Over the next few weeks we will be looking at energy efficiency. Although we enjoyed fairly cheap electricity until recently, South Africa’s rapid industrialisation has pushed consumption sky-high, a negative consequence of this growth being that we are one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses. While policy will dictate how business and industry need to adapt, homeowners can take the first step by changing their consumption habits. You use way more energy than you might think!
None of the tips and tricks below require a major change in lifestyle and could easily be implemented within a few days.
• Solar geysers will be discussed at length in upcoming weeks but you can start saving today by reducing the temperature of your geyser to around 55 degrees Celsius. You can also switch it off if you plan on being out the house for prolonged periods.
• Any dry food that needs to be cooked (beans, samp) can be soaked overnight in cold water. This saves time, money and hours behind the stove (an idea for bachelors then!)
• Unless you have had a red wine accident or have been mountain biking in mud, you can skip the washing machine's pre-wash cycle and use up to 20 percent less power. Washing clothes in cold water is also more energy efficient.
• Never leave appliances on stand-by mode. Each appliance may only draw a minute amount of power but collectively these appliances may account for up to ten percent of a households consumption.
• Use gas where possible as it is more efficient for heating and cooking.
• Choose Energy Star rated appliances where possible as they use up to 40 percent less electricity.
A handy list of easy-to-follow advice can be found at the Western Cape Government website.
The benefits of making your home energy efficient are often immediate and will reflect on your monthly statement from City Power. You would have to be aware of the rebound effect which refers to behaviours that society exhibit when new technologies, such as energy efficient appliances, are introduced. Initially you might save by fitting new light bulbs, but if you install under-floor heating you will offset the saving.
There are other benefits to being energy efficient though these are long term and would require a mass buy-in to have a lasting affect: less strain on the power grid and by implication, lower likelihood of economy crippling blackouts; reduced strain on finite resources such as coal and lower pollution levels.