Smart homeowners are always looking for ways to lower their electricity bills. Not only do you save money, but you reduce your environmental footprint as well by decreasing your reliance on fossil fuels. Lowering your electricity and other utility bills can increase the value of your house and even correspond with living a happier life. There are endless tips and tricks available to help you cut back on your electricity usage, but be prudent -- there are some persistent myths out there about home electric use that won't actually help you save energy, and could end up costing you. Read on to find some common claims about electricity that simply aren't true.

  • Energy efficient light bulbs are too expensive: Light bulbs cost more to buy in the store than they used to, it's true. Thanks to federal regulations, traditional, cheap, incandescent bulbs have all but disappeared from the market,  replaced with options like compact fluorescent bulbs, LEDs and halogen bulbs that all have a higher price tag. However, the modern bulb options use far less electricity and have longer life spans that the incandescents of yore, meaning you will actually save money in the long run. The average household should save about $75 each year by replacing old light bulbs with newer, more efficient versions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • You don't need to power off your computers and other electronics when you aren't using them: Most computers, televisions and other modern electronic devices go into sleep or hibernation mode when they haven't been used for a period of time. However, hibernating is not the same as fully powering down. Leaving a computer in sleep mode still draws electricity. Furthermore, even in sleep mode, electronics experience tiny but cumulative wear and tear. Save electricity and prolong the life of your devices by shutting them off and unplugging them when you don't need to use them for several hours.
  • Setting the AC to frigid will cool your house down fast: Wrong. Your air conditioner cools at the same rate regardless of how hard it has to work to meet your thermostat setting. So if you turn the dial to its lowest setting, you won't cool off any faster, but you will waste electricity once the machine passes your desired temperature and keeps on trucking to cool the house even further.
  • Solar panels aren't an option for me: While solar panels produce best in climates with a lot of clear, sunny days, homes in cloudy or rainy regions of the country can also benefit from them. Fog and clouds block some of the sun's energy, but not all of it, so residents of famously weather-obscured cities like Seattle and San Francisco can still get good value by installing a solar array on their roofs.

To separate what's real from what's false in the world of electricity efficiency, hire an expert to conduct a home energy audit. A trusted professional can evaluate your home and appliances, show you where you can make cost-efficient upgrades and steer you away from useless or counterproductive measures.