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5 Myths about Home Energy Efficiency

1. If you want to save energy, the first thing you should do is weatherstrip your doors and caulk your windows. Not true. Your house has much bigger holes than those.

2. I live in the South (or another warm climate), so I spend more money cooling my house than heating it. Not so fast. What part of the South do you live in? Here in the Atlanta area where I live, almost everyone I talk to believes this myth, but the truth is the opposite. See the heating and cooling consumption numbers in my last post for confirmation. Talk to a home energy rater or energy auditor to find out, or just look at a year’s worth of your energy bills.

3. You shouldn’t seal up your house too tight. A house needs to breathe. Arrrrrgghh! No, people need to breathe. Make your house as tight as you possibly can, and then add intentional ventilation. Bring the air in from a place where you can get good air. Relying on a leaky house for ventilation makes no sense because some of that air you’re bringing in through those random leaks is being sucked through the dead rat in the attic. Do you really want that?!

4. It’s too expensive to make my home energy efficient. That depends. If you’re financing the improvements, it’s possible that you can actually save money immediately. When the energy savings are greater than the monthly payment, it’s a winner.

5. Replacing windows can cut your energy bills in half. Yeah, right. Then you put on the insulated vinyl siding and cut another third. Replace your AC and furnace to save half. Insulate your attic and save a quarter…By the time you’re done, the utility’s paying you! Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Heat loss & gain through windows typically makes up only 10 to 20% of your energy bills, so there’s no way you can cut your bills in half by replacing. Windows are rarely a cost-effective home energy efficiency improvement. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Granite countertops and hardwood floors aren’t cost-effective either. Just understand that window companies making claims like this are lying.


Allison A. Bailes III, PhD is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the founder of Energy Vanguard in Decatur, Georgia. He has a doctorate in physics and writes the Energy Vanguard Blog. He also has a book on building science coming out in the fall of 2022. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.


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