Want to be more energy efficient and pay less at the same time? Our consumer expert Taryn Arnott has the tips to help you cut your household bills.
We’re all more money conscious now that prices are up. But are you saving electricity and water in every way that you can? These tips will help.
1. Check your geyser
The geyser is the number-one waster of electricity in most households. Install a geyser timer, which automatically turns the geyser on for only two to three hours during the day when you need it. Otherwise, make sure you switch off the geyser during the day when you’re not at home, and at night when you’re sleeping. Or try a geyser controller, which turns off the geyser when you’re not using hot water in large amounts, and switches it off when the water is hot enough. Visit mrpower.co.za.
2. Go LED
LED light bulbs are the new way to save on lighting costs. They last between 10 and 40 times longer than compact fluorescents. They don’t have filaments, so they aren’t easily damaged, and use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. While they’re a little pricey, you’ll recoup the costs in the long run.
3. Minimise use
One of the biggest draws on your bill is the tumbledryer. If it’s sunny outside, hang your laundry out to dry, which will also make your clothes last longer. As much as 85% of the energy used for washing clothes goes to heating, so choose a cool wash instead.
4. Try solar
Use solar lights where you can — especially if they’re just decorative. The Lighting Warehouse’s Mooni range of solar lighting works well in the garden. They save on electricity costs, and are so easy to install. Simply remove the packaging and put them in a sunny spot. Visit lightingwarehouse.co.za.
5. Install a rainwater tank
You can use the rainwater you collect to water your garden, wash your clothes or even flush the toilet. Tanks are easy to install and can be connected to your roof by a gutter. Make sure you purchase the right-sized tank for your garden.
6. Stop the pool-pump draining your electricity
Reduce the length of time you run your pool pump, and you could save up to 40% on electricity. Between four and six hours a day is enough to keep your pool clean in summer; two hours a day in winter.
7. Monitor your usage
Keep an eye on what’s sapping your electricity. The Efergy Hub shows you the amount of energy used from each electrical source in your home at any time of the day. It can tell you exactly how much electricity you have used in a month, so you don’t get a fright when the bill arrives! And, you can download your energy data to your PC or Mac. Look for one at Ellies or Builders Warehouse.
8. Do a thorough home audit
Eskom has a simple online audit tool that helps you to identify the main energy consumption points in your home in a quick and easy breakdown. It shows your usage per energy category — including your kitchen, laundry, pool, fridges and freezers, and air conditioning — and effectively where you can be saving. Visit eskom.co.za.
9. Cut down the water bill
Take shorter showers, use a low-flow showerhead, and plant drought-tolerant plants in your garden so you can have a beautiful, cost-effective garden all-year round. Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth. Fix leaky toilets or taps, which can cost hundreds of rands, and precious litres, a year.
10. Make the big changes
If you’re really interested in improving your energy efficiency in the long term, consider the investments you’re willing to make when it comes to appliances and home improvements. Consider insulating your ceiling for chilly winter nights (aeropink.co.za has some good options). Decide if you’re willing to trade in your energy-guzzling top loader for an eco-friendly front-loading washing machine. Choose a fridge with a size that suits your needs — they operate efficiently when they’re full, so you might be wasting energy using a bigger fridge. Retire the old drinks fridge standing in the garage, which gobbles electricity on account of its age. These changes will all make a difference to your bill in the long run.
Quick home savings around the clock
These no-cost, quick and easy tips — straight from Eskom — will save you a bunch on your monthly electricity bill!
1. In the scullery
- Skip the drying cycle on the dishwasher and rather wipe your dishes down with a dry cloth to save plenty on each wash.
- Fill the dishwasher before running it; half loads waste electricity and water.
- Use the shorter wash cycle on your dishwasher (and washing machine) wherever possible.
2. In the kitchen
- Don’t set the fridge lower than it needs to be. Leave a little space between items for cool air to pass through.
- Defrost your fridge often — frost reduces your fridge’s cooling ability.
- Try to open the fridge door as little as possible and make sure the fridge is positioned away from the stove.
- Use a pressure cooker to conserve energy when cooking foods that take a long time, such as stews and steamed puddings.
- Use small kitchen appliances wherever possible. Use the toaster instead of the grill, and the kettle instead of the stove top for boiling water.
3. In the laundry room
- Use cold water washes on your washing machine wherever possible.
- Don’t ever overload your machine.
- Avoid using the tumble dryer, unless you have to. Line-drying is free!
4. In the lounge and bedroom
- Use the dimming switch on your lights to decrease energy use wherever possible.
- Keep the filter screens in your air conditioner clean so it works at its best.
- Set the aircon to re-circulate cool air instead of drawing in warmer outside air.
- Make sure the TV and radio are off at the wall — rather than just on standby — when no-one is using them.
- Infrared heaters are more efficient than oil heaters. When using an oil heater, keep it on its lowest setting.
- Keep your doors and windows closed when using a heater or air conditioner.