especially true if your home is powered by natural gas. Electricity costs between four and ten times more than gas, so running a couple of small heaters can actually cost as much as warming an entire home with gas.

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Rather than using energy-guzzling space heaters, instead try lowering your thermostat a degree or two. You’ll barely notice the change, but it’ll make a significant difference to your power bill. If you do start to feel the chill, bringing out your winter woollies can warm you without piling onto your power bill.

5. Leaving a Light On Uses Less Power Than Switching It Off and On

This common myth assumes that a significant power draw occurs every time a light is switched on. While it was once true that turning lights on and off shortened their lifespan, in modern times the practice has no effect at all.

The best way to cut your energy costs is to simply turn lights off as you leave the room. A traditional light bulb uses 60 watts of energy each hour. This bulb consumes a kilowatt of energy every hour it’s on. That kilowatt costs around 12 cents. It sounds like a small amount, but if you leave just that single light bulb on for 16 hours a day all year you’ll pay $43.80. Leave multiple lights on and the numbers really start to add up.

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If you are forgetful, it’s worth investing in an auto-sensor which will turn off your lights once you leave the room and turn them back on when you return.

So forget the myths and focus on the facts to cut your energy costs.

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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