You only need to follow industry news to know that consumer demand for energy- efficient homes is on a major upswing. In just the past ten years alone, the green housing market has grown from a 6 billion dollar industry to more than 87 billion. Fueled in large part by consumer demand, energy-efficient homes are expected to make up around 30% of all new single family home construction projects in 2016.
This is true for existing homes as well. In a recent nation-wide survey of homeowners, respondents were asked to rank 52 individual housing and community concerns on a scale of 1 to 10. The single biggest housing “wish” was higher energy efficiency; more than updated kitchens, more storage space, safer neighborhoods, affordability or even improved landlord responsiveness.
Given this reality, chances are high that today’s homeowners are looking to their HVAC guy for advice on what they can do to make their home more energy efficient. With changing rules and easy access to tons of misinformation, it’s time to dispel many of the common myths associated with energy efficiency. Here’s some thoughts you can share with your customers.
Myth 1. Adding energy-efficient features to a new home will significantly drive up its cost.
With the growing demand for green features, the cost of implementation has really come down for many energy-efficient products and designs. Adding natural skylights, including an energy-efficient HVAC system, building with energy-efficient windows and properly insulating (among other strategies) doesn’t have to impact the bottom line.
Myth 2. Buying an energy-efficient furnace or air-conditioner guarantees energy savings.
The furnace and air conditioner are just a part of the total HVAC system. If you connect that new certified energy-saving furnace to a leaky duct system, you’ll likely lose any efficiency increase you expect from the new unit. To get maximum efficiency out of a HE furnace or air conditioner, the system has to be properly installed – and that includes considerations for the entire system.
Myth 3. You’ll save more energy by leaving on lights, computer equipment and other electronic devices rather than frequently turning them on and off.
On is on. Off is off. A light bulb or computer doesn’t require any more energy during initial startup than it does to run. Best thing to do is to shut stuff off when you’re not using it.
Myth 4. Replacing old windows with new “energy-efficient” windows will reduce your energy bill by 30 percent or more.
Having a new home built with energy-efficient windows is a good idea, but for existing homes, any energy savings is relatively small – only about 10%. Studies show that the ROI for window upgrading is about 70 years. That’s compared to effective duct sealing with an ROI of about 3 years.
Myth 5. Sealing a home is a bad idea – it needs to “breath.”
Making the home as airtight as possible is actually a smart strategy. Not only does it help make the most out of the energy used to heat and cool the home, but it also keeps out contaminants that can negatively affect indoor air quality. Any concern over proper ventilation can be solved through the use of mechanical venting.
Myth 6. When trying to heat just one or two rooms in the house, it’s better to use individual space heaters than to turn on the central hearting system.
This seems logical, but in fact, space heaters use such a tremendous amount of energy that it is usually much more efficient to turn on central heating – even when only one or two rooms in the house will be used.
Myth 7. To save energy, it’s best to close the vents in rooms that are not being used.
Closing a vent doesn’t reduce the amount of heat generated by the furnace. It simply redirects the air to other rooms in the house. In fact, closing vents can put a strain on the overall HVAC system, resulting in more frequent repairs.
Myth 8. Energy Star appliances are always the better choice.
While an Energy Star certification is supposed to help consumers identify the most energy- efficient appliances, the fact is, the program is not very well regulated. An appliance manufacturer may label its product to be Energy Star rated when in fact, it is less efficient than claimed. The Energy Star system is good in concept, but consumers should do their homework when possible.
Myth 9. If you turn it off, it isn’t using energy.
Fact is, many appliances today remain on even when they are turned off. If the TV set comes on the instant the power button is pressed, then the set is actually drawing energy even while turned off. The same is true for most any electronic device with “instant on” capabilities. The best way to ensure the device is not drawing energy is to unplug it. Better yet, plug several devices into a power strip and then turn them all off at once by turning off the strip.
Myth 10. Cleaning the refrigerator coil improves its energy efficiency.
Sounds plausible, but tests show that clean or dusty makes little difference as far as energy consumption goes.
Myth 11. Using duct tape to duct seal leaks is a great way to save energy.
You probably know the answer to this one…but your customers may not have a clue. While sealing duct leaks is one of the best ways to save on energy, using duct tape to do the job is one of the worst ways to get the job done. The tape quickly dries, becomes brittle, falls off and becomes useless for this purpose. Save that duct tape for the next time you want to make a cheap wallet or perhaps even a prom dress.
Myth 12. The “sleep” mode of your computer is an energy-efficient way to leave your computer overnight.
Actually, the sleep mode just leaves your computer “quiet” and ready for instant action. In this mode, your computer is still drawing a lot of energy, waiting for your command. The best way to save energy with your computer is to completely shut it down at night.
(Bonus Myth) Speaking of computers, screen savers don’t save energy either. When they are running, your computer is in full operating mode and it’s using as much energy as when you are sneak watching the latest episode of Bachelorette off of NetFlix. An easy way to make sure you’re saving maximum energy with your computer, is to plug it into a power strip and turn the strip off when you’re done using it for the day.