Anthesis was asked by HuffPost to come up with some common energy saving myths along with how to actually save energy, in an attempt to provide more clarity.
Now that the days are drawing in and winter’s on its way, it seems an appropriate time to share our top tips:
Myth: LED bulbs are too expensive and the colour of the light is cold
This is a hangover from the early days of LEDs when the majority of LED lights were a bluer colour than incandescent bulbs. LED technology has rapidly evolved and continues to do so. It is now possible to buy LEDs in a range of colour temperatures and brightness levels to fit the majority of existing light fittings. When purchasing an LED, look for a colour rendering index number of between 80 and 100, a colour temperature of 2700K or an LED described of “warm white”.
LEDs have also reduced in price hugely over the years. It is true they are marginally more expensive than compact fluorescent or halogen, but only at the point of sale. Over their lifetime they will save many times more the additional cost. For example, a halogen spotlight in your ceiling will probably be consuming 50 watts, whereas an LED replacement will consume 5 watts. The LED bulb might cost £5 to buy but over a year will only cost £1.28 to run compared to £12.80 for a halogen bulb. This assumes a 14p pence per kWh unit price and that over the year the bulb is used for five hours a day on average.
Finally, LEDs have a lifetime of 50,000 hours compared to only 1,000 hours for a halogen. So really, which bulb is more expensive? Not the LED.
Myth: If it is cold you should turn your TRV setting up to maximum
A TRV is a thermostatic radiator valve. This means it is a device for turning the radiator on or off depending on the temperature of the space around it. The setting on the TRV determines what temperature you want to heat the space to.
It is recommended to set your TRV to three in order to achieve 18-20 degrees, this means once a temperature of 20 degrees is reached in the room the TRV turns off the radiator. Setting the TRV to four means the radiator is switched off at 20-22 degrees and setting it to five means that the TRV will not turn the radiator off no matter how warm the space. So if you are cold make small adjustments to the TRV - up by 0.5, and reassess in an hour or two. Large knee-jerk adjustments such as turning the TRV up to five will not speed up how fast the room warms up it will only mean the TRV does not turn the radiator off at the temperature you are comfortable, the room will overheat and you’ll waste energy.
To improve the operation of radiators and help them keep you warm make sure no furniture or curtains are blocking the radiator from the room, keep the fins free of dust and use a radiator reflector behind the radiator.
Myth: Leaving heating/hot water on constantly uses less energy than controlling it on a timer
This is a common misconception from the electric industry (and even here it is usually not true) whereby the initial energy required to turn something on is more than the energy required to run it for a few hours. Hence turning it on and off uses more energy than leaving the item running.
This is not the case in almost all other situations – if your heating is on it is using more energy than if it were off. As having the temperature higher in the home means more heat is being lost to outside. The energy used to warm up your home after the heating has been off for a few hours is less than would have been used keeping it warm. Imagine boiling an egg for breakfast in a pan then boiling that same pan of water in the evening. This uses much less energy than heating the pan all day. So it is crucial to set your heating and hot water timers to run for the least amount of time possible. Usually an hour or two before you arrive home/wakeup until an hour or two before you leave/go to bed.
Myth: Combi boilers should be set to their maximum temperature setting
If you have a modern combi boiler (a boiler without a hot water storage tank) and it’s controlled by a thermostat you could save a lot of energy by turning your boiler temperature down. The body of your boiler is likely to have two control knobs, one with a picture of a tap, the other with a picture of a radiator. The one with the tap is for your hot water for showers, sinks etc. and should be set to suit your preference. The knob with a radiator picture controls the temperature of the water in your radiators and it should be adjusted as low as you can comfortably go. This will change through the year as in mid-winter the radiator temperature will have to be warmer than in spring/autumn. The lower you can go the more efficient your boiler will operate – it’s like the efficiency difference of driving a car at 100mph for one minute then stopping for a minute as opposed to a nice steady 50mph. So adjusting this knob on a weekly/monthly basis will pay big dividends – your energy bill will go down as your boiler will be operating more efficiently but also your boiler will last years longer and your home will be a more comfortable, consistent temperature.