Energy Saving Tips that Are Best Ignored

Everyone is interested in saving money and energy. Unfortunately, some of those old energy tips we all learned back in the 70s and again in the 90s are best ignored since they don’t save energy in all. In some cases, they actually make things worse.

“If it’s yellow, let it mellow” is one outdated piece of energy advice that’s best ignored. Back in the 1970s, old toilets used between 5-7 gallons of water per flush which is why it made sense to flush about every third time. Contemporary toilets from 1992 onwards use 1.6 gallon per flush. Letting the yellow mellow these days often results in a toilet overflow.

Like wise, the old “brick in the toilet” strategy for reducing the flush water is no longer sensible advice either. Newer toilets won’t work properly with less water and as far as the older toilets, bricks can disintegrate over time and damage the plumbing. If you have an older toilet, dropping a weighted plastic water bottle into the tank is a better option.

Here’s some other energy saving tips that are best ignored.

Route your dryer vent indoors during the winter. I first learned this piece of advice in the 70s as a way to lower our winter energy use. What I discovered instead is that all that extra moisture led to damaged paint, warped doors, and mildewy walls. A better energy savings strategy is to replace your exterior dryer vent cover with one that is leak-resistant.

Reverse ceiling fans during winter. We all know that running ceiling fans during the summer helps circulate the air in our homes and make us feel cooler. Studies now show that reversing the ceiling fans in the winter doesn’t do anything except make the room feel drafty while increasing our power bill too.

Closing hot air registers in unused rooms. On the days we use our fireplace insert to heat our home, closing doors and registers helps contain the heat to the parts of the house we are using. This piece of advice however does not work when your home is being heated with a central gas or electric furnace. Studies from the Lawrence Berkeley National Libraries demonstrated that energy use actually increases when registers are closed due to all that hot air leaking out from the ducts.

Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature 24 hours a day uses less energy than turning it down at night. My gas company still recommends this practice which is a bunch of hooey as our family discovered. The first year we ignored the advice and turned our thermostat down to 50 degrees at night and back to 68 during the day, our gas bill dropped by a whopping 30%.

While some of these tips may have done some good in the 70s, today’s contemporary homes are already energy efficient. While following these energy saving tips may seem the right thing to do, in the end they actually don’t save any energy at all.

More by this contributor:

5 home repair strategies that won’t strain your budget.
Rooftop maintenance tasks for the homeowner.
Is my fireplace safe to use?

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