Moneywise busts five top energy-saving myths

Bulb and pound notes

Many of us are guilty of making token gestures toward saving energy but a lot of us aren't even getting these efforts right.

Here, we reveal the truth – with a little help from The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) - about five common energy-saving myths we often get suckered by.

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Myth 1. Computer screensavers save energy: No, they don't. They're just another programme used by your laptop, desktop or smartphone that consumes energy. Switching off your computer (or the monitor at least on your desktop) is by far the most effective way to save energy and cut your bill.

Myth 2. TVs, laptops and phone chargers don't use electricity when plugged in but not in use: Wrong again. They drain electricity even when idle or on standby mode at a cost to the average household of £86 a year. In fact, seven out of 10 households leave electrical items on standby, with 38% admitting they do so all the time, according to research by uSwitch.

If you're a bit lazy when it comes to unplugging your gadgets, you could invest in remote-controlled sockets. So-called 'smart' sockets connect with your smartphone so you can turn off anything plugged in to them in one fell swoop. They're widely available from retailers including Amazon and Maplin – the Bye Bye Standby Starter Kit (£11.99) or the Energenie pack of four remote-controlled sockets (£29.99), for example.

Myth 3. There's nothing you can do to cut the energy your fridge, freezer, washing machine or dishwasher uses: Nope, not true either. Adjusting the settings by not using the coldest or hottest ones will save money. As will closing the door of the fridge or freezer as quickly as you can, which reduces the amount of warm air that gets in that subsequently needs cooling. 

Similarly, using the eco setting on your washing machine or dishwasher will help by reducing the energy needed to get the water piping hot.

Myth 4. LED light bulbs will cost you more: False. In fact, an LED bulb lasts around 50 times longer than a traditional light bulb. DECC says switching to LEDS could save you 80% on your energy bills. Each one costs around £9.30 and will last five and a half years (if on constantly), while the cost of a series of traditional bulbs over that same amount of time would cost around £135 at today's prices.

Myth 5. It's a hassle to switch energy suppliers: Ok, this one is half myth, half reality. Switching has definitely become easier but it can still take around 45 minutes to arrange it all online and Citizens Advice says it can take up to three weeks for your accounts to be fully transferred. That said, says dual-fuel customers can save up to £383 by switching.

Now we've busted these five common myths, remember, if in doubt: switch it off, check the settings and always shop around for the best energy tariffs.

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Your Comments

Dear Sirs,
Myth 5. It's a hassle to switch energy suppliers is, in my experience, perfectly correct.   I transferred my gas and electricity from Scottish Power to British Gas through a collective purchase scheme, a reverse auction, run by on the 18th February, 2014.  
My electricity was transferred on the 22nd April, 2014 and my gas on the 11th May, 2014. 
I gave British Gas my meter readings on those two dates but Scottish Power would not accept them and insisted on using their own estimated readings, which were considerably higher than the true figures.   When I challenged Scottish Power they said that they would not change them because they were within their tolerance levels.   British Gas have accepted Scottish Power's figures.  
It was three weeks before my true electricity meter reading reached that estimated by Scottish Power and my gas meter reading on the 30th October, 2014, is still lower than the actual meter reading on the 11th May, 2014, over five and a half months earlier.  This means that Scottish Power have taken the money for electricity that I used during my first three weeks as a British Gas customer and gas that I used during the first five and a half months weeks as a British Gas customer.    In my opinion this is theft but if British Gas are happy to accept it then I do not see what I can do except to ensure that I am not charged twice for the same fuel use.

I too had exactly the same issue when I switched away from SP 2 years ago.

They read the meter 58 hours before the switch date. Then they had the audacity to add in about 2 weeks worth of my regular fuel use to make an estimated reading. Even if I had turned every appliance on for those 58 hours, I could never have used that much fuel.
Also the tariff that they charged for the final 5 weeks before the switch, was at their standard rate, even though, in accordance with their policy of ending a fixed tariff, I had informed them on exactly the correct date that I would be switching. This should have kept me on the fixed tariff until the switch completed.
So they were not only "stealing" from the new supplier, but they were also stealing from me.
But I stuck to my guns and had the correct readings accepted, but only after I threatened to inform Energywatch.
And the rebate that they owed me for being on a more expensive tariff for 5 weeks took a little longer, because they kept lying about refunding me: they said "the cheque was sent out on 23 October", then a week later when I emailed them to say that I hadn't got it, another person said that the refund had been cancelled on 24 October. When January arrived, and I was still being told different stories, I contacted Energywatch and the refund came in mid January.

I will NEVER deal with Scottish Power again!!!