How to Save Electricity at Home - Our Moving In Checklist
This entry was posted on November 10, 2014.
Moving house can be both scary and exhilarating but most importantly, it is a chance to start over, especially when it comes to energy efficiency and getting geared up for the future.
My housemate and I recently found a lovely little cottage that we fell in love with and managed to snap it up on the day it was advertised. While preparing for the great move we decided to put some plans into motion with regard to appliances as our old faithful power hungry appliances were just costing too much for us to keep. We also had to think about what we could do to reduce the energy usage of fixed appliances, such as our geyser. Here's what we did.
First of all, we bought most of our appliances through friends and Gumtree but will look at upgrading them once we have the funds available. Buying second-hand goods is also much cheaper and a great way to recycle products. However, we had to do a bit more research in terms of the energy usage of these items.
We initially managed to get a good deal from family friends of ours for a little electric stove and grill. Although it still has a fairly high power consumption (1500W max) it is still lower than a standard free standing oven and stove (3500W max). We have recently been lucky enough to procure a gas oven and stove which means no more cooking electrical bills.
Many people don't actually realise how much power these appliances use, especially the older units. Because they are used all day they are a subtle power vampire. We managed to get a CFC free, A-rated unit, but we would love to find an A++ rated unit at a later date. The Bosch range is one of my favourites but a number of manufacturers are releasing a wide range of energy efficient appliances.
This was one of my favourite buys. Our old tube televisions use a lot of power. If you are looking to upgrade, the LED flat screen is the way to go.
When it comes to shopping for appliances, please do yourself a favour and ask what the power rating of the unit is. Do NOT accept the annual usage. This is calculated according to test conditions which may be vastly different to your personal usage. If the consultant cannot tell you and there is no information in the brochure then turn around and walk away. This means that it uses far more power than necessary and will cost you more in the long run.
Another marketing ploy to watch out for is energy ratings. Some manufacturers have started their own rating system where they rate their appliances on how efficient they are compared to the last model and not on the actual international standards. Again, always ask for the actual power rating. I have made a list of what sort of power usage you can expect from efficient appliances. Unfortunately, appliances that generate heat do not fall into this category.
- * Refrigerator/ Freezer - 200W or less.
- * Television - 150W or less.
- * Indoor Lights - 20W or less
Once we had moved in, we decided to apply certain little tricks of the trade to keep our electrical costs low.
If you do not have a geyser timer, simply switch your geyser off at the DB board. This switch normally has HWC (Hot Water Cylinder) underneath it.
This is probably the most power-hungry appliance in your house. You want your usage to drop? Try it. You will be amazed! We only use our geyser when we want to bath or shower. If it is a hot day, it does not take a long time for the geyser to warm up. An hour at most. If it is a cold day you just need to leave it on for a little longer or get a geyser blanket which retains the heat. Another trick of the trade is to switch off the geyser before running the water. This way it will not try to heat up the cold water coming in while you are bathing/ showering and save on electricity. But really, this would be my number one tip!
If you really enjoy cooking we suggest you look at investing in a gas unit. Otherwise try to reduce cooking as much as possible. Perhaps 3 times or less a week. In the month that we have been living in our new cottage, we have cooked about 3 or 4 times and normally quick stir-fries. Braais are also a great way to save electricity and us South Africans certainly love to braai! Instead of using normal tree logs, get yourself a couple of bags of Eco-logs. These are made from grapeseed oil. Not only are they environmentally friendly, they burn for a longer period of time. Alternatively, the Wonderbag is great for saving electricity when slow cooking. Heat insulation keeps the pot cooking long after it's been taken off the stove.
Turn the thermostat up! This is a great little hint that I have picked up through my research. Many people don't realise that their fridge doesn't need to be so cold. A refrigerator/ freezer is thermostatically controlled so the colder the fridge has to be the more work it has to do. This is why it is important to keep the fridge door closed. If the temperature of the fridge rises the motor switches on to cool it down. We have our thermostat on 3 and hardly notice any difference in the temperature but enjoy great savings on our electrical bill. This was recently confirmed by a refrigeration specialist - 3 in summer, 2.5 in winter. Keeping ice in the freezer will also keep the temperature down.
If you are not using something, switch the plug off! Most appliances draw power even when on standby. These are silent vampires that cost you a lot of money in the long run. I have seen some smart plugs that actually switch themselves off when not in use and have been doing some research into getting them stocked on Sustainable.co.za so watch this space!
With summer on its way, heating is not something that is on our minds at the moment. But our cottage has very high ceilings which guarantees that we will be freezing in unpleasant weather. Any electrical appliance that generates heat uses a lot of power. With this in mind, we have stocked up on eco-logs to use in our fireplace, hot water bottles and lots of blankets. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to have a fireplace, gas heaters are another way to go. Alternatively, use an electric blanket for an hour to warm up the bed before going to sleep. These use substantially less electricity than heaters.
Transforming your home into an energy efficient household may seem like a lot of work, but it really isn't. We have thoroughly enjoyed improving our cottage and the savings on our electrical bill is just one of the rewards. We also know that when it is time to switch to a renewable energy solution, we will be ready. With the environment and climate in the state that it is in at the moment as well as the appalling service from Eskom, can we really afford not to?