South Africans were hit hard by loadshedding in March 2019, with certain areas of the country experiencing two-hour blackouts up to three or four times a day. It had many wondering: “if it’s this bad now, what is it going to be like in winter?”
Well, only time will tell on that score, but what’s certain is that electricity consumption increases significantly during winter months, as people rely on the power of electrical heating to stave off the encroaching cold. Whether you’re concerned about the strain it will place on the national grid, or are simply looking for ways to reduce your tariffs, now is a good time to look into energy-saving measures.
Energy-saving tips for homeowners this winter
Many homeowners may be looking for ways to get off the grid, or at least become less reliable on Eskom, but you don’t have to take such drastic measures to keep your utility bills down. Just a few small changes can result in large savings.
The first thing you need to do is identify which appliances are using the most electricity. That allows you to prioritise your cost-saving measures. Thankfully, there are numerous studies that have already done that work for you.
Eskom themselves released a report in 2015, ranking items according to how much they contribute to the energy bill. To no one’s surprise, geysers consume the vast proportion of electricity. Here is the list in full, taken from businesstech.co.za.
- Geyser 39%
- Space Heating 16%
- Other 12%
- Stove & Oven 7%
- Lights 6%
- Cold Storage 5%
- Laundry 3%
- Pool Pump 11%
- Other Cooking 1%
Once you’ve pinpointed the potential areas for improvement, you can decide what sort of changes you want to make, and ooba home loans can advise you on how any prospective renovations will affect the value of your home.
Most of the energy-saving measures mentioned here will not require you to break the bank or make any major alterations, but whatever investments you do make can serve you in the long-term by increasing the value of your home.
Turning off your geyser during set periods of the day costs you nothing, and will reduce your energy usage significantly. Such a simple act can be more effective than any number of costly energy-efficient solutions.
But if you don’t trust yourself to remember when to turn the geyser off or on, there are products that can automate the process for you. A geyser timer, which can be purchased for around R200 to R500, can activate the geyser during periods of the day when you are most likely to require heated water, which for most people will be morning and evening. A geyser usually takes around 2 to 3 hours to heat water; you’ll want to take that into account when scheduling the geyser timer.
Space heating is usually the second biggest culprit during winter, and as with the geyser, some relatively simple procedures will help you conserve significant amounts of energy. Insulating your home will prevent heat from escaping, thereby requiring less energy to keep rooms warm.
According to DIY and Industrial Trade News, homeowners can prevent around 20-35% of heat loss by insulating their ceiling. This will also benefit you during summer by keeping heat out of the home as well.
Other heat-saving measures include only heating rooms you are currently in, and keeping doors and windows closed when the electrical heater is on.
Keeping your home bright may not use up nearly as much electricity as keeping it warm, but replacing incandescent lights with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) is a simple and cost-effective way to reduce energy usage. According to Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA), replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs will reduce electricity consumption by around 80% to 90%. While the Eskom report only credited lights with an average 6% of energy usage, it all adds up at the end.
Other household appliances
The geyser, heating and lighting are the three areas that tend to receive the most attention when it comes to energy-efficiency, but you can conserve a lot of energy by being more strategic in your use of miscellaneous appliances. For example:
- Hanging clothes on the line to dry, rather than using a tumble dryer
- Cooking on an induction hob rather than a stove
- Regulating your refrigerator temperature
- Switch off plug points when you’re not using the attached appliances (some appliances use electricity even when they’re in standby mode)
Energy-efficiency is a buzzword for home buyers, and will only increase in importance as people become more environmentally conscious. The long-term benefits make it a factor you should take into account when looking to buy a home. ooba home loans, South Africa’s leading home loan comparison service, makes the home-buying process easier by offering a range of home loan calculators that help you determine what you can afford. You can start with ooba’s free, online prequalification tool, the ooba Bond Indicator. Then, once you’ve found a home that meets your requirements, you can apply for a home loan.