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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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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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