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Pay less for electricity!

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%

The second step is to understand  how electricity is  charged. 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.

Some ideas to cut the electricity bill:

Avoid  hungry appliances. Usually the rating is shown on the appliance, the higher the rating, the more electricity it will use. 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 a few hundred rand a year on electricity. Some brands are A+ or A++ rated - the pinnacle of appliance energy efficiency.  Check the label!

Don't leave appliances in standby mode. Items on standby use up to 85% of the electricity they would use when actually switched on. Some examples of appliances that use power, but can be switched off are battery and phone chargers, microwaves, computers, televisions,  DVD players, decoders, Hi-Fis, game consoles, rechargeable toothbrushes - the list can go on an 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. Select low consumption models to reduce your electricity usage.

There are various ways to save on water heating costs. One of the biggest savings, of a minimum of 5 percent, can be achieved by turning geyser thermostats down to 60°C.  Insulate geysers and water pipes to prevent heat loss, and switch geysers off when you go away for a weekend or holiday. Energy-efficient shower heads will save water and electricity. To shower uses less water and electricity than bathing, and dripping hot water taps cost money too! Replace those washers!

Go solar!  Solar heating pumps  not only produce considerable reductions in the total carbon footprint of a household, but also add value to properties. Solar-powered lights are great for the environment and exceptionally cost-effective to run - a great choice for outdoor lightning. Use a tumble dryer only when really necessary - if the weather is good dry the clothes on the line outside.

Switch off lights when a room is not in use, and use lower wattage bulbs when possible. Switch to the more energy efficient CFL technology by replacing  conventional tungsten bulbs with compact-florescent lamps (CFLs). They are more expensive, but CFLs last 8 times longer and uses less elctricity.  Make sure that outdoor lighting is turned off during the day. Use motion-detectors lights or timer switches.

Approximately 80% of the electricity used by a washing machine, is used to heat up water. Use cold water programmes when possible and try to wash full loads.

Heating in winter can be very expensive - that is when electricity usage soars! Install insulation in the roof, and draw curtains late afternoon, to retain the heat. If you are going to invest  in heating, consider a wood-burning stove which is very effective. Use a gas heater or a temperature-controlled oil heater for space heating and switch of the heater when you leave the room.

Adjust timers on electrical equipment such as pool filter pumps.

Cultivate energy saving habits in the kitchen:

■Use a kettle to boil water for cooking as it  uses less energy than a pot on the hob, and only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need.  
■ Always match the size of the pan with the size of the stove plate, and if you have a stove with  solid plates that retain heat, switch off the plate a few minutes before removing the pot.
■Use a microwave to cook whenever you can - an oven uses the same power as 18 microwaves.
■Make toast in a toaster, not under the grill.
■Don’t keep opening the oven door while you are cooking. 
■Do not place hot food in the refrigerator or the deep freeze, rather allow it to cool outside first.
■Decide what you want from the refrigerator or freezer before you open them so you don’t waste electricity by standing there looking inside and keeping the door open.  Ensure that the door seals are in good condition and don’t put the refrigerator near the oven or in direct sunlight. 
■Defrost the freezer regularly. An iced up freezer will have to work harder and will use more electricity.

■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.


 

 


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