Ever wonder if your building’s wasting energy, and wasting your money? Many of us are trying to live sustainable lives, but it’s hard when it seems like even our best intentions are often undermined! To make the most of your efforts, we’ll tackle common myths about buildings going green. Share this with neighbors for a greater impact!
Myth 1: Solar panels are the only beneficial addition to a roof.
Truth: Solar panels are a popular choice, but there’s several factors that impact their effectiveness. Does your building get enough sun? Especially in New York, buildings tend to be shaded by their neighbors for some if not all of the day. Not to mention - they need a certain amount of space to be installed, and space is not exactly synonymous with New York City living. On top of that, batteries for storing solar energy can be an unexpected additional cost.
Solution: If solar panels aren’t helpful for your building, why not consider going green - literally - with plants and a garden! Green roofs have insulating properties while providing residents with a lush spot to lounge. For those with more of a brown thumb or a smaller budget, how about painting the roof white to reflect sunlight and help regulate building temperatures - talk about a cost effective solution!
Myth 2: Devices that are plugged in but turned off don't consume energy.
Truth: Don’t let “ghost power” haunt your energy bill. Most electronics draw energy, even when off! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this can account for up to 10% of your energy bill.
Solution: Unplug anything you can when not in use. Using power strips is an easier way to manage the power of everyone's tech and electronics heavy lifestyle. If you’re curious about how much ghost power your appliances use, a simple watt-meter can help you measure it.
Myth 3: Windows don’t have a big impact on energy consumption.
Truth: Windows are more powerful than you think! Poorly insulated windows allow heat to escape and cool air to enter. Households spend an estimated $500 extra every year because of this. As for those dirty windows you haven’t gotten around to yet? The reduction of natural light inside typically leads to turning on extra lights.
Solution: Opening your curtains and cleaning the windows are the simplest solutions - and who doesn’t want some extra vitamin D in NYC? If your home is drafty, an energy audit will help you determine if your windows would benefit from an upgrade, not to mention the savings opportunity. There are plenty of different types of energy certified windows for all different types of apartments!
Myth 4: Leaving the lobby door or apartment window open while the A/C is running doesn’t waste much energy.
Truth: We call that lobby leakage - when cool air escapes and forces building systems to work harder to maintain the desired temperature - and wastes a lot of energy.
Solution: We love summer, but it’s best to keep it outside! If the A/C is running, make sure doors and windows are closed.
Myth 5: When your building cranks the heat in the winter, your only option is to turn on the A/C.
Truth: It's frustrating not having control over your home's temperature, but there are alternatives to running more energy-sucking appliances.
Solution: Try to crack a window and layer down (in this case) before turning on the A/C. Even better, if you have overhead fans, set them to spin counterclockwise for a nice breeze. You’ll feel cooler without touching the thermostat. In the summer months this leads to energy and cash savings! Ceiling fans come in handy in the cold apartment months, too! Set them to spin clockwise and the warm air will flow back down from the ceiling.
Myth 6: Vents don’t impact heating or cooling.
Truth: Vents can become dirty, clogged, or blocked by furniture, decreasing the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. So you end up cranking up, or down the thermostat to compensate.
Solution: Prioritize maintaining the vents in your home - we recommend quarterly cleanings and maintenance to keep things running smoothly. As for reorganizing the living room... keeping vents exposed will leave everyone satisfied!
Myth 7: Changing light bulbs won't make a difference.
Truth: LEDs are most effective when implemented widely and combined with modified habits such as dimming lights or turning them off during off-peak hours.
Solution: Swap regular light bulbs for LEDs, standard switches with dimmers throughout your entire home - and start making use of natural light and the dimmers. When it comes to common spaces like laundry, mail rooms and hallways - small changes will have a significant impact. Dim these lights overnight or connect them to a motion sensor so they’re only on when needed.
Myth 8: Hand washing a stack of dishes is more environmentally friendly than using the dishwasher.
Truth: Little things add up! Hand washing dishes can use up to 27 gallons of water, while newer dishwashers use as little as 3.5 gallons per cycle.
Solution: Save some time and water by putting plates and utensils in the dishwasher. No need to rinse beforehand - just scrape your plate and then let the machine do its thing! Remember, a half-full dishwasher is still more efficient than hand washing.
Every action we take - no matter how small - can have an impact if we do it together. Unplugging devices, planting green roofs, improving window insulation or shutting windows when heating and cooling systems are running all have a sizable impact on their own and at scale.
Hopefully we put an end to some misconceptions you may have had about living green! If so, share this article with friends and neighbors to maximize impact!