Energy efficiency

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency has been described as a renewable energy resource that is perfectly clean, quite cheap, abundant and immediately available. It can reduce carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on imported energy resources. It doesn’t pollute, it doesn’t depend on the weather like solar and wind power.
Energy efficiency is not about reducing heat, light or power; it is all about wasting less energy. It is not about doing less to save energy, but about doing the same or more with less energy.
We are all aware that the supply of electricity in South Africa is not enough to meet the demand. If we want to prevent those disruptive power cuts, we can make a huge contribution by applying the principles of energy efficiency in our homes.
And of course, any contribution we can make to reducing energy consumption will aid in the battle against global warming and climate change.
Here are several ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

  1. Lighting
    • Use compact flourescent lightbulbs. Only 4% of the the energy used in a normal lightbulb produces light, the rest is wasted as heat. Compact flourescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use 75% less power and most of the energy goes into producing light.
      They are more expensive than ordinary lightbulbs, but, they not only pay for themselves in energy savings in a few months, they also last 8-10 times longer.
    • Switch lights off when not in a room, modern CFLs require very little electricity to start up.
    • Dimmer switches will also reduce electricity consumption.
    • Make the most of natural light entering the house.
    • Install a skylight to lighten dark areas in the day (instead of switching on a light).
  2. Hot water cylinder (geyser)
    • Set the temperature thermostat at 55ºC-60ºC.
    • Install a timer that switches the hot water cylinder on and off during the times you specify. Alternatively you can control it manually by switching it off during the day – the water will be hot enough for normal househould use well into the night (if it does not last long enough, switch it on again in the evening about an hour before use).
    • Wrap your hot water cylinder in a ‘geyser blanket’, you can save up top 21% electricity.
    • Insulate the pipes from the hot water cylinder to reduce heat loss.
    • Consider installing a solar water heater.
    • Do not use hot water for small amounts of washing, rather wait till you have a sink-load to wash.
    • Take a 5-minute shower instead of a bath.
    • Don’t let the hot wate tap run while shaving or washing, fill the basin.
    • When washing your hands, use the cold water tap only.
  3. Heating your home in winter
    • Install ceiling insulation to keep prevent heat loss in winter (and to keep your house cool in summer).
    • Close windows, curtains and doors at night keep heat inside. Open curtains during the day to let sunlight in.
    • Cover bare/tiled floors with rugs or mats.
    • If necessary use an oil heater instead of a bar heater.
    • It is cheaper to use an electric blanket in bed instead of a heater in the bedroom.
  4. Cooling your home in summer.
    • Ceiling insulation helps keep your house cool.
    • Use fan or ceiling fan where possible instead of air conditioner as they use much less electricity.
    • Keep direct sunlight out by closing curtains or blinds during the day.
  5. Appliances
    • Buy energy efficient electronic and electrical products – an A rating is more efficient and a G rating less efficient. Products with the Energy Star label are also energy efficient.
    • Modern fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, etc also use much less energy than the models of a few years ago. Buying older models second-hand might be less costly, but it will cost you more to operate in the longer term, so you won’t be saving anything by buying cheap now.
    • Switch off your TV and video-game consoles as they still consume a lot of energy even if when on standby mode. Switch off your computer monitor when not working at the pc for a while – you can leave the pc on as it uses very little energy compared to the monitor.
    • Unplug chargers/transformers (eg cellphone chargers) when not in use.
    • A microwave oven is cheaper to operate than a stove

Do you have more useful tips – send them to us at