Bringing down the bills
As the cost of living continues to rise, reducing those figures that seem to magically and frighteningly, appear on your utility bills has become a priority for everyone. Before you start turning off your geyser and switching off every light, it is important to get to grips with the amount of energy your home needs every month, so that you can live in relative or absolute comfort. The right approach to cutting back on expenses begins with getting real about your bills. You may absolutely not use as many lights at home, but you can’t really cut down on your grocery bill when you’re already budgeting for it to the cent. Get real about your bottom-line living costs, and don’t be shy to snip off the excess.
The age-old advice
Of course, turning off your geyser at certain times of the day, turning off unnecessary lights, and becoming pedantic about your energy usage can help. Finding new ways to reduce your energy consumption in your kitchen however can be tricky. We outline a few bright ideas below to assist you in this regard:
Cook less frequently
Cooking less frequently will save you time, energy, and electricity. We suggest: • Plan ahead: Rather than boiling up a half pot of rice, boil up a full one and freeze the rest for leftovers. There are health and meal plan benefits to this: rice is a complex carbohydrate, and a great source of essential nutrients. Moreover, cooking rice for a meal you’ve planned for later in the week will save you time during meal preparation sessions. Big bonus: rice goes with just about anything! • Plan your meals: Sticking to a meal plan will also help you cook more infrequently, as you’ll be able to cook ingredients ahead of time, and combine items as you go through the week. • Adopt a seasonal approach: Cooking during the hotter months of the year is overrated and unnecessary. Adapt your family’s meals and menus in line with the seasons, and opt for more salads and similar items during summer. • Use your microwave more often: It’s quicker and more energy efficient to use your microwave when warming or reheating food, when compared with doing so on your stove. • Make a braai night: Contact your neighbours, and call up your friends. A weekly braai night is a great excuse to cut back on cooking, and catch up with the important people in your life.
Let the light in
Open your curtains and blinds, and let natural light illuminate your home during the day. That’ll reduce your home’s reliance upon electricity, but there’s one other thing you must do to make sure you’re truly winning: check how well your windows and doors seal. Well-sealed windows and doors will help you keep your heating costs down, as your home will retain heat better.
Unplug your unused electronics
This has been the subject of much conversation in my life, but the facts remain: unplugging unused electronics can help you cut back on your utility bills. Appliances that are left plugged in when unused can contribute up to 10% extra usage of electricity. Do you need to snip 10% off your bill? Unplug everything you’re not using right now.
Avoid the electric blanket
On colder nights, don’t unpack your electric blanket. Instead, unfold one of your favourite winter blankets, and tuck it under the sheet on your bed. Once you’re in bed, you’ll soon feel toasty warm, because that cosy blanket will retain some of your body heat. For extra warmth, roll an extra winter blanket out under your duvet or comforter, and turn yourself into a happy, warm winter blanket sandwich.
Use the sunshine
Solar-powered lights in your garden can be used to light up pathways, walkways, and even around the swimming pool. Use the sunshine we enjoy every day, and you can cut back on installing expensive and energy-guzzling lights across most of your garden or outdoor living areas.
Repaint your walls
Dark colours absorb more light, so, while that lovely dark blue wall idea you have in your head may look nice, it won’t look that great when your electricity bill escalates. Paint the walls of your home with a light colour, and you’ll spend less time and money turning lights on.
And, lastly, if monitoring your electricity consumption is something you feel compelled to do more closely, it may be time to convert. Move away from monthly billing, and find out how to install a prepaid electricity meter for your home. You’ll then be equipped to monitor your usage by the unit.