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10 common energy myths busted

It isn’t always easy having everyone on the same page when you’re trying to save energy and reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

Not everyone sees the benefits of being more energy efficient – and that often comes down to not being fully informed. Over the years certain myths have arisen, myths that still misguide the actions of some people.

If you’re struggling to get your colleagues to adopt more energy efficient behaviours, we asked our team of advisors to share some of the myths they still come across in organisations today, and to explain why they are just myths… so that you are armed with the facts.

Myth 1 – “Solar panels are no good in winter – and they certainly shouldn’t be used in Scotland”

This is a cracking one to start with and definitely one of the most frequent comments we hear. Well, newsflash, did you know that Iceland, that has barely 30 minutes of sun a day in December, uses solar power? Even on Scotland’s worst days, we enjoy more sun than that. As long as your panels aren’t covered in snow, you will produce power all year round. Take a look at what Highland Farm Cottages did – and if that has piqued your interest, you can read our quick guide to solar PV here.

Myth 2 – “Most heat escapes through windows”

Surprisingly, this isn’t the case. But a lot of people believe this to be true. In fact, the majority of the heat disappearing from your premises is escaping through the walls, and any gaps around your windows and doors. A high proportion will also escape through your roof. Your windows account for around 10% of heat loss. This is why insulation is so important.

Myth 3 – “Use a screensaver on your computer to save energy when you’re not around”

Do people still use screensavers? They used to be one of the first fun things you could personalise when you bought a new computer. But a lot of us now realise that keeping the screen on and having a fancy animation is actually wasting energy. Go to your computer settings and investigate the power-saving options. You can customise these to help save energy when you’re not using the device.

Myth 4 – “Phone and laptop chargers don’t use energy when plugged in if they’re not connected to a device”

Guess what? That’s not true. They do. And just consider how many chargers you have at your place of work – phones, laptops, even cordless power tools. It all adds up. It’s good practice to switch everything off when not in use – it also helps extend the life of the chargers themselves.

Myth 5 – “Turning lights on and off uses more electricity than leaving them on”

This is a myth that has been doing the rounds for years and it is no more true now than it was then. If you’re leaving a room, get into the habit of turning the light off. Turning the light back on when you return will use less electricity than leaving the light on while you’ve been out of the room. Use our free stickers and run a switch-off campaign for your staff.

Myth 6 – “The light from LEDs isn’t as good as a ‘normal’ lamp”

This comment is usually followed by ‘…and they’re too expensive’. What is true is that they are more expensive than a traditional 100w bulb. But – and it’s a big but – they can last up to 20 years in certain conditions. So, pound for pound, they are cheaper. But, what about the quality of the light? It’s fair to say the early LEDs didn’t provide the ‘right’ sort of light, but technology is always evolving and so many businesses are now making the switch, because it’s an easy win when it comes to being more energy efficient. Don’t take our word for it – click here to hear about a tourist attraction that shaved £2,000 from its energy bills by making the switch.

Myth 7 – “If I turn up the thermostat, the room will heat up more quickly”

If you’re getting the hang of this, you’ll know that’s not true. Say you like to have your office at 20 degrees. You’ve just started work on a cold day, so you turn on the heating and crank it up to 25 degrees to heat the room quicker. What will happen is it will take the same length of time as it would do normally to reach 20 degrees, but when it reaches 20, it will continue to raise the temperature up to 25. So, essentially, you have achieved nothing, other than using unnecessary energy to heat the room warmer than you want it. In a case like this, it’s best to install a programmable thermostat. You could even go ‘smart’ and have a system you can operate from your phone.

Myth 8 – “It will work out cheaper if I keep the heating on low all day”

Probably not. If you have good insulation, your premises will store heat effectively even when you turn the heating off. So rather than waiting until it’s home time to turn it off, get into the habit – or use a programmable thermostat as mentioned above – to switch the heating off an hour or so before the end of the working day. When timed right, your staff won’t notice any difference, and you’ll be saving a few extra pounds.

Myth 9 – “Air source heat pumps can’t work in cold weather”

They do – may we direct you to our quick guide to heat pumps.

Myth 10 – “It’s best to have a central heating system”

Is it? Who says? OK, we’re starting to get a bit pernickety now. But if you are going to have a central heating system, you need to use it in the most effective way. There is no point in having every room in your premises heated up at the same time – if half of the rooms are empty. This is particularly important for hotels and guest houses where occupation rates are frequently less than 100%. One thing to consider is fitting – and then using – thermostatic radiator valves. These will offer individual control of each radiator, so you can turn them off when the room isn’t being used. It’s all about being smart

So, there you go. Ten myths busted. If there are any comments you frequently hear that you would like to know the truth about, let us know.

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