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Energy-use myths exposed

Myth: Leaving a light on uses less energy than turning it off and on several times.
Truth: Leaving an incandescent light on uses more energy than turning it on and off as needed. If you're using a compact fluorescent light, it should be left on if it will be needed again within 15 minutes. Switching CFLs on and off frequently shortens their lives.

Myth: Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature day and night uses less energy than turning it down at night and heating your home up again in the morning.
Truth: It takes less energy to warm up a cold home in the morning than it does to maintain a constant temperature throughout the night.

Myth: The higher you set your heater's thermostat, the faster your home will warm up.
Truth: It will take the same amount of time for the temperature to reach 70 degrees whether the thermostat is set at 70 or 90 degrees. Setting the thermostat all the way up only wastes energy and increases your heating costs.

Myth: Compact fluorescent lights are those glaring, humming, flickering tubes seen in some offices.
Truth: There's a whole new generation of compact fluorescent light bulbs that are suited for home use. They screw into the same light bulb socket and produce the same quality of light as an incandescent bulb. A CFL uses 70 percent less electricity and lasts up to 10 times longer than an incandescent light bulb.

Myth: It uses less energy to boil water if you start with hot water from the tap.
Truth: It essentially uses the same amount of energy (and costs essentially the same amount of money) whether you use hot or cold water. If you use hot water, you've already paid to heat the water in the water heater.

Myth: It is more energy efficient to leave your computer running when not in use.
Truth: Any time you can turn off your computer it will save energy. However, turning the computer off and on several times a day may cause excessive wear and shorten its life. Many computers now have energy-saving "sleep" features that save energy when the computer is not being used.

Myth: Cold water from the tap will freeze into ice cubes faster than hot water.
Truth: Actually, hot water freezes faster than cold water because it evaporates, leaving 25 percent less water to freeze.

Myth: Setting your air-conditioner thermostat to its lowest setting when you start it will cool your home faster.
Truth: This won't cool your home any faster, it'll just use more energy.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Updated: Aug. 2, 2006
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