Green Myths

CORE ISSUES

Myth:  In the larger scheme of energy conservation one person can't make that much of a difference!

Truth:  As with many other myths this one has some truth to it.  If you look at how much you can save as one individual it may not add up to one dollar per day.  However, if everyone at UNMC also did that little amount, by the time you multiply it by the total number of people and by the number of operating days in a year, you will easily see the tens of thousands of dollars saved annually.

Myth:  Energy conservation means I'm going to be uncomfortable!

Truth:  Energy conservation doesn’t always equal turning the thermostat down to 55 degrees and wearing multiple sweaters. A more thoughtful approach focuses on reducing energy waste. Industry experts estimate that as much as 10-15% of energy used in a facility is wasted. We’re going after the waste and there is a lot to be saved just by reducing waste behind the scenes without having to make people uncomfortable.

INCANDESCENT OR CFL?

Myth:  It takes more energy to start up a fluorescent light than it does to run the lamp for several minutes.

Truth:  It is true that fluorescent lamps draw an inrush current that is five times greater than the operating current. However, the initial surge of a rapid start lamp lasts for only 1/120th of a second. So, you have to turn the lamp off for only one second to save the same amount of energy used to start it up again.

Myth:  I should wait for all my incandescent bulbs to burn out before replacing them with low-energy fluorescents.

Truth:  You'd be wasting a lot of money and energy. You can actually save money by tossing a new 60-watt incandescent and replacing it with a fluorescent.  The money you'd save on your electric bill with the CFL would more than make up for the cost of both bulbs.

Myth:  CFL Bulbs are too expensive.

Truth: CFLs may cost more at the checkout, but they last seven to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs, thus paying for themselves in one to two years. This is why local businesses almost all use fluorescent lights. In addition, they use a quarter of the electricity of an incandescent bulb. Depending on the wattage, one CFL bulb can represent $15 to $25 in energy savings over its lifetime.

Myth:  CFL bulbs don't emit the same kind of light as incandescent bulbs.

Truth:  CFLs have undergone tremendous changes to enhance their quality of light and to match the type of light emitted by incandescent bulbs. CFLs are available in a huge range of light colors - from yellowish to bluish-white, depending on your preference. Although there is not a labeling standard in place to help reveal the tone of the CFL, lower Kelvin temperatures (2,700 to 3,000) produce a "redder" light, similar to incandescent bulbs, while higher Kelvin temperatures (5,000 to 6,500) produce a more "blue" or intense light (best for task lighting).

Myth:  CFL bulbs are not as bright as regular light bulbs.

Truth:  CFLs are just as bright as incandescent bulbs, but it is imperative the consumer match up the equivalent lumens ratings. Replacing a 100W bulb with a 13W CFL won't give off the same amount of light. You will need a 23W CFL to produce the equivalent. The labeling on CFL packages makes it easy to translate the wattages.

Myth:  It is expensive and difficult to dispose of CFL bulbs safely.

Truth:  In the state of Nebraska, CFL bulbs can be disposed of in household trash. The Environmental Protection Agency requests that used bulbs be sealed in a plastic bag. Use care not to break the bulb; always install and remove by turning the base. However, since recycling is the more preferred method of disposal, communities are working to expand their recycling efforts. If you live in Douglas or Sarpy county, CFLs can be dropped off at Under the Sink (402-444-SINK) for no charge, or you can check with your local retailer.

Myth:  CFL bulbs contain mercury, which can be harmful to the environment and pose a health risk.

Truth:  While CFLs do contain mercury, the amount in each bulb does not exceed the recommended limits for safe exposure. There are 5 milligrams of mercury in one CFL, about the amount that would cover the tip of a ball point pen, and only 1/5 the amount in a watch battery. If bulbs are used correctly and disposed of according to state laws, there should be no threat of mercury exposure. Environmental groups, who strongly support CFL use, have stated they would not promote these bulbs if they posed a health risk.

Myth:  CFL bulbs don't fit in table lamps.

Truth:  If this is the case with your lamp, inexpensive harp extenders can be purchased at your local hardware store. Extenders widen and lengthen the lamp shade brace surrounding the CFL bulb.

- The information about CFL bulbs adopted from OPPD.

TURN IT ON AND OFF OR JUST LEAVE IT ON?

Myth:  Leaving a light on uses less energy than turning it off and on several times.

Truth:  Leaving an incandescent or fluorescent lamp on uses more energy than turning it on and off as needed.

Myth:  Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature day and night uses less energy than turning it down at night and heating your room up again in the morning.

Truth:  It takes less energy to warm up a cold room 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 room will warm up.

Truth:  Setting the thermostat all the way up only wastes energy and increases your heating costs.

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. Many computers now have energy saving "sleep" features that save energy when the computer is not being used.

Myth:  Turning computers off-and-on shortens the life of the computer!

Truth:  When you think about it, the "life of a computer" has nothing to do with how long it will operate. It has to do with when it becomes obsolete.  Turning off computers at the end of the day vs. leaving them on 24/7 will actually extend the time when replacement will be operationally required (10 years of "on" time spread out over 15 years or more).

Myth:  Turning lights off and on shortens the life of the bulb!

Truth:  Technically, this may be true, however, bulb life is not the real issue. The real issue is how soon you have to replace the bulb. A light that is left on 24/7 will have a longer burn time than one that is turned off when not needed.  But, because the light is being turned off, the burn time is spread out over a longer period. Which means that the replacement time is greatly extended.

Myth:  When my appliance or electronic device is turned off, it’s truly off.

Truth:  Most appliances or electronic devices still use energy when the switch is turned off. It’s called a vampire load.

WATER

Myth:  Bottled water is safer than tap water.

Truth:  Tap water is subject to stricter government standards than bottled water.

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