Saving electricity will not only save you money, but will also help with the rising power cuts, as the country needs to cut energy use by 10% for the current system to cope. Saving electricity will also give you a warm fuzzy feeling, as you will be doing your bit to conserve natural resources, i.e. coal, and reducing the impact energy consumption has on the environment, slowing down global warming.
- Electricity is measured in units of power called watts (W)
- 1 000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW)
- 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) = 1000W or 1kW working for one hour
- Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours, and on your electricity bill each kilowatt hour is shown as one unit.
All household appliances are rated in watts or kilowatts. This will indicate how much electricity the appliance uses in a certain amount of time. For example, a 1kW kitchen appliance uses one unit of electricity an hour. A 100 watt light bulb uses one unit of electricity every 10 hours. Usually the rating is shown on the appliance, the higher the rating, the more electricity it will use.
The first step in saving electricity is to understand how electricity is used in your home. South African households, on average, use electricity in the following ways:
- Space heating and cooling: 18%
- Lighting: 17%
- Fridges and freezers: 8%
- Cooking: 11%
- Consumer electronics: 5%
- Consumer electronics on standby mode: 15%
- Geysers: 24%
- Miscellaneous: 2%
Standby for more Savings
These days our homes are full of appliances that use electricity all the time, even when we aren’t there. We leave them on standby mode, waiting to be used again. You would think that an appliance on standby would only use a little electricity, but sadly we are mistaken.
In some households appliances of standby mode use the equivalent of leaving a 100W light bulb on all year
Some examples of appliances that use power, but can be switched off are; battery and phone charges, microwaves (do you really need that digital clock?), computers, TVs, DVD players, decoders, Hi-Fis, game consoles, rechargeable toothbrushes, the list can go on and on. There are some appliances that do however, need to be powered all the time such as; home security systems, remote controlled gates and garage doors, to name but a few. Make sure you select low consumption models to reduce your electricity usage.
Check the Label
Before you buy a new appliance, check the energy efficiency rating, which is rated on a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). A-rated appliances are better for the environment and cost much less to run. For example, if you replace the fridge-freezer you bought in 1995 with an A-rated energy efficient one, you would save about R 680.00 a year on electricity. Some brands are A+ or A++ rated – the pinnacle of appliance energy efficiency.
Here are some handy tips for reducing energy around the house
In the Kitchen:
- Use a kettle to boil water for cooking as it is quicker and uses less energy than a pot on the hob.
- Always match the size of the pan with the size of the stove plate.
- Use a microwave to cook as it is quicker and cheaper, 1 oven uses the same power as 18 microwaves.
- Only fill kettle with the amount of water that you need.
- Cut food into smaller sections before cooking to help it cook quicker.
- Make your toast in a toaster, not under the grill.
- Don’t keep opening the oven door while you are cooking.
- Always put a full load of washing in the washing machine and if the weather is good dry the clothes on the line outside.
- If you have a stove with heavy solid plates that retain heat, switch off the plate a few minutes before removing the pot.
- When you open your fridge door for more than a moment, it loses cold air. Cooling it down again will take a lot of electricity. So be quick and don’t let all that cold air out.
- Do not place hot food in the refrigerator or the deep freeze, rather allow it to cool outside first.
- Ensure that the door seals are in good condition and don’t put the refrigerator near the oven.
- Every time you switch on your dishwasher, it’s the same as switching on 120 CFL energy-saving light bulbs. Wait until the dishwasher is full before you switch it on. Use the economy programme wherever possible.
- Clothes should never be placed in the tumble dryer while they are still dripping with water, so be sure to remove excess water.
- In most homes, lighting accounts for around 17% – 20% of the electricity bill. A considerable amount of electricity can be saved by replacing your conventional tungsten bulbs with compact-florescent lamps (CFLs). They are more expensive, but CFLs last 8 times longer.
- Turn off the lights that you don’t need on and use lighter lampshades as they wil make the most of the energy.
- Fit lower wattage bulbs wherever possible and avoid leaving spot lights on for too long, as they use more electricity.
In the Lounge:
- Switch the TV off when not in use, leaving it on standby mode uses up to 50% of the power the TV would use if it was actually on, the same goes for the Hi-Fi’s and computers.
- Rather use a gas heater or a temperature-controlled oil heater for space heating and switch of the heater if you leave the room.
- Curtains help to retain the heat, so draw them early in the evening.
In the Bathroom:
- Shower instead of running a bath, as a shower uses much less water and therefore, less hot water and less electricity.
- Fit low-flow shower heads, this will not only save water, but electricity too.
- A geyser blanket will insulate your geyser not allowing the heat to escape. To save even further, insulate the water pipes and turn the geyser’s thermostat down to 60°C.
- Fix any dripping taps, especially hot water taps.
The Swimming Pool:
- The swimming pool filter pump is one of the largest consumers of electricity. So try to use the pump only when necessary. There are a number of timers available that can be fitted to the pump.
- During winter you can use the pool filter even less, as algae growth is limited, so the cleaning filter can be reduced to once every few days.
- Consider Solar Water Heating Panels and Heat pumps.