The month of May marks National Energy Month. Through a few relatively simple and practical changes to the way they use electricity and fuel, South Africans can do their bit to not only save the planet, but also save themselves some serious moola – upwards of R15 000 a year.
“Fintech’s PayCurve recently indicated that nearly 80% of South Africans take out expensive, unsecured loans to service their monthly obligations. With the rising cost of electricity and fuel, as well as the ever-present risk of load shedding, we need to find innovative ways to reduce pressure on our resources and save money,” says Susan Steward from Budget Insurance, “The tweaks we can make at our homes, businesses and on the road may seem insignificant, but could amount to thousands in savings per year.”
Budget Insurance offers the following tips to save on electricity and fuel:
- Bright idea: switch to energy efficient light bulbs if you haven’t done so already. They may be more expensive, but last longer and use substantially less electricity.
- Out with the old: letting go of large appliances such as a fridge can seem counter-productive when trying to save money but newer fridges are far more energy efficient and will save you more in the long run. Appliances are graded from A to G on their efficiency, with A being the most efficient and G being the least.
- Winter warmer: Switch to more energy-efficient ways of staying warm, like using thick blankets and padded clothing instead of heaters and taking a shower instead of a water- and electricity-consuming bath.
- The habit of saving: Get your entire household to turn off any lights and appliances that are not in use, and to use them only for as long as required.
- Smart plugs for smart people: Smart plugs can be set to switch off your appliances such as TVs and sound systems entirely as opposed to putting them onto stand-by mode which guzzles power. Smart plugs typically have a companion app allowing you to set preferences, schedules and names for the devices.
- Time for timers: Timers, or smart switches – whether for geysers, pool pumps or security lights – will help you only consume electricity at specific times. Especially useful with geysers – one of the most energy consuming items in the household.
- Long-term planning: there are some bigger ways to reduce a home’s electricity consumption and should be considered as part of a longer-term investment and cost saving exercise. This includes putting in solar panels, switching out electricity-run stoves and ovens for gas and replacing air conditioning with ceiling fans and fireplaces. A pre-paid electricity meter would also be an effective way to monitor your home’s power consumption and assist with budgeting for power on a monthly basis.
With a few minor adjustments to your driving habits and with regular car maintenance, you can boost the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 40%. So, if you fill up 48 times a year at roughly R900 per tank, a 40% reduction in fuel consumption could save you over R17,000 a year.
- Service smart: A car can burn up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed on a regular schedule, so make sure that your car is serviced regularly. Things like worn spark plugs, worn rings, faulty injectors, sticky brakes, low coolant levels, dirty oil, and dirty filters all lead to inefficiency and higher fuel consumption
- Wheel wise: Check your car’s wheel alignment. Bad wheel alignment causes more friction, which takes more power to overcome and results in higher fuel consumption.
- Pressure check: Check for underinflated tyres, as these, too, increase resistance.
- Air con costs a cool buck: Use the air conditioning only when necessary, as it places additional load on the engine.
- Dead weight: Reduce the vehicle’s weight by removing unnecessary items from it and, if you mostly do city driving, consider driving with only half a tank of fuel.
- Nice and slow: Don’t speed. The gas-guzzling effects of “stepping on it” are well-known.
- Don’t stop-start: Maintain momentum by looking and planning ahead, flowing with traffic and timing your approaches to hills, traffic lights and crossings better.
- Geared for efficiency: Drive at the lowest speed in the highest gear that the road and traffic conditions allow, without labouring the engine.
- Tech savvy: Many vehicles have economy settings to optimise performance, throttle response, ride height etc. for maximum fuel efficiency. Use them to your advantage.
- Plan ahead: Use your GPS to check for traffic and avoid problem areas. Do several tasks on one round trip, as opposed to many shorter ones. This eliminates unnecessary mileage and saves time.
- Wait out the rush: Battling through traffic not only increases fuel consumption, but also causes wear and tear, especially on your vehicle’s transmission and brakes.