The nine greatest misconceptions about saving energy
All of us would like to use less electricity, gas and heating oil – because it saves money and is good for the environment. But what’s the best way to do it? Several incorrect assumptions and erroneous advice are making the rounds. We’ve taken a look at nine of the most widespread fallacies.
1. The latest generation of consumer electronics appliances use less and less energy
Yes, it’s true that today’s technology uses energy more efficiently, and a modern LED TV does indeed consume less than an old TV set with a cathode ray tube. But this relative reduction in consumption is more than compensated for by the enormous increase in size. With huge screens and turbo graphics cards, these televisions end up consuming more energy than their predecessors. So make sure you pay particular attention to the EU energy label.
2. We should always replace old appliances
This is certainly true in the case of refrigerators, where you can save several hundred kilowatt hours of electricity each year. With washing machines and dishwashers, however, the savings are much smaller, so these appliances should only be replaced when they actually break down. If they’re more than 8 to10 years old, it’s not worth having them repaired.
3. It’s better to wash dishes by hand
Only if you’re feeling nostalgic or want to protect your best gold-trimmed china! Otherwise, a dishwasher is the significantly cheaper option, in terms of both energy and water consumption.
4. As a tenant, I can’t really influence my heating bill
You can’t insulate your building, of course – that’s the landlord’s job. But you could lower the room temperature, for example: every degree lower means a 6 percent saving on your heating bill. And using tape or excluders to seal draughty doors and windows can lower your bill by up to 15 percent.
5. Laundry should be dried on the washing line, not in the tumble dryer
This is only true if your washing line or rotary airer is located on your balcony or in the garden. People who dry their laundry on a clothes horse inside their homes need to open doors and windows to get rid of the dampness – and they lose warm air in the process. In the final energy balance, this makes even an old tumble dryer cheaper to run.
6. You should always use the „eco“ programme on washing machines and dishwashers
Although it can save a lot of electricity, overuse of this programme can also create hygiene problems. In order to kill bacteria, you should run your washing machine at a temperature of least 40 degrees (or preferably 60 degrees) at regular intervals, and your dishwasher at 70 degrees.
7. You can’t create a cosy atmosphere with energy-saving lighting
This certainly applies to old energy-saving lamps, which generate light with a high proportion of green. But new LED and halogen lamps create a much more attractive light. Pay attention to the light colour: for living areas, it should be 2,700 Kelvin.
8. Insulating houses fosters the growth of mould and mildew
Mould and mildew are caused by lack of ventilation – not by insulation. Energy-efficient renovations diminish air exchange in rooms because damp air can no longer automatically escape through gaps and cracks. This means that people living in insulated houses must regularly ventilate their rooms. Occupants are advised to ventilate three or four times a day (by fully opening their windows for around five minutes).
9. Tips on how to save energy are well meant but not particularly useful
That depends on how strictly you implement them. If you can save as little as 50 cents a day with simple measures such as turning down the heating or choosing not to pre-heat the oven, this adds up to 180 euros over the course of a single year. With just small changes in behaviour, you can cut your electricity bill by up to 50 percent.