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Friend or Foe?

Posted on 24 October 2017

From fires to freezers, we’ve all heard plenty of so-called ‘tips’ to improve energy savings. However, it turns out that some of this advice can actually waste energy, your time or both!

So, let’s have a look at the advice that you might want to ignore.

Painting your radiator black

Unless you’re making a statement for Halloween, there really is no reason to paint your radiator black. The science we learned at school about dark surfaces helping to radiate heat is true, however not so relevant here.

Radiators do use radiative heat, but actually rely a lot more on convective heat, where heated air rises and cold air is drawn into the radiator nearer the bottom. The colour of your radiator has no bearing on this and more layers of paint can help to insulate it against emitting heat.

Why are radiators painted at all then? Mainly to protect them and for aesthetic purposes.

Avoid the dishwasher and wash crockery by hand

Dishwashers are often tarred with the same energy-intensity brush as tumble dryers, whereas actually, when full and loaded correctly, they can be more economical than hand washing your dishes in terms of both energy and your time. Also, only switching on the dishwasher when it’s full rather than only partially full, can save you up to £75 per year!

Mobile phones stop drawing energy once they’re charged

Many of us are guilty of leaving our chargers plugged in, possibly believing they will only take the energy that they need. However, once a phone is charged it’s still drawing energy, less energy, but not no energy. If the charger is plugged in, it tends to warm up and if it’s warm, it’s using energy.

Try to unplug your charger at the socket to reduce energy wastage.

A fireplace is an excellent source of warmth

As the clocks go back and these long, autumnal nights draw in, an open fire may seem like a wonderfully romantic and rustic way to heat a room, but is it the most economical? Unfortunately not. Fires need ventilation, which is great for you and your lungs, but not so good for fuel efficiency, as most of the heated air gets sucked up through the chimney.

If you only need to heat one room of your house at a time, individual thermostats on each radiator are a much better option.

Daylight Saving Time saves energy

There is an element of truth to this myth, actually.

Daylight saving time was pioneered by Germany in 1916 in a bid to conserve electricity. It was only a matter of weeks before the UK adopted the idea too and introduced British Summer time.

Initial research suggested that this measure saved about 1% of energy consumption, however, as air conditioning has become more widespread, the savings have been cancelled out by people trying to stay cool during the longer summer days. However, the tradition of moving the clocks forward in spring and backwards in autumn has remained.

A chest freezer belongs in an unheated garage

It can be a really convenient place to keep a big freezer, but because garages are rarely heated and insulated, the fluctuations in temperature throughout the year can actually damage your freezer and a damaged freezer, can be a less efficient freezer.

If you can keep your freezer indoors, where the temperature is more stable, it’s likely to increase the life span and efficiency of your freezer. Additionally, if you defrost your freezer regularly, you can save up to a further £100 per year.

So there are just a few energy myths debunked. We’d love to hear some of your energy saving advice. If you have some to share, please head over to our Facebook page and tell our community.

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