"Stupid" Energy Saving Tips

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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,214
SW Virginia
I came across this today and found it interesting. Thought I'd share. I definitely don't agree with No. 8. No. 2 was mentioned here lately. No. 7 has been seen floating around Hearth for a while as I recall.

From: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com...r&utm_campaign=green-building-advisor-eletter

The Top Ten List of stupid energy tips
Here’s my top ten list — common tips that show up repeatedly.

1. Fill your half-empty refrigerator or freezer with plastic bottles filled with water. This stupid tip will never save you enough energy to show up on your electric bill. Nevertheless, the advice is provided by the California Energy Commission, an electric utility called NV Energy, Avista Utilities, Wisconsin Public Service, Georgia Natural Gas, an electric utility called National Grid, Connecticut Light & Power, EnergyRight Solutions, and many others.

2. Clean the dust off your refrigerator’s heat-exchange coils. As I’ve noted before, researchers haven’t been able to measure any energy savings resulting from this measure. But a lack of data hasn’t stopped the following sources from advising homeowners to get out the vacuum cleaner: NV Energy, Connecticut Light & Power, and EnergyRight Solutions.

3. Schedule an annual furnace tune-up. As Michael Blasnik has shown, there is no evidence to support the idea that the cost of an annual furnace tune-up can ever be recouped by energy savings. This tip (often referred to as the “make-work-for-HVAC-techs” tip) is trumpeted by an electric utility called WE Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, a New Mexico electric utility called PNM, EnergyRight Solutions, and a utility named Alliant Energy.

4. Change your furnace filters monthly. Monthly? Really? Yes — according to Wisconsin Public Service and EnergyRight Solutions.

5. To reduce the rate of air leakage in your home, start by caulking around windows. Actually, the big leaks are in your attic and basement, not around your windows. That doesn’t stop many sources from offering the “caulk your windows” advice. Among the guilty are the
California Energy Commission
, NV Energy, WE Energies, the California Natural Resources Agency, Virginia Energy Sense, and a utility called NSTAR Electric & Gas. (The tip from NSTAR even includes a definition of the word “weatherize.” The site advises, “Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows.”)

6. Install foam gaskets under your electrical outlet covers. There are only two problems with the advice: electrical outlets aren’t a major air leakage point, and gaskets don’t stop air leaks at this location. These two small problems don’t prevent the following sources from providing the tip: the California Energy Commission, a gas utility called PSNC Energy, Alliant Energy, and CNN.

7. Run your ceiling fans backwards during the winter. No researcher has ever been able to show that this practice saves energy. This tip may even make you uncomfortable enough to turn up the thermostat, raising your energy bills. But the advice is provided by Duke Energy, Alabama Power, an electric utility called Xcel Energy, and a Sustainability blog on the University of Illinois at Chicago web site.

8. Run your air conditioner and ceiling fans simultaneously. According to a 1996 paper (“Are Energy Savings Due to Ceiling Fans Just Hot Air?”) by P. James, Jeffrey Sonne, R. Vieira, Danny Parker, and M. Anello, “Data from 386 surveyed Central Florida households suggests that although fans are used an average of 13.4 hours per day, no statistically valid difference can be observed in thermostat settings between households using fans and those without them.” In other words, homeowners who run their ceiling fans and air conditioners simultaneously would be better off if they turned off their ceiling fans. This bad advice is provided by WE Energies and a utility called PSE&G.

9. Locate your air conditioner condenser in the shade to keep it cool. This myth was debunked many years ago by researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center. Yet it still keeps cropping up, most recently in advice provided by PSNC Energy.

10. During the winter, close your curtains at night to save energy. When this advice is repeated, the authors usually fail to mention that you need a way to stop air from flowing between the curtain and the window — or else convection currents will sabotage your efforts to save energy. This incomplete tip is provided by many sources, including Connecticut Light & Power and the website of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
 

bmblank

Minister of Fire
Jan 17, 2013
698
Michigan
But come on, those Wall warts are drawing milliamps per day!
 

