116,211,092.  That’s how many households there are within the United States alone.  Fortunately, for the majority of these households, electricity is a common utility, something used daily by members of the household to maintain a standard of living and power modern comforts like heating and air, appliances, entertainment, and more.

That being said, electricity and energy in general is one of those things that — as long as it works — we don’t really care how it works.  That being said, there are many myths about electricity out there in the world. Some exist because technology has changed over the years — others because there’s a little bit of truth involved, but it has been misinterpreted or grown to something else over the years.

Myths on Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a great way to lower your electric bill by reducing your energy consumption.  There are many things that you can do in your home (or business) to be more energy efficient. However, sometimes some of the things we’ve been told will save us energy actually use more energy.

Set your thermometer higher — it will heat your house or room faster.

When you need to heat up a room, there really isn’t a good way to get the job done quickly. If you decide to try and set the thermostat at a higher temperature (for example, 76 degrees when you want it to be 73), you will only end up wasting energy! Set your thermostat to your desired temperature and be patient. No matter what you do, it will take time for the room to heat up.

To avoid this situation, try not to turn your thermostat off for long periods of time. This will also save you a lot of energy because you won’t need to use much to get the space back up to a more comfortable temperature.

Leave the fans on when you leave your house. It will keep your space nice and cool.

Fans don’t cool the air in your home. They move the air around. Therefore, if no one is in the house or room, keeping those fans on is a waste of energy.

I just bought an energy efficient air conditioner/furnace. This means that my energy consumption is automatically reduced or lowered.

While energy efficient appliances are proven to reduce the amount of electricity used in a household, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will automatically see those savings. Why? Well, in many cases, those appliances are installed incorrectly. This means that a portion of the heat or cooling generated is actually going to waste. Avoid this and take advantage of those energy savings by hiring someone you trust to install the appliance for you.

Close the vent! You’ll save more energy.

Many people think that closing vents in unused areas of their house will help to reduce energy consumption. This simply isn’t true. The fact is closing a vent only redirects that air to other areas of the household. It also creates pressure on the fan that pushes the air through the system, forcing it to work harder. The truth is, the energy consumed by the system happens at the unit and is determined by how you set that unit.

Washing dishes by hand saves both energy and water.

Washing dishes in the sink actually uses more hot water compared to a dishwasher (per load). There are many dishwashers on the market that are extremely energy efficient. They use less electricity and water, which helps to lower costs.

Stand-by mode uses less energy than turning things on and off.

If you are not using an appliance, turn it off. This is the ultimate rule when it comes to energy efficiency and savings. Stand-by mode actually uses a lot of energy. This is especially common for items like computers, printers, and other electronic devices. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to turn off your computer if you will be on vacation or away from home for long periods of time.

Myths on Energy Deregulation

Energy deregulation is a major way for consumers to save money on their electricity bills. While energy deregulation is not currently available in all states, it is an important element consumers need to understand in order to benefit from potential savings.

Ultimately, energy deregulation gives the consumer the ability to choose their retail electricity provider or electricity supplier. This is the entity or organization that handles the supply of electricity (as well as many customer service elements). Energy deregulation also creates competition in the energy market. This is because electricity providers compete for their customer’s business.  It forces electricity providers to keep their plans appealing and their rates low.

There are many myths regarding deregulation.  Here are a few:

Energy Deregulation only applies to people living in big cities.

This isn’t necessarily true!  Texas, setting the gold standard for deregulation in the United States, is 85% deregulated — this encompasses not only large cities like Houston, but smaller cities like Tyler and Carollton and most places in between.

Electricity suppliers won’t have better products/services than my utility.

Energy deregulation actually gives electricity suppliers the freedom to offer products and services that truly benefit the customer. Many offer smart thermostats, small business packages or plans, clean energy plans, and other energy efficiency products like solar panel installation. An electric retail supplier must remain competitive in order to stay in business. Therefore, as a consumer, you’ll often find that these organizations will have what you are looking for, and more.

It’s more expensive to switch to an electricity provider.

When deregulation is implemented well (as it is in Texas, for example), switching to an electricity provider can be cheaper.  This is particularly true for areas where many electricity providers are established. The more electricity providers there are, the more competition is generated. When there is competition, customers will select the organization that provides the best rates and services. It is in the electricity provider’s best interest to provide those elements in order to retain those customers.

There’s nothing I can do if I’m not happy with my electricity provider once I’ve made the switch. 

You have the option to switch to another electricity supplier if you are not happy with your current electricity supplier. The important thing to remember in this situation is your contract end date and if there are any fees associated with ending the contract early. All you need to do is inform your current provider that you want to switch to a different provider.  Alternatively, you can shop around for a new electric rate on Electric Choice and switch online — we’ll take care of everything for you.

Myths on the Cost of Electricity

A major concern for many energy consumers is the price of electricity. Questions like… how much will it cost to heat or cool my home? How can I save money every month? And, how do I decrease my energy consumption to save money?

Electric space heaters will save me more money.

It’s been proven that running multiple electric space heaters at the same time can cost the same as heating a household with a gas-powered system. This is primarily due to the cost of gas compared to the cost of electricity. In general, heating systems (electric or gas) are much more efficient and cheaper than a few space heaters.

Just leave the light on. It will cost less than turning it on and off.

Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs use more energy when they are left on (all the time) compared to when they are turned on and off.  Turning a light on and off will also save you money in bulbs. If a standard fluorescent bulb is left on all the time, it will burn for 4.3 years (38,000 hours).

However, if the bulb only burns for 12 hours a day, it will remain working for 6.6 years.

I just bought a brand new home. It MUST be energy efficient.

Just because a home was build in the past year or two doesn’t mean that it is more energy efficient than a home build ten years ago. A house’s energy efficiency isn’t really determined by age, but by construction and design. If you buy a newer home, keep in mind that there still might be opportunities for energy savings.

The time I use my dishwasher or washing machine (or other device that uses a lot of electricity) doesn’t impact my electricity bill. 

Many electricity suppliers and power companies offer discounts for using appliances at non-peak hours.  Non-peak hours represent the time of day when most people do not use a lot of electricity.  Typically, many companies will define their non-peak hours in the evening, starting at around 8:00 PM. Adjusting your schedule accordingly can result in significant electricity savings.

Do you run a business?  Seeing a lot of high, unexplained (or unjustified?) charges on your electric bill?  Call us at 800-974-3020 and we’d be happy to look to try to find some savings for you.

There’s nothing I can change about the way I consume electricity. I just can’t lower my bill! 

There’s always something you can do to consume less electricity — you just haven’t found it yet! Sometimes asking yourself questions is a great way to check in and see whether or not you’ve done enough to reduce your electricity bill.

Key Questions

  • Can I reduce the heat or air conditioning temperature in my home or business?
  • Are my windows sealed properly?
  • Is my home or business properly insulated?
  • Are my appliances old? Do they use a lot of energy?
  • Was my home constructed in a way that promotes air flow?
  • Do I really need that extra freezer in the garage?
  • Do we really need (2/3/4/5!) TVs?
  • Are my heating and cooling systems installed correctly?
  • Do I live in a location where I can install solar panels?
  • Am I using appliances during peak hours?
  • Do I leave electronic devices on all day?
  • Can I move to an area or region with much better electricity rates?
  • Is there another provider in my area with better rates?
  • Do I need all the lights on in my home or business 24/7 for security?

Asking yourself these important questions (and others) will help you to identify areas where you can find savings.

Happy Halloween 2016!