Life Times Newsletter

Summer 2005
Vol. 7, No. 3

WATTS UP? Check your electric IQ!
We usually don’t think about electricity until the power goes off, or the utility bill arrives. How much do you know about your electricity? Learn ways to stay cool, stay safe and save energy with this Electric IQ Quiz.


Turning the thermostat lower will cool your home faster.
False. Don’t turn your thermostat down lower to cool faster—it won’t work! Your air conditioner cools at the same rate regardless of the setting. With central air conditioning, buy a programmable thermostat to save energy. It automatically adjusts your home’s temperature at night, while you’re at work or on vacation.

Computer screen savers save energy, and your computer will last longer if you leave it on all day, instead of shutting it off when you’re not using it.
False and False. Screen savers do not save energy. To save energy, turn the monitor off. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends you turn the computer off, too, if you aren’t going to use it within a half hour. The EPA claims the lifetime of the hard disk is limited by use, rather than start-ups.

Power strip surge protection devices will protect electronic equipment from lightning strikes.
False. Power strips, while effective at stopping most in-house spikes, can be overwhelmed by lightning strikes that enter through the power line. For total protection, have a licensed electrical contractor install a whole-house network that begins outside at the meter. Power strips will
provide protection for the 80 percent of power surges caused by motor-driven appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators or even laser printers.

It’s cheaper to leave fluorescent lights on when leaving a room than to turn them back on when you return.
False. According to the EPA, turning the lights off for more than five seconds will save more energy than leaving them on. Fluorescent replacement bulbs for lamps and fixtures last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use up to 75 percent less electricity. Look for warm or daylight fluorescents for the best color rendition.

Houses built between 1965 and 1973 have a greater risk of electrical fire.
True. Many houses built between 1965 and 1973 have aluminum wiring, which the Consumer Product Safety Commission says is 55 times more likely to reach “fire hazard conditions” than copper wire. Insulation on all house wires can become frayed or broken, creating a fire hazard. If you have any doubts about your wiring, have a qualified electrician do an inspection.

Installing motion detectors on outdoor lighting uses more energy.
False. Strategically placed outside your home, motion detectors turn on outdoor floodlights only when a person walks near them. They will save electricity and make your home safer and more secure, since thieves don’t like being caught in the spotlight.

For every 10 percent you lower your water heater’s thermostat, you save up to 11 percent of
water-heating costs.
True. Try setting your thermostat to 120 degrees or on “low.” It will save energy, increase the life of the water heater and help prevent accidental burns. If leaving for a weekend or longer, turn electric water heaters off, or turn gas water heaters to the “pilot” setting.

Closing shades and drapes helps keep your home cool in summer.
True. Closing drapes and shades during the daytime, especially on southern windows, will help keep your home cool. Cover eastern windows in the morning and western windows in the afternoon. Reference: Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI),

For more ways to stay cool, stay safe and save energy, see the following publications (available free on the Web or for a nominal fee from your local extension office):

GH5983, Energy Management Checklist for the Home
GH5990, Conserve Energy in Your Apartment
G6910, Landscape Plantings for Energy Savings
GH4879, Energy Quiz for Home Appliances

Here's a fun and informative web site from the U.S. Department of Energy:
Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home,

Rebecca Blocker, MS
Housing & Environmental Design Specialist

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller