Gas & Electricity

Energy savings myths debunked

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Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

In this guide, we hope to dispel some of the most common energy savings myths, so that you can separate fact from fiction.

There’s no sign of the ongoing energy crisis subsiding and as we head into the winter months, more and more households will be looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption in a bid to cut the cost of their bills.

However, with so many tips and tricks out there, it’s difficult to know what advice to follow. When searching for energy-saving tips, you should be aware that it’s also very common to stumble across energy-savings myths.

So, in an effort to save you time researching what works and what doesn’t, we’ve put together this guide which aims to debunk common energy-savings myths.

1. I'll save money by putting on the dishwasher or the washing machine later in the evening

Not always.

This is true if you have a night saver meter or day/night meter. In this case, it’ll be up to 50% cheaper to run your appliances after 12am until 9am in summertime and 11pm until 8am in wintertime.

If you have a smart meter installed AND have signed up to a smart tariff, you can also save money by running your appliances outside the peak time of 5pm to 7pm. 

However, if you have a normal standard meter or have a smart meter which you have not activated then there is absolutely no cost saving to running your appliances at a later time as you’re charged the same rate for your electricity 24/7. 

You will, however, help reduce demand on the grid by using appliances outside peak times.  

There are of course potential fire risks to running appliances late at night, so consider this and weigh up the risk/cost benefits for yourself.

2. It’s better to keep the immersion on 24/7?

Some people think it’s best to keep the immersion on 24/7 so that you’re never heating fully cold water.

This is a big no-no.

Only have the immersion on for when you need it. Otherwise, you’re just increasing your bills. 

3. The tumble dryer is the most expensive appliance to run

The tumble dryer isn’t cheap to run. However in most homes, the electric shower or even the oven is what’s going to cost you the most overall as you’ll use these appliances way more. 

For example, if you have a small family you might use the tumble dryer for three hours a week (two 1.5-hour loads). That will cost you €3.87 a week. Potentially less if you have a smart meter or night saver meter and use it at off-peak times.

However, if all four people in your home take one five-minute electric shower a day you’re looking at a cost of €9.52 a week. If your shower uses the immersion for hot water, your cost won't be that much cheaper. 

Using the oven for a Sunday roast and maybe three more hours of oven cooking during the week will cost you €4.32 a week. 

So as you can see, the tumble dryer, while very expensive to run, isn’t the main appliance to be concerned about.  

Activity

Energy of appliance

Cost inc. VAT at 9%*

Based on

Immersion

3 kW

€2.58

2 hours to fully heat 120-litre tank (around a day's hot water)

Tumble dryer

3 kW

€1.29

One hour of drying

Cooking (oven/electric)

2.5 kW

€1.08

One hour of cooking

Electric shower

9.5 kW

€0.34

One 5-min shower

*based on Electric Ireland's standard 24-hour urban rate of 0.43 per kWh inc. Vat as of October 2022. Rounding has been applied to all figures. Cheaper rates at certain times of the day may be available for those with smart meters or night saver meters. 

4. Turning on and off the lights too regularly will just increase costs

There's a misconception among many Irish people that turning on and off appliances regularly uses excess electricity and that it’s better to keep appliances on if you’re going to return a short time later. 

This is wrong - especially when it comes to newer and more modern devices. While it does take an extra burst of energy to turn a light on, for example, this only lasts a fraction of a section. 

So if you're leaving the room, even if only for a few minutes, you'll save money by turning off the lights, the TV or the portable heater etc.

5. It’s expensive to run the dishwasher - you should wash by hand instead

Modern dishwashers are highly efficient. 

A mid-range dishwasher can do a full 65º cycle for around 1.5 units of electricity or 65 cents at today’s elevated prices (even less if you run at night and have a night saver meter or smart meter).  

And it uses around half the water you’d use if you were washing your dishes by hand. So it’s good for the environment too. 

Just make sure you only turn it on when you have a full load to do. And there is no need to pre-rinse (you’re wasting water and besides, dishwasher tablets actually clean better when there is some dirt to stick to).   

6. I’ll save money by moving to a smart meter

This really depends. 

Smart meters are a great idea and have been rolled out successfully in many other countries. 

They allow your meter to be read remotely (so no more widely inaccurate estimated bills) and they offer the potential to give you much more data and insight into your energy usage.

However, some of the smart tariffs on offer with smart meters aren’t great value and could actually end up costing you more money. 

Read our other guide here for more info on smart meters.

7. Quicker clothes washes are always cheaper

Up to 80% of the energy your washing machines uses is for heating the water (same with your dishwasher). 

So quicker washes which have to heat up the water more quickly could actually cost you more - especially if you’re washing at 40º or 60º. 

If your washing machine or dishwasher has an Eco setting, it’s cheaper to use this (however as this setting heats the water extra slowly in order to save money, it’ll usually take longer to complete). 

8. Once the appliance is turned off, it’s not using energy

Appliances should also be unplugged.

If an appliance is turned off but is left plugged in, it can still draw a small amount of electricity (often called standby electricity or ‘vampire’ electricity). 

The issue isn’t as bad as it used to be, as modern appliances are way more economical. However, computers and game consoles should definitely be unplugged each night. And if you’re away for a few days, unplug your kitchen appliances, TV and your router too.  

You can learn how to read the energy label on your household appliances.

9. Solar panels only work in summer 

With energy prices at record levels and climate change an ever-pressing threat, more and more people are looking into ways to reduce their bills as well as their carbon footprint. 

This is why solar panels are an excellent idea for those who can afford the upfront cost. 

However many people are still under the impression that solar panels will only work in summer. 

Solar panels work by converting the sun’s light/energy (not its heat) into electricity. So they can work on cool, clear winter days as well. 

Also, it doesn't need to be fully sunny for the panels to work. Panels can also work on cloudy days, particularly in summer. As long as there is some daylight, they can work.  

There are grants available for installing solar panels while households can now also be paid for any excess renewable electricity that they feed back into the grid under the new micro-generation scheme.

See here for more info on the micro-generation scheme

Discover our top energy-saving tips

Now that you're familiar with the main energy-saving myths, you may be interested in learning about what tips do actually work and ways you can cut the cost of your energy bills.

You can stay up to date with all our energy-related news by reading our blog and guide pages. 

Switch and save 

Despite rising energy prices, switching to a cheaper energy supplier is still worthwhile. Most suppliers are still offering competitive discounts for an entire year to those who switch. 

You can compare tariffs and deals from all of Ireland’s energy suppliers on bonkers.ie in just a few clicks. With our energy comparison tool, switching has never been easier!

Discover all you need to know about the energy comparison and switching process in our Quickstart Guide.

Don't forget to try out our other comparison tools for broadbandinsurance, and banking products to see what else you could save money on. 

Let's hear from you

Do you know of any other energy-savings myths? If so, we'd love to hear from you! Get in touch with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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