It was unwelcome news for South Africans to hear that electricity prices will increase by 15% next year. With more increases on the cards it seems.
Most people are very familiar with that sinking feeling of having to top up their pre-paid electricity metre yet AGAIN for the umpteenth time in a month. Your electricity bill is one of those expenses that can easily get out of hand and with price increases on the horizon, now is the time to look at ways to reduce your electricity consumption and save money in the long run.
Orlando Luis, CEO of Brights Hardware – a chain of family owned hardware stores based in the Western Cape – offers some tips on how to reduce your electricity bill every month.
“Firstly it is important to know where is your biggest electricity usage in the house. Without a doubt, geysers use the most electricity, accounting for nearly a quarter of your consumption. Following this is heating and cooling which uses about 18%, then lighting which uses about 17%. Surprisingly, appliances and electronics that are on standby use as much as 15% of your electricity, and then there is the oven which accounts for about 11%. Other smaller electronics and gadgets account for the balance of your use.”
1) Install a gas or solar powered geyser
“With geysers using the most amount of electricity, it makes sense to look for alternatives such as a gas or solar powered geyser,” says Luis.
“When it comes to solar geysers there are many different sizes and technologies that range in capacity and price – depending on how much water you use, your budget etc. Solar geysers may cost a bit more to install initially but the long-term benefit is well worth the capital cost upfront.”
There is also a wide variety of gas geysers on the market and the benefits with gas is almost instant hot water.
2) Install a heat pump
“This is one of my preferred solutions – even more effective than solar geysers,” says Luis. “A heat pump work like an air conditioning unit in reverse – it extracts heat from the ambient air surrounding it. This is then run through a heat exchanger in which the water is heated. So only a little electricity is used to run a fan and compressor while the heat energy is provided indirectly by the sun.”
3) Put a timer on your geyser
According to Luis, if you do not want to replace your current geyser system, there are ways to make it more energy efficient. Such as putting a timer on your geyser.
“You only need hot water at certain times throughout the day, and if your geyser is left on all day every day then your electricity bill will be higher than necessary. Install an electronic timer which can be programmed to only heat up when you need it to.”
4) Get a Geyser Blanket
“Geyser blankets have been proven to reduce the energy consumption of geysers through restricting ambient heat loss. They are an affordable and easy investment to help reduce your geysers electricity use.”
5) Replace old light bulbs with LED
“One of the quickest and easiest ways to save money is to use energy efficient lighting. Simply replace your old light bulbs with energy efficient LED ones,” advises Luis.
6) Change to a gas oven / stove
“Electrical ovens use a huge amount of electricity. Rather change to gas, which is cheaper to use and creates heat in an instant, unlike electric stoves which take some time to heat up. Gas stoves and ovens are also great to have during load shedding and mean no interruptions to food preparations.”
“If this investment seems a little out of your price range, consider getting a gas cylinder with a cooker top attachment which you can use instead of the stove plates.”
7) Switch off electronics and appliances when not in use
“This one requires no capital outlay to reduce your electricity bill. When you are not using the dishwasher, washing machine, radio, TV etc. then switch them off at the wall so that they do not draw any power while in standby mode. You can save up to 15% on your monthly electricity bill by doing this simple step alone,” says Luis.
8) Replace old appliances with new energy efficient models
“New appliances are made with the goal of being energy efficient and eco-friendly and so replacing old appliances with modern ones that have an energy consumption rating will save money. Old household appliances use up to 40% more electricity than an Energy Star appliance.”
9) Go solar
The ultimate solution to reduce ones electricity bill is of course to install a solar energy system in the home. However, the cost is a major consideration.
“Solar installations can range vastly in size from an entry level system that powers a few appliances and lights, through to a full home installation that takes you off the electricity grid completely. People who are interested in pursuing this avenue can do a power usage analysis and questionnaire at the Brackengate and Montague Park Brights stores. We have a qualified consultant from Dorman Projects in these two stores who will do the complete investigation and provide a full quote for UPS, battery and solar solutions to suit every independent home or business,” says Luis.