Slow1

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2008
2,677
Eastern MA
I would like to add my pet peave. The supposed vampire loads of wall warts are often touted as the evil energy hogs of a house. They're not.

I can't agree more. When I was on my extensive "kill-a-watt" kick I found that these loads (even with the older non-switching power supplies) make such a small percentage of the power used that they effectively don't matter.

However - exception to this is (as mentioned in another thread) TV and cable boxes that are actually running when folks think they are turned off - these really draw power. I don't have a TiVo type device here but I imagine keeping one running 24/7 is bound to become significant. So, the actual wall warts don't draw a whole lot, but some things plugged into them do even when not in use (poor designs in my opinion).
 

bmblank

Minister of Fire
Jan 17, 2013
698
Michigan
Curtains definitely work... As long as you have decent curtains and there isn't a convection current constantly rotating cool air around.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,771
SE PA
A lot of what people sense with curtains is lower radiant cooling making them warmer.
 
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fossil

Accidental Moderator
Sep 30, 2007
10,568
Bend, OR
Some of the things on that list make sense to me, some don't. In any case, whenever I see any sort of list by someone calling everyone else "stupid", I tend to pretty much ignore the arrogant bastard.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,771
SE PA
I'd recommend reading the full article and skimming the comments. The author has a lot of cred in the building science community.
 

fossil

Accidental Moderator
Sep 30, 2007
10,568
Bend, OR
I don't imagine the guy is "stupid". But why does he have to call a whole bunch of other people and organizations "stupid"? It's his attitude I have a problem with, not whatever it is he knows.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,214
SW Virginia
Above at least he calls the tips "stupid" not the ones that share them. (I didn't go back an review the article)
I have to admit I've provided some stupid advice here on occasion but I'm hoping that doesn't make me stupid.
 
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woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,771
SE PA
I think the author, self-described 'Energy Nerd' Martin Holladay, is honestly trying to educate folks with a free blog, and is a little fed up that a lot of other sources, mostly utility companies, are putting out a continuous noise of 'stupid' suggestions that don't work, wasting honest folks' time, energy and money.

He's written different versions of this post every year around this time, and he gets a little outspoken in the post (typical for a long-form blog) and maintains a civil comment thread.

His bio is former hippie in the energy eff and related business since the 70s, with a significant multi-author web presence widely considered the go-to source for best practice info.

Reminds me of Craig. <>
 
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Circus

Feeling the Heat
Jan 11, 2013
292
EC Wisconsin
These idea's aren't that bad, I've seen much stupider. "Solar air collectors for inside your window" go's beyond stupid, it's a ripoff.

When I draw the curtains the temperature in my room rises significantly.
Naughty, naughty

Run your ceiling fans backwards during the winter. No researcher has ever been able to show that this practice saves energy
Depends on ceiling height. A high ceiling is warmer than the floor. People live near floors.

the big leaks are in your attic and basement, not around your windows.
Ten minutes and $.50 of clear chalk between the moulding and an uneven wall lowers infiltration. Worth doing.

fill refrigerator with water bottles
fewer start cycles equals longer life.
 
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starfoxACEFOX

New Member
Jan 3, 2014
10
Fort Collins, CO
No. 2 wouldn't apply to newer refrigerator, ones with smaller condenser and uses fans. Would have to be clean, I have 4 husky and I get a lot of fur. I went without cleaning mine for 3 years one day I got error message saying refrigerator was overheating. It was because condenser was full of doggie fur. Because of that like any refrigerant base system, less heat moved longer it going to run.
 

Bret Chase

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
870
Maine
These idea's aren't that bad, I've seen much stupider. "Solar air collectors for inside your window" go's beyond stupid, it's a ripoff.
Ten minutes and $.50 of clear chalk between the moulding and an uneven wall lowers infiltration. Worth doing.
.

If you have wood windows... caulking around them is just about the most efficient way to rot out the sill, particularly in older houses. if you've got plastic or aluminum (They suck) windows.... knock yourself out....
 

