Energy myths exposed
Energy expert Matt McDermott debunks and confirms some popular myths about energy use and conservation.
The following is not a full transcript; for full story, listen to audio.
"The Takeaway's" Power Trip series digs down into some of the water-cooler wisdom surrounding energy use. Are cloth diapers really more energy efficient than disposables? Does shutting off the lights really waste more energy than just leaving them on?
To help debunk myths -- or maybe to confirm them -- is Matt McDermott, an alternative energy writer for TreeHugger.com and Planet Green.com.
Myth 1: Leaving the lights on actually conserves energy versus turning them off and on: "I would say false ... that probably came out of the myth that there's a smalls surge of energy ... when you flip on a light. The thing is, that exists, but it's so miniscule that it really has no effect ... studies have shown you can save significant amounts of energy by shutting the lights off."
Myth 2: Cloth diapers are better than disposables: "Yes and no -- it depends on where you are. There have been studies done that show that ... the amount of energy it takes to launder the cloth diapers is about equal to making and disposing of the other ones. So it comes down to where you live. If you're in an area that has severe water stress, say in California ... you're probably better off going with a disposable, biodegradable diaper rather than a cloth, because you're using more water and energy to wash them."
Myth 3: Washing dishes vs running the dishwasher: "It comes down to how many dishes you're washing. If you're using an entire load in your dishwasher, that's far more efficient in terms of energy usage and water usage, than washing by hand. However, if you're only doing one or two, you ... would use less energy, less water doing it by hand."
Myth 4: The freezer is more efficient when there's more food in it: "It is indeed ... it's more efficient when it's full because all of the frozen items actually help it maintain the temperature. So when everything's ... down to that cool temperature, it maintains the temperature better."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.
More at thetakeaway.org