“What great news, thanks!” Barbara wrote in an email after CUB notified her. “I will use the new LED bulb in our family room lamp. It’s the first light we turn on in the evening and the last to be turned off before bedtime!”
LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours—roughly 40 times the lifespan of an incandescent bulb. Barbara won the prize after her name was randomly drawn from among more than 1,500 people who took CUB’s quiz. Check out the answers:
1. Ceiling fans cool the temperature of a room: Myth!
Fans don’t actually change the temperature of a room. Instead, they simply move air around to create a breeze, making people feel cooler. Since you can’t feel the breeze if you’re not in the room, there’s no reason to waste electricity by leaving the fan running.
2. Turning off your electronics means they’re not using any electricity: Myth!
Most of your devices still draw power even when they’re turned off. This is called “vampire power,” and it can account for up to 20 percent of your power bill. Go a step further and unplug energy-sucking devices like computers, TVs and DVD players, and consider purchasing a smart power strip.
3. Lowering the thermostat below the desired temperature will NOT cool your home any faster: Truth!
Turning your thermostat to a super low temperature won’t cool your house any faster, it will just make the fan run longer, increasing your electricity bill.
4. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs are dangerous to your health: Myth.
Like computer screens, thermostats, and the thermometers moms once commonly stuck in the mouths of their children, Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs do contain mercury—about the amount that could fit on the head of a pin. A bulb being used in the house does not emit mercury or vapors. If a CFL does break, don’t panic, just take precautions outlined in CUB’s Guide to Energy Efficiency Lighting. (An official at Troy, New York’s Lighting Research Center once told Popular Mechanics that the bulbs pose little risk, unless “you wipe up mercury [without gloves] and then lick your hand.”) Because CFLs are so efficient, they use less electricity and thus help reduce a major national health concern: pollution from coal-fired power plants. If you’re still uneasy about CFLs, consider LED bulbs. They’re more expensive, but contain no mercury and cut your power bill even more.
5. You should turn the air conditioner off when you’re not home, even if it’s just for 15 minutes: Truth!
Although it’s true that turning off your air conditioner or computer when you leave might make it work a little harder when you return, the electricity saved by not running such items more than makes up for those few minutes of hard work.
For more good information about your energy bills, check out CUB Energy Saver, our free online service that has shown consumers how to cut their natural gas and electric bills by $100 a year.