DawsonBuck18

Member
Dec 8, 2013
12
Georgia
I live in Georgia. It may be 24 degrees right now but it gets very hot here in he summer. I have seven ceiling fans. Personally, I can tolerate the thermostat set to 78 in August when the fans are all running, otherwise I would have to set the thermostat to 74. It equates to significant savings in my all electric house.

Running the monster 72 inch ceiling fan located in my living room just in front of my stove insert this winter is moving heat up the stair case to my second floor somehow. I can verify this with my Kintrex infrared thermometer and I can see the cob webs on the stair case wall flap in the warm breeze when the ceiling fan is doing its thing. I'm a believer in celing fans :)
 

Circus

Feeling the Heat
Jan 11, 2013
292
EC Wisconsin
Circus said: ↑ These idea's aren't that bad, I've seen much stupider. "Solar air collectors for inside your window" go's beyond stupid, it's a ripoff. Ten minutes and $.50 of clear chalk between the moulding and an uneven wall lowers infiltration. Worth doing. .

Bret Chase, Click to expand...If you have wood windows... caulking around them is just about the most efficient way to rot out the sill, particularly in older houses. if you've got plastic or aluminum (They suck) windows.... knock yourself out....

Caulk go's on the inside moulding/wall
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,680
Northern NH
I must admit I run my ceiling fan backwards in my office on occasion in winter. I have tray type ceiling that is about 10 feet high at the top of tray. Heat tends to collect in this space even on cold days. If I run the fan forwards, I get draft from the fan which cools me down due to increase in convective heat loss on my upper body. By running the fan backwards, the draft is far less noticable as the air hits the ceiling and spreads out horizontally across the tray picking up heated ari and reducings its velocity until it drops down the tray into the main room at a far lower velocity.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,214
SW Virginia
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,214
SW Virginia
I wouldn't have thought No.9 was stupid.
Same here.
Maybe its because condensers are convective devices and the radiation from the sun in insignificant comparatively. You could say the air is cooler in the shade but if the condenser fan is operating as it should the cooler shaded air would be quickly mixed with that from sunlit areas negating any benefit.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,771
SE PA
Same here.
Maybe its because condensers are convective devices and the radiation from the sun in insignificant comparatively. You could say the air is cooler in the shade but if the condenser fan is operating as it should the cooler shaded air would be quickly mixed with that from sunlit areas negating any benefit.

If you read down the comments, that's exactly right. If you had a fan blowing a gale right in your face, could you feel the difference whether the sun was shining on it or not?
 

flyingcow

Minister of Fire
Jun 4, 2008
2,549
northern-half of maine
I would like to add my pet peave. The supposed vampire loads of wall warts are often touted as the evil energy hogs of a house. They're not.


I wish someone could convince my wife of that. Maddening sometimes....cell phone charger. And puts it away, the nerve, cleaning up after me.
 

Bret Chase

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2013
870
Maine
Caulk go's on the inside moulding/wall

caulking is used, at least in my area, on the inside, for entirely different purpose. Caulks like Alex-Plus or S-W 950A are used to fill the gap between finish and the wall to provide a nice paint finish. There is NO consideration given to air sealing in this application. In my experience, the building envelope is closed from the outside, particularly in LEEDS certified structures. Also, in my experience, caulking around wood windows, on the outside, in a 20+ year old structure will do nothing more than make them rot.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
96,253
South Puget Sound, WA
I find the attitude of the writer somewhat condescending. At times the author appears to be grasping to make a point. Several of tips are partially stated or partial truths. For example, true that some insulated curtain installations are less effective than they could be. But, insulated curtains can work and the fact that you need to be aware of cold air spill doesn't negate their effectiveness. Running a ceiling fan backward can be very effective at breaking up heat stratification in high and cathedral ceilings in a draft free fashion. It doesn't make one uncomfortable unless the fan is maybe at high speed. And just because this person hasn't found research on the topic, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Overall this fellow lost me after the first 5 refutes due to his arrogance and nit picking to make a point.
 
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