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Even in a relatively warm country like South Africa, electricity usage skyrockets when winter comes around each year. In addition to this, electricity costs are still on the rise.
Luckily, there are quick, long-term energy saving solutions that homeowners can implement as we go into winter.
Homeowners can use their own discretion as to how much they want to save and invest in energy efficiency, but most will find that even small changes could make a noticeable difference this season.
Cala van der Westhuizen, Head of Marketing and Sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions, shares tips on how homeowners can save electricity this winter.
1 Mind the lights
Learning to better manage lighting can have a measurable effect on a household’s electricity spend. This is especially evident during winter, when the sun rises later and sets earlier.
One of the first things you can do is to replace all your conventional bulbs with highly efficient LED lighting. These typically require a tenth of the energy needed to power conventional bulbs.
Secondly, it is important to remember to only keep the lights on in the rooms that you use.
For those who are so inclined, take efficient lighting even further with intelligent circuits that automatically switch off lights in unused rooms.
2 Insulation is key
Insulation is a low-cost measure with the biggest impact on reducing energy consumption.
Make sure that the home’s ceilings are properly insulated, and seal cracks or gaps in windowsills and door frames. For the homeowner with money to invest, double glazing for windows and sliding doors is the next step.
3 Heating water
Water heating accounts for over half of the average home’s electricity spend.
During winter, the amount of energy needed to heat water increases since regular geysers are not efficient at keeping heat from escaping.
Insulate exposed hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and turn down the geyser’s maximum temperature to 60 degrees celsius (from 50 degrees celsius in summer). This still provides enough hot water for the home, while using less energy.
You can stretch your savings even further by investing in a heat pump and hot water storage system. The system uses about a third of the total energy that would be used with a conventional geyser, and loses less than 3 degrees celsius during a 24-hour cycle even if placed outside.
The system can cut the home’s electricity costs by an estimated 50%.
4 Heating the home
Heaters account for a substantial portion of the home’s electricity spend. One of the quickest remedies is to replace all conventional heaters with wall heaters.
In a properly insulated home, these use significantly less energy while maintaining a comfortable temperature.
Installing a modern fireplace is also one of the best ways to quickly and cheaply heat a home.
5 Don’t forget your laundry
A tumble dryer is often a lifesaver during winter, especially in areas with winter rainfall. However, running a dryer for two hours a day, five days a week adds another R240 to the average Pretoria or Cape Town home’s monthly electricity bill.
It is best to view a dryer as something you should only indulge in on occasion. Try to only do laundry on sunny days or lighten the load with an energy efficient dryer.
6 Go all out
Finally, a homeowner can opt for a complete integrated solution, like Energy Partners Home Solutions’ ICON Home Energy Hub and photovoltaic (PV) system. This can reduce a home’s yearly electricity costs by as much as 80%.
While a complete system could cost upwards of R80 000, there are financing options available to bring these systems within the reach of qualifying homeowners.
With each passing winter becoming more and more expensive, homeowners need to adopt an energy-saving mindset at every available opportunity.