As we all know, a move towards using more sustainable sources of energy is vital to protect our planet from global warming. But there are benefits closer to home as well. Switching to more sustainable sources of energy helps to lower electricity bills and puts less pressure on the national grid, helping to avoid rolling blackouts.
Luckily, lowering your electricity usage and switching to more sustainable energy sources in your home is not as complicated as it seems. We’ve put together a quick guide to simple ways you can embrace more sustainable solutions in your home. They will also help cut your costs every month and once you have stocked up on alternative sources of power, light and heat it becomes a breeze to weather a few hours of (inevitable) load shedding.
Let there be (LED) light
Changing the bulbs in your home for LED options is one of the easiest ways to embrace sustainable energy in your home. LED light bulbs last longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs and use far less electricity.
If you’re keen to switch to LED light options in your home don’t forget about battery-powered options as well. Battery-powered LED lighting is an essential must-have item for South African homes. There is a wide range of rechargeable LED light strips, lanterns, and torches available on the market. Another great item to have in the home are intelligent LED light bulbs. These bulbs come in either a screw or bayonet configuration and can be used like a standard light bulb in any light fixture but they stay on during power outages as they hold charge for up to four hours.
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Opt for solar solutions
In a sunny country like ours, embracing solar powered energy is a no-brainer. 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.
Solar geysers are especially popular in South Africa and are a great way to save on electricity usage. When it comes to solar geysers there are many 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.
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Install a heat pump
For many, this is a preferred solution which, in some cases, can be even more effective than a solar geyser. 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.
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Give it gas
It is widely accepted that anything in your home that uses a heating element is one of the biggest users of electricity. The stove is a big energy gobbler, as is the geyser. Luckily, there are great gas versions of both of these essential household appliances available.
When it comes to cooking there are many different gas options available to consumers. Whether it is a large six plate gas hob and oven or just a simple, portable table-top one or two-plate gas cooker. Many people are choosing to change their ovens over from electrical to gas. Not only does this mean you can carry on your dinner preparations during a power outage, but your electricity bill will also be reduced through the introduction of gas appliances.
Gaining in popularity is also a conversion over to gas geysers. There is a wide variety on the market and the benefits with gas is that you can get almost instantaneous hot water minus the electricity usage. Of course, 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 you are using more electricity than you need to. Consider installing an electronic timer that can be programmed to only heat up when you need it to.
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Replace old appliances with new energy-efficient models
We’re not suggesting you go out and buy all new appliances, but as your old appliances need replacing, it’s worth looking at opting for energy-efficient models for your new appliances. New appliances on the market 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 is a good idea. Old household appliances use up to 40% more electricity than an Energy Star appliance.
Appliance standards and labelling regulations have been put in place in South Africa which requires appliances such as air conditioners, fridges, washing machines, and ovens to be labelled with a South African Energy Efficiency Label. This labelling system ensures that consumers are informed about the relative energy efficiency of an appliance before they decide to purchase and the energy efficiency label has been designed to provide consumers with accurate and comparable information on the energy efficiency of household appliances.
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While all the above is important in helping reduce your energy consumption at home, small changes to your behaviour can also play a big role in reducing your overall energy consumption. Things like switching off the lights when you are not in a room, having shorter showers, washing your clothes in cold water, and only running the dishwasher and washing machine when they have full loads, can help reduce your energy consumption.