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Creating an energy-efficient home


South Africans are truly feeling the pinch. With the recent Vat increase, a hike in the fuel price and a shrinking economy, we are all trying to save money wherever possible. Fewer people are travelling and many are opting to stay at home rather than go out.

Staying in no longer means playing board games around the dining room table or relaxing with a book in hand. These days everyone is on a gadget, plugged into a TV or streaming on a laptop. And when you’re home, let’s be honest, you’re eating more, so are most likely opening the fridge on a regular basis, using the oven or stove and boiling the kettle more often. With the cost of electricity due to increase again soon, even staying at home will become more costly. This means it’s time to make smarter buying decisions for the home that use less energy and water around the house.

When shopping around for new appliances for the home, look for the energy rating. South African law stipulates that all household appliances have to display an energy efficient label. Appliances are ranked from A to G, with A being the best rating and G being the least efficient. So look out for this, especially when you’re shopping for energy-intensive items like a new washing machine, dishwasher or fridge. They might cost more than less energy-efficient products, but they save heaps in the long run.

Many houses still make use of incandescent bulbs. These bulbs use a lot of energy. Consider swapping all or some of the bulbs in your house to fluorescent ones, which produce less heat and are way more efficient.

Do you leave your chargers plugged in and the wall plug switched on? You will be surprised at how much energy this uses. Unplug these when not in use and, over time, you will end up using less energy.

Swap some electrical appliances for gas. For example, instead of using an electric heater, consider switching to one that uses gas. Plus, with loadshedding now officially on the cards again, it’s good to know that there are alternatives to electricity.

According to Eskom, of all the energy-using activities in your home, water heating uses the most. Replacing your entire geyser may be a drastic move, but a great way to keep the warmth of the geyser without using as much energy is to buy a geyser blanket or install a geyser timer that switches it on and off at certain times of the day. You can also turn down the temperature of your geyser to 60 degrees celsius.

When cooking on the stove, put the lids of your pots on. When the lids are off, evaporation and steam causes energy to be lost. Even better than cooking with a pot with a lid is cooking in a pressure cooker. These handy cooking appliances cook foods quicker than a regular pot and, therefore, use less energy. You also use less water to cook with a pressure cooker so that’s being water-wise too.

We understand that not everyone is able to install a solar panel to power their home, but there are some smaller solar-powered devices that you can use to reduce your energy use. Solar lights are great for outdoor areas, while solar lamps can be used on bedside tables. Use solar chargers and power banks to power your phone or cool down with a solar fan. If you can afford it, consider using a solar heating system for your geyser. Studies have shown that making this switch can reduce energy costs by up to 24% in everyday households, while a geyser that uses a heat pump instead of a conventional electrical element, uses 22% less electricity.

In the long-run, household tweaks and improvements will make a big difference to your electricity and energy usage.

Kevin Tucker is the CEO of PriceCheck. 

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