Although I usually only publish one blog a week, I can’t resist posting a rare Saturday blog to rail against bad advice to homeowners from the Federal government and a national green building organization.
On December 8, I received an e-newsletter, “Energy Newsbriefs,” a usually reliable weekly publication from the Washington State University Extension Energy Program Library. The newsletter advised me to check out “Heating and Cooling Your Home,” described as “four-page 2009 fact sheet for consumers from the Federal Trade Commission [that] assists the homeowner in making decisions about home heating and cooling systems which may need replacement.” So I did.
Published by the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, the document includes an unusually high number of energy-saving tips that won’t save any energy. Included in the brochure’s “Tips for Lowering Your Monthly Energy Bill” are the following gems:
Michael Blasnik shares his favorite list
The list included so much bad advice that I e-mailed it to Michael Blasnik. In response, he sent me a link to another appalling list — this one published by no less an authority than the United States Green Building Council.
The USGBC’s list of tips is called “16 Ways To Green Your Home.” The list includes the following two items:
- “Plug Air Leaks. … Common leaks occur around windows, doors, and other wall penetrations. Plugging those leaks with weather stripping and caulk can be a simple task for anyone! Savings: Reduce your energy bill by $100 per year or more!” The estimated energy savings are wildly overstated, of course. In most homes, the real air leaks are elsewhere; finding and plugging the real leaks is not “a simple task for anyone.” It’s a job for a home-performance contractor equipped with a blower door.
- “Tune Up Your Heating and Cooling (HVAC) System. Have a checkup for your HVAC system every 2 years to make sure it is running efficiently. Be sure to clean the filter monthly during times of peak usage; a dirty filter can significantly reduce the efficiency of your HVAC. Savings: Reduce your energy bill by $100 per year or more!” Suffice it to say that no energy expert has ever documented savings of $100 per year due to changing your filter monthly or from paying for an HVAC system checkup every two years. The cost of the filters and checkup are likely to be more than any possible energy savings.
As Blasnik noted in his e-mail, “It’s one thing for a government publication to give bad advice, but it’s even more inexcusable for it to come from a ‘green’ organization that is supposed to be a technical body.”
For more information on energy myths and Michael Blasnik’s efforts to debunk them, see More Energy Myths.