Electricity saving tips

By Staff Writer
If you've been under a rock for the past two months, the fact that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has approved a staggering 24.8% increase in the power tariffs might be news to you.

The increase will come into effect on 1 April 2010 and if you're currently spending R300 a month on electricity, you can now expect to pay around R374.40 - the price will further increase over the next three years and you'll probably end up paying about R593 per month by April 2012.

That is enough to leave anyone a bit hot under the collar so here are some tips on how to save money while also helping the environment.

Geyser
A household's water heating makes up for 30%-40% of the electricity account, so this is the best place to start saving.

  • Shower instead of bath.
  • Set your geyser's thermometer to the lowest setting you find comfortable; it'll use less electricity to heat up and you won't need to add cold water when you shower.
  • Put the plug in the basin when you wash your face, shave or wash dishes. Allowing hot water to run down the drain is a big waste.

Refrigerator and Freezer

  • Choose these appliances based on your family's needs. Freezers and refrigerators operate at peak efficiency whey they are filled to the maximum, but be careful not to overload them, as this will not only use more electricity but it will also affect the quality of food. 
  • Temperatures should not be too low - three degrees will do the job.
  • Do not allow frost build-up. If you do not own a frost-free model, defrost and clean it when the build-up gets to about 0.6cm and do not allow it to get thicker than 1.3cm. 
  • Make sure the seal around the door is intact. This can be tested by closing the door on a piece of paper - if the paper can be pulled out easily, your seal needs replacing.

Lights

  • Fluorescent lighting is the most economical when compared to incandescent bulbs. Not only do they use less energy but they also last ten times longer. 
  • Use a lamp shade that directs light up and down in order to maximize usage. 
  • Switch off lights when not in use and install dimming switches to help regulate light levels.

Insulation
By merely improving the thermal insulation in your home you can save thousands a year in heating costs and improve the comfort in your home. You can start by insulating the ceiling in order to reduce your heating and cooling costs. The efficiency of the insulation will depend on the thickness and density of the material the insulation is made of.
The insulation materials in South Africa varies from fibreglass to a mixture prepared from paper and other materials - these types of insulations are blown into the ceiling in a process which seals the entire roof area, but other methods are just as effective. Insulation suppliers will be able to give you all the information you need to help you make the right decision.

For more information on saving energy head over to the Eskom DSM site where you can find suppliers of geyser blankets, shower heads and solar water heaters.  They are also offering a rebate on solar water heaters.

For parents looking for a fun way to get their children involved in saving energy, the Lose Your Excuse campaign, run by the US department of energy, is a fun and innovative way to get the little ones interested.  Click here to find out more.

Last, but not least, make sure you buy appliances with the Energy Star logo on. Switch off what you're not using and don't make use of appliances unless it is 100% necessary.

 

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