Myth-Busters: Energy Efficiency Edition

April 04, 2018

In theory, making our homes more energy-efficient is simple: it means choosing lighting and appliances that require less energy. And, yet, energy-efficient technology is often a source of confusion – “Which LED bulb should I choose?” “Should I really update my appliance if it’s still in working condition?” “Does using a more efficient shower fixture necessarily mean I sacrifice my shower experience?” The Sponsors of Mass Save® – including Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil – are here to clear up some of this confusion by busting several common energy efficiency myths.


Myth #1: Tier 2 advanced power strips (APS) are the best option for advanced power strips, no matter what.

Truth: A Tier 2 APS monitors engagement and behavior, whereas a Tier 1 APS monitors only behavior. A Tier 2 APS goes the extra mile by monitoring engagement via a sensor. For example, if you leave the room with the TV left on for a period of time, a Tier 2 APS will cut power to the TV, turning it off. On the other hand, a Tier 1 APS would cut power to the TV and its supporting devices only once the TV is manually turned off, in turn eliminating just standby power loss and not active energy waste.

Although this added feature means a Tier 2 APS can often capture more energy savings, in some scenarios, you may be better off with a Tier 1 APS. Consider your office, for instance. Many people would not want their computers to shut off when they leave the room – there’s nothing fun about losing your work from a sudden computer shutdown! In this case, a Tier 1 APS is more appropriate: after you shut down your computer, a Tier 1 APS will recognize the device is turned off and reduce energy waste by cutting power to that outlet and supporting devices, like printers or speakers.

In summary, both types of advanced power strips are great options for limiting energy waste, but it’s important to consider the purpose for installing one to ensure you pick the model that best fits your needs.


Myth #2: Using energy-efficient shower fixtures will negatively affect your water pressure.

Truth: You don’t have to sacrifice performance when you invest in energy-efficient shower technology. A thermostatic shut-off valve (TSV) is an excellent example of a product that helps you save water and energy, yet doesn’t lower water pressure. A TSV, which can be installed on top of many existing showerheads, works by measuring the temperature of the water as the shower warms up. Once the water reaches an ideal temperature, the TSV slows the flow to a trickle until you hop in the shower and pull a cord to resume full flow. This process can save you gallons of hot water, plus all the energy that would have been required to heat that water.


Myth #3: If the packaging says “LED,” you’re buying the most energy-efficient light bulb option.

Truth: Not all LEDs are of equal quality. When it comes to energy efficiency, it’s best to always look for the blue sticker of approval from ENERGY STAR®. LEDs that are ENERGY STAR certified have met the highest criteria for lighting performance. These bulbs are tested to ensure they maintain a minimum rated life between 15,000 and 25,000 hours, distribute light broadly and evenly, and don’t flicker or fade with use when paired with appropriate fixtures. In comparison, non-certified LEDs can have lifetimes as low as 2,000 hours and may not even provide the same light output as the incandescent bulbs they are designed to replace. So, do be careful when choosing LEDs!


Myth #4: It’s better to stick with your old, working dehumidifier than to spend money upgrading to a newer unit.

Truth: Perhaps you purchased your dehumidifier 15 to 20 years ago and it still works to keep your house comfortable and dry. However, even if it’s still working, your dehumidifier is likely extremely inefficient and, therefore, is costing you much more to operate compared to a new, ENERGY STAR certified model. These ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers use 28% less energy than non-certified units. Yes, you must spend money on this new unit, but if you turn in your old unit at a Mass Save dehumidifier recycling event, you can receive a $30 rebate for participating. You can also receive a second rebate, also worth $30, for your purchase of a new ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifier. That’s potentially $60 in savings that the Sponsors of Mass Save offer you for upgrading to an energy-efficient dehumidifier! These savings, plus the reductions in your annual energy costs, make this a sound investment.


Myth #5: Your ENERGY STAR certified appliance from 2009 is as energy-efficient as today’s ENERGY STAR certified appliances.

Truth: The ENERGY STAR program has evolved year after year, with standards regularly being tightened for what products and appliances deserve that blue sticker. More rigorous than ever, it’s possible that your older appliance would not pass today’s standards. To increase your energy savings, consider upgrading your appliances to improved technology that is more energy-efficient. You can learn more about the ENERGY STAR program and find certified appliances at ENERGYSTAR.gov.


Myth #6: The bigger the room air conditioner I use, the faster my room will cool down and the colder it will be.

Truth: There’s a science to choosing the right room air conditioner for your home. You want to choose the correct cooling capacity, measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs)/hour, based on the room size. An oversized air conditioner will not only waste energy, but will also leave your room feeling damp, since it will cool the room faster than it can withdraw the humidity. Do your homework and check out this buying guide to find the unit that will offer you the best energy efficiency and cooling! As extra credit, you may be eligible for this $40 rebate on your purchase, thanks to the Sponsors of Mass Save. 


Feel like an expert now that these myths have been busted? Check out our energy efficiency quiz and test your knowledge!


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