Electricity Myths

Myth 1: Screen savers save electricity
It is a common misconception that screen savers save electricity. In fact, they use as much electricity as when you are actively using the computer.  Additionally, most people now have LCD monitors, which don’t even need screen savers. It is best to turn off your monitor when it is not in use, both to reduce wear and to reduce electricity.

Myth 2: Devices that are turned off don’t use power
In the average home, 75% of the electricity powering home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. These devices include chargers with adaptor boxes (cell phone and laptop chargers), items that can be turned on instantly (TV, stereo), and appliances with clocks (microwave, coffeepot). You can eliminate these “phantom loads” by unplugging items, or by using a powerstrip and turning it off.

Myth 3: Switching a computer on and off shortens its lifespan
Many people mistakenly believe that computer equipment will wear out faster if it is turned on/off frequently. Leaving your computer on all day and night will not make it last longer and it will waste electricity.  To reduce electricity, use the power saving options for your computer and shut it down at the end of the day.

Myth 4: Lights should not be turned on/off frequently
Always turn off incandescent bulbs, even for short periods of time. Frequent on/off doesn’t affect them. However, turn off compact fluorescents (CFLs) if they will remain off for more than 15 minutes. Turning CFLs on and off does reduce their lifespan, but so does leaving the light on.  Since CFLs are more expensive and more sensitive to being turned on/off, there is a tradeoff between paying for electricity to run the bulb versus the cost of replacing the bulb. When it’s time to replace the CFL, be sure to handle properly—see below.

Myth 5: We shouldn’t use compact fluorescents (CFLs) because they aren’t really “green”
CFLs do contain a minute amount of mercury that remains safely sealed when the bulb is intact. But because they require 75% less electricity than incandescents, using CFLs greatly cuts emission of mercury (and greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants. Handling CFLs carefully and wrapping them for recycling avoids any mercury exposure.

So, If your CFL burns out, drop it off in any Commons office, the Service Building stock room, or the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest.

If it breaks, call Facilities immediately. All custodial teams have toxin clean-up kits.


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