Dealing with electricity price hikes

25 March 2014

Electricity price hikes are another price increase consumers must anticipate. But forewarned is forearmed. Electricity usage always goes up during winter. Nicolette Dirk looked at how you can save on electricity costs.

The lights factor

According to Liza Bright, Eveready brand manager, lighting accounts for seven per cent of a typical household’s energy bill. This means that cutting down on your lighting bill is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money.

“Changing which bulbs you use, and how you use them will instantly save energy and money,” says Bright.

Replace bulbs

Bright says there are two main types of energy saving lamps available in South Africa namely, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

“CFLs are what you typically think of as an energy saving lamps. CFLs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a traditional incandescent light bulb with a CFL of the same brightness will save you around R122 per year, or R666 over the lifetime of the bulb,” says Bright.

She adds that LEDs are available to fit both types of fittings and are particularly good for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights.
“Though more expensive to buy initially, they are more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term. By replacing halogen down lighters in your home with LED alternatives, you could save around R132 a year per bulb on your electricity bills,” says Bright.

Turn lights off

Bright says that changing how we use our lights by implementing control mechanisms and being conscious of our habits can save money and energy.

Tips to help you start saving:

  • Always turn lights off when leaving a room regardless of how short a period it is for
  • Be conscious of how many lights you have on and whether they all need to be in use
  • Arrange light switches so that its convenient to turn them off i.e. place switches at top and bottom of stairs, each end of a hallway and each door to a room.
  • Use a sensor and timer on external lights so they are only in use when they need to be.
  • Use appropriate lightings i.e. a low background light while watching television and a concentrated light for reading. Having a range of lights in a room with separate switches will make this easier.

Keep a check your household appliances:

Geyser: According to Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, your geyser guzzles 39% of your monthly energy usage.
“Don’t’ forget to insulate the geyser and water pipes,” says Phasiwe.
Shower: It uses less water than bathing and using less hot water means less work for the geyser. Eskom advises consumers to opt for aerated shower head as it uses less water.
Refrigeration: Phasiwe says you should close your fridge door quickly so it doesn’t use extra power to get back to its optimal cooling level.
Temperature control: Eskom advises consumers to keep room temperature between 18 to 22 degrees as this is known as the ‘golden zone’. Rather use extra clothes, blankets and hot water bottles to keep warm without using extra heaters.

Have a checklist on your daily routines:

  • Keep your morning shower hot and short. Phasiwe says this way you will lighten the load on the morning peak.
  • Boil as much as you need for that morning cup of tea/coffee
  • Take food out of the freezer for dinner and put it in the fridge to thaw. It will save on cost using the microwave to defrost it later.
  • Unplug your cellphone charger before you leave the house. The charger draws electricity even when your cellphone is not plugged in.
  • Turn off your office lights if you sit near a window or a skylight. Use natural light instead.
  • Encourage your company to switch your building’s lighting to energy efficient lighting technologies.
  • Turn off all the office equipment, catering equipment and unnecessary lights before you leave in the evenings. Air conditioning can even be turned off an hour or so before you leave.
  • At home cook smart by using lids and ensure that the pot or pan you’re using completely covers the stove plate.
  • Cook in the microwave whenever you can, it is the most energy efficient cooking appliance.
  • Only turn the heat on in the rooms that you’re going to spend time in, and rely on the built-in thermostat to turn heaters off automatically.

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