Energy savings myths vs. reality

If your utility bill is costing you a pretty penny this winter, going green helps get your bill under control. But if you aren't careful, you may actually be spending more money instead of saving. Consumer Reports breaks down some energy saving myths and so-called energy saving "truths" at

Here's one you may have heard of: switching to electric room heaters will reduce your energy bill. If you have central electric heat and turn down the heat in other rooms, a room heater may save you money. If you shop carefully, you can find a reliable model for less than a hundred bucks. But you may be better off simply lowering your thermostat. Lowering it by just one degree reduces heating costs by about three percent.

If you've tried to save on lighting, it may be because the word on the street is that dimming your incandescent lights by 50 percent will cut your lighting bill in half. This will help you save some, but it won't save you 50 percent. It also reduces the efficiency of your lighting. To get a bigger savings, switch to CFL or LED light bulbs.

There are also many myths about insulation. Here's one: insulating the ceiling will only cause more heat to leak out the windows. The truth is, adding insulation to one part of the home won't cause heat loss in another part of the home. The bottom line with insulation is to add it to places where air typically escapes, such as the attic. Caulk or expandable foam seals leaks around doors and windows.

To reduce air leakage many people install foam gaskets in electrical outlets. This will help a little bit, but experts say less than one percent of a home's air leakage is due to outlets. A more efficient way to stop air leakage is to add insulation to your attic, around doors, and in basement ceilings.

Fixing leaky ductwork with a proper sealant, not duct tape, is another way to go green and save. Other ways to reduce energy include using power meters to find out which appliances in your home use the most energy, changing a refrigerator door gasket, and tuning up your HVAC system. Now you can go green and save money on your utilities the proper way.