Saturday, November 13, 2010

8 Energy-Saving "Investments" That Will Never Pay Off

From Go Banking Rates.

"Too many energy-saving ideas end up costing more than you will ever make up for in actual energy savings. Plus, since the amount something costs gives some indication of how much energy it took to produce it and get it into your hands, you're not really saving the earth, either.

Here are 8 investments that cost too much to be made up for by the amount of energy they save:

* Solar panels for heating and air conditioning. Solar energy sounds great, but alas, they're not quite there yet. It takes 10-15 years for you to recoup your investment. By then, you will have moved and the system will need repair or be completely obsolete. Better bet in sunny climates: Solar panels for hot water heating. Some of these pay for themselves in just 3-4 years.

* A new hybrid car that saves 10 miles per gallon of gas. How long will it take you to break even on that deal? Considerably longer than you will own the hybrid car. The cheapest, most energy efficient car (when you consider the energy it takes to manufacture one) is almost always the one you already own.

* A replacement refrigerator if your old one was purchased new after 1993. New refrigerators are more efficient; however, if it only costs twenty dollars a month to run yours, you'll never break even. Use this calculator to decide. Or instead, unplug or give away the old refrigerator in the garage.

* New energy-saving roofing. If you're replacing your roof anyway, and especially if you spend money on air conditioning, choose an energy-smart roof. Otherwise, if your roof doesn't leak and looks fine, your money is better spent elsewhere.

* New windows. Windows can be huge energy gobblers. However, unless you have an old house with single pane windows or windows that leak a lot of air, don't change them just to save energy. If you feel a draft, get out the caulking gun.

* New energy efficient computer monitor. Computers account for only about 2 percent of our energy usage. You'll never get your money back tossing a good monitor to buy a more energy-friendly one. Instead, use standby mode (not a screensaver) or turn your monitor off when you're not using it to save power.

* Additional insulation in or on walls. It's expensive to add insulation to walls. If an existing house already has some insulation and you're not about to add more siding anyway, save your money. Best bet: Add more insulation to the attic instead.

* Fireplace inserts if you don't use the fireplace as a regular source of heat. A better strategy would be to block drafts with a urethane pillow made for the purpose, or re-purpose an old cushion to keep your chimney from sucking the warmth out of your living room."


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