Electricity efficient at home
There are many things you can do to save electricity, without affecting your lifestyle. An unintended side effect will be hat you will also contribute to reducing carbon emissions, thereby helping save the environment.
You can easily save up to R2000-00 per year by implementing a few practical steps:
- Adjust the thermostat setting on the geyser to 55degC
- Insulate the geyser and hot water pipes.
- Shower instead of bathing
- Fix leaky hot water taps
- Don’t use the hot water tap for small amounts of cold water
- Fit a low-flow showerhead in the shower
- Insulate the ceilings in your home
- Use an electric blanket instead of a heater in the bedroom
- Air-dry laundry outdoors (as opposed to using a 2kW tumble dryer for two hours each week)
- Switch off the lights in rooms when they are not occupied
- Use fluorescent lights in places that require long hours of light, e.g. garage and kitchen
- Regularly service the pool pump and clean the filter
GEYSER/HOT WATER CYLINDER
The geyser is the highest consumer of electricity in the home. Save on electricity by doing the following:
- Set the temperature thermostat of the geyser to the recommended 55degC. The higher the setting the higher the electricity consumption.
- Install a timer on the geyser. It will then switch itself on and off at predetermined times. Alternatively, you can switch the geyser off for a few hours each day.
- Switch off the geyser before you go away for two or more days.
- It is not true that you should leave fluorescent lights on. Although efficient, they consume electricity none the less.
- Use timer devices on plug sockets to switch lamps on and off, e.g. at night.
- Use CFL bulbs, solar lamps, motion detector lights or photocell/day-night lights for exterior lighting.
- Dimmer switches help regulate the light level and reduce electricity consumption (e.g. for recessed downlights).
- Make the most of natural light entering the house.
- Install a skylight instead of switching lights on during the day.
When buying an appliance think not only of the purchase price but also of the operating cost. More efficient appliances will save you considerable money in the long term.
- Switch off all appliances such as TVs, DVD players and stereos when they are not in use.
- Most electrical appliances continue to draw small amounts of power when switched off. 75% of the electricity used for home electronics is consumed while the appliances are turned off. Unplug the appliance when not in use.
- Switch off your computer if not in use for next two hours.
- Unplug seldom-used appliances, e.g. an extra fridge or freezer in the garage.
- Unplug your chargers/transformers when not in use.
- Buy appliances with an ‘energy efficient’ label or rating. The government is introducing a standardised energy-efficiency labelling system, for comparative rating purposes. An ‘A’ rating is the most energy efficient, while a ‘G’ rating is the least efficient. Products with the American ENERGY STAR label are also energy efficient (e.g. computers and monitors, provided that the power management features are activated).
- Replace old appliances with new ones. The savings in electricity costs will more than make up for the replacement costs.
- Do not buy larger and more powerful appliances than you need.
- Do not buy an electric appliance where a hand-operated one will do.
- Use the correct appliance for the job, e.g. don’t make toast in the oven.
- Use a microwave oven, toaster, electric grill, pressure cooker, electric frying pan and bottle warmers where possible, as they use less electricity than ovens and stove hobs.
- Air-dry laundry instead of using a tumble dryer. If you do use a dryer, dry a full load and make sure the lint filter is cleaned after each use to ensure air circulation.
- Fold up your laundered clothes, so you don’t have to iron them.
- Do all your ironing at the same time instead of in stages. Switch the iron off before you are done, then complete ironing on stored energy.
- Use distilled water in steam irons to prevent calcium build-up.
- Empty or replace your vacuum cleaner dust bag frequently.
- Defrost food in the fridge the night before instead of defrosting in a microwave oven.
- Instead of leaving appliances such as a TV or DVD player in standby mode, switch off at the mains. Leaving an appliance on standby is equivalent to leaving a 75W light bulb burning continuously.
- Turn off computer monitors and computers completely rather than leaving them in automatic standby
- A microwave oven is cheaper to operate than a stove (for reheating and cooking).
- Match the size of the pot to the size of the stove plate/element.
- Make sure that the bottom of a pot has good contact with the stove plate and is not warped or uneven.
- Keep stove plates clean.
- Keep lids on pots when cooking to conserve heat and energy.
- For solid plate stoves, bring food to boil on high/max, then turn down to simmer until ready (or switch off and allow the latent heat to finish cooking).
- Boil water in a kettle instead of heating up water in a pot on the stove.
- Soak beans, lentils, samp and the like in cold water overnight. This will save several hours of cooking.
- Don’t cook food for longer than necessary.
- Use a pressure cooker.
- In the oven: cook several dishes simultaneously.
- Keep the oven door closed until food is cooked (use the oven light to check instead). Every time the door is opened, heat is lost and must be replaced.
- Ensure that the rubber seal of the oven door is in good condition and that the door closes properly.
- Don’t use the stove or oven to heat a room; use an oil heater instead.
- Replace your oven with a convection oven. It uses less electricity and cooks faster.
