Here are 5 energy saving myths debunked, and some tips on what actually saves energy.
*75% of UK adults care about the environment, according to The Office of National Statistics, so even if you're on one of our Unlimited Energy packages, you can keep an eye on your energy use to keep your carbon emissions down. About 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from households, according to the Energy Saving Trust, so why not do your bit?
MYTH 1: It’s better to leave the heating on all day at a lower temperature
Verdict: Not even a little bit better.
On the surface this seems sensible. Using your heating a little bit all the time rather than heating the whole house at once sounds like it could be more energy efficient. It’s not.
There is a lot of debate, but the Energy Saving Trust (the experts!) recommend only turning on the heating when you need it. This is especially true if you rent and aren't sure about your insulation situation. Heat loss through dodgy windows or weird walls makes heating all the time a bad idea!
If you're going to be out of the house at work or uni, heating all the time makes even less sense. Nobody's home, but the heating's on? Nah. Don’t do it.
Set your heating to come on when you're actually going to need it, e.g.
A bit when you're getting dressed
A bit when you get home in the evening
A bit midday if you're going to be in.
If you have a spare room or somewhere nobody goes often, you should be able to turn the radiator off and switch it back on when you need it to save even more energy. Keep the door to this room closed, though, so you don't lose heat into the cold zone.
The World Health Organisation says to keep your room temperature between 18 - 21 degrees. If you usually have it higher, bringing it down by 1 degree can use up to 10% less energy. and you probably won't feel the difference.
MYTH 2: Vampire power
Verdict: Uhhh...sort of true?
Okay, so there's some truth to this, and tons of misinformation too. A lot of sources say leaving phone charges and other devices plugged in constantly uses a low level of energy - calling them energy vampires, or vampire power.
Phone chargers don't seem to be the main culprit here, despite the buzz. It's true that chargers use a small amount of energy, but it really is a small amount.
In the states, How To Geek needed to plug in six chargers at the same time to read a measurable amount of energy. Here in the UK, The Energy Saving Trust agree that it's a tiny amount per charger, making a small saving over the year if you unplugged everything when you're not charging.
The real energy vampires are appliances left on standby. Games consoles have gotten a lot of flack recently, but TVs are a more common problem.
The BBC shared figures from British Gas earlier this year that said games consoles and microwaves on standby were the most expensive vampire devices, but British Gas' numbers have been disputed. For example, All games consoles are under a voluntary agreement to meet EU standards for their maximum power use on standby, so the numbers from British Gas didn't seem to add up.
While the numbers might not be 100%, The Energy Saving Trust agrees that turning appliances of all kinds off, rather than leaving them on standby, is a key way to reduce your electricity usage. The TV especially!
98% of people admit to leaving the TV on standby at all times, with many people thinking that the red button on the remote turns it off entirely. It doesn't. It just turns it to standby. Turn your TV off entirely when you're not in the house to make a super easy impact on your electricity use.
Beware of vampires, but don't let smartphones take all the blame.
Switch off at the plug when you're not in the room. That little clock or red light might seem innocent, but it's a little more sinister than that! 🧛
MYTH 3: Flicking the light switch uses electricity, so you should just leave lights on
Verdict: Nope. Big fat no.
This seems to be one of the most common energy saving myths. Even with old fashioned, super-inefficient incandescent bulbs (the ones that got really hot) this was never true. If you're leaving a room for more than a minute or two, turning the lights off has always been the way to go.
Quickly flicking your light switch on and off can mess up your lightbulbs though, so it's still not a great idea.
The Energy Saving trust says that 11% of domestic energy is used on lighting, so changing your habits could make a difference to your carbon footprint.
To save even more energy, grab an LED bulb the next time a light goes out. They're the most efficient you can buy, so they're great for your bills and the planet. You can even get colour changing ones. That has nothing to do with energy saving, but they make unbeatable aesthetic mood lighting.
MYTH 4: Turning up your thermostat makes you warmer faster
Central heating warms your house to whatever temperature is on the thermostat. This is true whether you have it set to 20 degrees or 50 degrees. Your central heating system will pump out heat, using energy, until the air in the room meets the thermostat's temperature setting.
If you want to get to 20 degrees, setting your thermostat to 25 wouldn't get you there faster. Your heating system will just work away for longer, using more energy, to get to 25 degrees.
You could waste a lot less energy just by keeping your thermostat to the temperature you actually want 🤯
MYTH 5: Wash smaller loads of laundry - it saves energy
Verdict: No it doesn't.
Most of the energy used by your washing machine or tumble dryer is to generate heat for the air or water. Washing and drying lots of smaller loads means more heat and energy than fewer big loads, and the Energy Saving Trust recommends avoiding smaller loads whenever possible.
To actually save energy on your laundry, try some of these instead:
Fill the machine to the right level. You should be able to fit a hand comfortably in the top of your drum of your washing machine. This means it's full, but your clothes can still move around to get good and soapy. Overfilled machines don't wash as well, and you might have to wash clothes again. That's a waste of energy.
Get a laundry buddy. If you've got a housemate on a similar schedule, why not wash your laundry together? The drum will always be full, you'll use less energy, and you won't need to wait for the machine to be free. Just buy a couple of laundry nets so there's no confusion over what's what. Sorted.
Wash at 30°, not 40°. This tiny change can use up to half as much energy, and your clothes will be just as clean. All detergents are now designed to defeat dirty at 30, and if you use the eco setting on your machine it could be even less. Eco cycles use less water, meaning less energy needed to heat it. If your clothes really need a clean - gym stuff or muddy festival gear - you can stick them on a different cycle, but for day-to-day stuff, an eco wash at 30 degrees is all you need.
Tumble dry on cool, even if it takes longer to get things dry. Most of the energy a tumble dryer uses comes from the heat, not the spinning. A longer, cooler cycle is better for the environment (and your clothes!)
Fancy more info on how to handle your energy bills?
- Check out our guide to sorting your utility bills
- Debunk some energy efficiency myths
- Save energy with short shower power
- How to keep the heat in and save energy in winter
- Find some easy ways to save energy at home
There's a lot of information out there, and you can't do everything all the time, but even choosing one change and sticking to it could cut your energy use and carbon emissions, lower your bills and leave you with a warm fuzzy glow.