Moneywise busts five top energy-saving myths

Published by Laura Whitcombe on 31 October 2014.
Last updated on 31 October 2014

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, uSwitch.com 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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