There are so many myths circulating about the downside of adding energy-efficient features to the average home. While we all know such products can help to make our homes a little greener, and they may cut energy bills along with consumption, we seen to labor under several misconceptions about just how energy efficiency is accomplished and what will be gained in the process. Here are a few common myths you may have heard, debunked for your reading pleasure.
- All you need is an energy-efficient HVAC system. Oh, if only the machines could operate and maintain themselves! Unfortunately, installing an energy-efficient furnace, AC unit, and programmable thermostat will do you little good if you fail to use them appropriately. First, you need to make sure you purchase the right equipment for your home, which is to say, units that are properly sized for your structure and adequate for your heating and cooling needs. But from there the onus is on you to schedule your thermostat accordingly to ensure that optimum energy efficiency is achieved, not to mention schedule regular services for inspections and maintenance.
- It takes more energy to turn electronics on and off. Tsk, tsk. While it’s true that there have been great advances in technology over the last several decades, including the invention of energy-efficient light bulbs, computers, televisions, and more, the truth is that any time you leave electronics on, even in sleep mode, they’re drawing more energy than they would if they were powered down. And contrary to popular belief, turning them back on does not draw more energy than leaving them on indefinitely.
- Energy-efficient products cost more. This is only half true. While you might look at a CFL and an incandescent light bulb and clearly note that the former is more expensive, what you’re failing to see is the bigger picture. Sure a CFL will cost you four bucks while an old-school incandescent is only a dollar, for example. But what you may not realize is that a CFL can last ten times as long (so the four dollars you spent equates to $10 worth of incandescent bulbs) and it draws only 1/3rd of the energy required for a comparable incandescent. So while you will pay a little more up-front for energy-efficient products, you stand to save a lot more over time.
- Energy upgrades bring no return on investment. Again, there is only a modicum of truth here. While you probably won’t see a commensurate monetary return when you sell a home that features energy-efficient upgrades, what you will discover is that more buyers are interested in a home that is equipped to save them money on their monthly utility bills. So you can use your upgrades as a selling point to increase interest in your property, perhaps allowing you to sell your home more quickly, for the asking price, or even start a bidding war. In short, it’s worth it.
- Extra insulation keeps cold air out. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. Insulation is better equipped to keep warm air in than cold air out, so even though you might not have to perform rooftop unit preparation for cooler weather like commercial interests, that doesn’t mean you can afford to avoid what’s happening on the top of your house just because you have ample insulation. You need to make sure that vents, seams, and other areas of potential ingress are properly sealed so that the insulation has the best opportunity to perform its intended function. A home energy audit can help you to find any leaks so that you can nip this problem in the bud.