Save the grid… and your pocket
As South Africa struggles with an ongoing energy crisis, inefficiency and waste still occur across the board. You can do your bit to cut electricity usage, and save some cash in the process.
Over the past decade, South Africa has experienced significant growth across the spectrum. While positive in many respects, growth comes at a price. In South Africa’s case, energy has proven the dearest commodity in respect of this growth ‘barter’.
In the past, electricity was cheap and plentiful. This bred a certain degree of complacency with regards to energy usage, which, when coupled with the country’s swift expansion, lack of appropriate energy infrastructure maintenance and new energy development, placed strain on its energy resources. This energy shortfall first became manifest in 2006 and continued through to 2008 when rolling blackouts became the norm. Today, almost daily load shedding is once again the status quo and the cost of electricity is scheduled to increase soon.
In a nutshell, South Africa is in the throes of an energy crisis yet inefficiency and waste still occur across the board. Although the fate of the country’s broader energy scenario lies largely in the hands of the powers that be, there are things that you can do to alleviate strain on the grid and save money almost immediately. Quick and obvious interventions such as replacing inefficient electrical products and behaviour modification are two paths which can be pursued.
Many home owners feel overwhelmed by the perceived cost of becoming more energy efficient, but with Mr. Power’s easy-to-follow, step-by-step approach, 2015 can be the year your home will progressively become more economical and environmentally-friendly. The investment you put in will start paying itself off immediately.
The geyser uses up to 60% of the total electricity bill, so it’s best to tackle this first.
- There is a big difference between a controller and a timer. The controller checks for current during the pre-set time period, whilst a timer continuously heats and reheats the geyser during the pre-set time period.
- A geyser controller can reduce your electricity bill by 20-30%. The cost is approximately R1500 including installation by an electrician.
- Set the geyser thermostat at 65°C.
- Switch off lights and plug points – basically anything that draws a current and isn’t in use.
- Avoid using the hot water tap wherever possible (For example, wash hands in cold water).
Q1 ROI = ± 6 months
Q2 2015 – LIGHTING
- Begin with the biggest energy-eating lights (outdoor floodlights or indoor lighting) (you should usually start in the kitchen, then move on to living areas). Replace these with LED lights for a saving of at least 10-20%.
- LED lighting has low energy consumption, a long life span (20,000 hours plus) and provides a variety of lighting ambience. It also doesn’t attract insects.
- Choose a reputable lighting supplier with a quality guarantee.
- Place a brick in the cistern – this reduces the amount of water used for a flush.
- Use the calculator on the Mr Power website to measure your investment, versus return on investment
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85% of the energy used to machine wash clothes goes into heating the water.
Q2 ROI = ± 12 months
Q3 2015 – LIGHTING AND SHOWERHEAD
- Continue the transformation to LED lighting throughout your home.
- The average shower head uses 12–14 litres of water per minute, whereas water-efficient shower heads use only 7.5 litres. Install a water-efficient shower head such as the Methven SatinJet® Shower head, which saves up to 40% of the water usage per shower and thus about 10% of the associated electricity costs.
- Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth or washing your hands
- Ensure your oven door seals properly, so the heat doesn’t escape – a seal is inexpensive to replace.
- Electric hotplates and pots keep it’s temperature for several minutes after switching off, so turn off just before the cooking process is complete.
Q3 ROI = ± 6 months
Q4 2015 – FINAL TOUCHES
- Appliances and electronics consume approximately 20% of the energy in your home, so begin replacing appliances with energy efficient ones.
- Consider a pool pump controller which works in a similar way to the geyser controller.
- Check the seal on your fridge door and ensure air can circulate behind your fridge to prevent overheating and loss of energy.
- When you are away, turn the setting down on the fridge, as it won’t be opened and closed regularly, thus it will retain the cold easier.
- When on holiday, switch your geyser/s off.
- Consider a ‘water-wise’ garden, with its emphasis on indigenous plants, low maintenance and minimum extra watering, which can cut exterior water use by as much as 70%, and eliminates the need for fertilisers or pesticides.
Q4 ROI = ± 12 months
Monique Terrazas – http://www.reimag.co.za/2015/02/10/economical-environmentally-friendly-2015/