- Consider replacing your electric oven and hob with a more energy efficient LPG gas model.
- Use cold water to fill the kettle.
- If you are making one cup of tea/coffee, boil only enough water.
- Store any surplus hot water from the kettle in a vacuum flask and use later for a cup of tea or for washing up.
- De-scale lime build-up on the element (using distilled white vinegar). It reduces efficiency.
- Ensure that the rubber seals are in good condition and that doors close properly. Check by placing a piece of paper or banknote between the door gaskets. The note should be difficult to pull out. If not, replace the seals.
- Place the fridge/freezer away from a potential heat source (e.g. oven, direct sunlight).
- Avoid leaving doors open for longer than necessary, to minimise cold air escaping.
- Defrost the fridge/freezer regularly (once every two months) – frost buildup of 1cm or more increases running costs.
- Frost-free fridges do not require defrosting but use more electricity.
- Don’t set fridge thermostat setting higher/colder than necessary. Turn down even lower for periods when you go away for two days or more.
- Fully stocked fridges/freezers maintain temperature better than empty ones. Remember not to overfill the fridge. Place water-filled bottles in the fridge to keep in the cold. Water bottles in the freezer will also keep frozen food colder for longer during a power outage (crumpled newspaper also helps to fill any spaces).
- Allow hot or warm food to cool down naturally before placing in the fridge or freezer.
- Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the fridge. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
- Carefully clean the condenser coils of the fridge regularly. These are typically located behind or underneath the fridge. Leave a sufficient space (e.g. 10cm) between the fridge and wall for air to circulate around the condenser coils.
- Replace old fridges/freezers with more efficient modern ones.
- Short cold water wash cycles are efficient than longer hot water washes. Detergents formulated for cold water get clothes just as clean. 90% of the energy used by the machine is used to heat water.
- Skip the washing machine’s pre-wash cycle if washing is not that dirty.
- A front loader washing machine uses less water and costs less to operate than a top loader.
- Washing a full load of clothing is more economical than small/medium loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
- If using a warm wash for bed linen, for instance, set the machine to wash at 60degC instead of 90degC.
- Ensure dishwasher is full, not overloaded. Half loads cost as much as full loads.
- Instead of using the pre-rinse cycle, scrape food soil off plates and rinse briefly with cold water before placing in the dishwasher.
- Use short cycles for all but the dirtiest of dishes.
- Clean the filter regularly. Blocked filters reduce efficiency and waste energy.
SPACE COOLING (summer)
- Use a fan or ceiling fan, where possible, instead of an air conditioner.
- Keep all windows closed when the air-conditioner is running.
- Keep direct sunlight out by closing curtains/blinds.
- Check the air conditioner filter regularly and clean or replace when necessary.
- Install ceiling insulation fibre to keep your house cool (it reduces warm air conduction).
- A north-facing house is best for taking advantage of the natural light. The house is also warmed by the low sun in winter and cooler in summer when the position of the sun is higher.
- Ensure that trees planted on the north side of the house are deciduous to shade north-facing windows in the summer and allow the sun through in winter.
- Shade north-facing windows with overhangs or deciduous trees.
- Install retractable shade awnings above west and east windows, or install reflective film on windows.
SPACE HEATING (winter)
- Close windows, curtains and doors at night to contain heat within a room. Open curtains during the day to allow sunlight in.
- Seal up cracks or holes (caulking). Reduce air leakage on doors and windows with weather strips to keep out cold air. Use a ‘door worm’ or ‘sausage’ to block draughts under doors.
- Use a fireplace (if installed) instead of a heater.
- Close the fireplace flue damper when not in use.
- Insulate the ceiling to regulate the temperature and to prevent heat loss.
- Cover bare/tiled floors with rugs or mats.
- Wear warm clothing and use an extra blanket on the bed to keep warm.
- Use an oil heater (with thermostat) instead of a bar heater. Set it at a medium/comfortable level.
- Ceiling fans can keep you comfortable in winter too. Reversing the direction of the blades pushes warm air down in the room.
- It is cheaper to use an electric blanket than a heater in the bedroom.
- Install ceiling insulation fibre. It minimises warm air escaping.
- Create a windbreak with evergreen trees/shrubs or a barrier to stop chilling winter winds.
- Planting deciduous trees (which lose their leaves in winter) will provide shade in summer and allow maximum sunlight in winter.
- A north-facing house provides ideal natural light and is good for winter heating when the sun is at a lower angle than in summer.
POOL FILTER PUMP
- Swimming pool pumps use up to 20% of total electricity consumption in the home. Simply reduce the time interval for running the pump by two hours a day (e.g. 6 hours instead of 8 hours in summer).
- Use a pool cover. This will keep the pool cleaner reducing the number of required backwashes. Due to lower algae growth in winter, the pump running time can be further reduced.
- Clean/backwash the filter regularly and remove foreign materials from the strainer basket.
- Spa baths/jacuzzis are one of the highest consumers of household electricity because of heating requirements and pump operation.