September news

We were really pleased with the feedback on our first newsletter which was sent in August. A few great suggestions were received, and we will publish articles on the suggested topics in due course.
Remember this is a newsletter with a difference. You are able to choose the content that you want to read, by "updating our preferences" on the toolbar on the right-hand side.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Kind regards
Daleen and Carina van der Linde
The LINPROP team

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.



Creating an illusion of space

Small rooms can often be a problem when it comes to furnishing and decorating. Pieces of furniture that look perfect in the showroom, will often appear too bulky in a confined space and end up giving the whole room a cluttered appearance. Structural alterations, such as taking out a dividing wall between two small rooms to create on larger one, are not always practical.

Light, plain colours will make a room appear larger. However, large expanses of plain wall can also make a room seem very boring. Choose complimentary shades, such as stone and beige for example, or perhaps two or three shades of the same pastel or earthy tone. Do not use more that two different colours or you will make the room look too busy and break up the smooth, continuous lines you are aiming for. Paint ceilings white or similarly light and bright colour. 

Continuous flooring, such as fitted wall-to-wall carpeting or laminated flooring  will make a room appear far more spacious. Choose a colour that is similar to that on the walls. Patterned carpets should be avoided, as they tend to make a room look cluttered.

Both curtains and blinds can be used to help create the illusion of space. Simple roller blinds that fit the windows exactly are best to give a feeling of space and are especially suitable for small windows. Select plain colours that have a similar tone as the walls and avoid fussy distractions, such as tassels or fringes. Venetian and Roman blinds are less suitable, as they tend to draw attention to the window. Curtains should be long – nearly reaching the floor – and hung from a rail extended out beyond the sides of the window to make it seem larger.

Mirrors are probably one of the simplest ways of creating an illusion of space and also of making dark rooms seem lighter. An obvious way of using mirrors to make a room appear more spacious is to cover one complete wall with them. Place a mirror on the opposite side op a window to reflect light and the beautiful view. In bathrooms, replace a small vanity mirror with a mirror that extends along the full length of the wall.

Clever use of plain glass can also help to create the illusion of space. Glass-topped tables look less bulky than solid ones. Glass shelves are light and unobtrusive and ideal for displaying delicate ornaments.  Doors with one or more glass panels, whether plain or ridged, can make a very considerable difference to a small space. Not only do they let more light into the area, but also they form a less substantial barrier.

Good lighting is important in a small room and should be carefully planned and positioned. Avoid harsh bright lights - soft, recessed or concealed lighting is far better and  leaves the edges of the room in less abrupt shadow. Wall lights are more suitable than one single ceiling pendant, with freestanding lamps to provide direct task lighting where it is needed. Maximise the quantity of natural light with skylights and sheer curtains.

When it comes to choosing furniture, look for low-level pieces rather than tall ones that will make the room seem cramped. Avoid buying lots of bits and pieces, and choose a few, well designed and complementary pieces instead. Use multi-purpose furniture that provides storage, function and decor, for example an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table and seating for guests. Heavily patterned upholstery is best avoided, however, textured materials are a very good option. Choose colours and materials that tone in well with the colour of the walls and the flooring. If you feel like it is looking a bit monochromatic and flat, add bright, contrasting colour with some patterned scatter cushions.

Make sure the furniture you choose is in proportion to the size of the room.  An oversized bed squeezed into a small bedroom will only make the room appear even smaller than it is. Whatever furniture you choose, arrange it carefully to make the best use of your floor space and ensure that you provide adequate passageways through the room.

Last, but not the least: nothing makes a small room look even smaller than a lot of clutter. Wherever possible, get things out of the way and into cupboards or shelves. 


Contacting council about problems

• City Power - Street Lights: SMS to 32694 with Street number, Street name and suburb
• City Power (power outages, dangerous matters, illegal connections): Visit http ://citypower . mobi (from mobile) or www . citypower . co . za (from PC)
• Joburg Road Agency (street markings, signs, potholes, traffic signals etc): Email
• Joburg Water (leaking meters, leaking valves, sewer, leaks): Email
• City Parks (fallen trees, grass cutting request): Call 011 375 5555 Option 0 then 1
• Revenue (accounts, change of ownership etc): Call 011 375 5555 Option 1

That annoying body corporate!

The very moment  a unit is registered in your name at the deeds office, you automatically become a member of the body corporate of that sectional title complex. The body corporate is made up of all the owners of units in a complex. It is not a choice. An owner in a complex cannot refuse to become a member and can also not resign at any stage while he or she owns a unit in that complex.

When one takes transfer of a sectional title unit, one effectively becomes a member of a community of people whose common charactertistic is that they own a unit in a particular sectional title complex. Membership only ceases to exist when the unit is sold and ownership is transferred into the new owner's name in the deeds office. The new owner then becomes a member of the body corporate.

From a legal point of view the body corporate has a separate identity. It can sue and be sued.

Trustees are those individuals who are elected at the Annual General Meeting of a body corporate as representatives of the body corporate who take care of the day-to-day adminstration and management of the body corporate. Owners in sectional title schemes often think of the trustees as the body corporate - hence the reference to "them".

The most important function of a body corporate is to establish a fund, called the levy fund,  to which each owner must contribute. From this fund all expenses related to running a building is paid - that is expenses for which the body corporate is responsible. 

More about the responsibilties of trustees and levies next time - but in the meantime, remember: the body corporate of the complex in which you own a unit, is not THEM -  it is US! 

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