Eskom has again called on South Africans to save electricity, especially in the winter months ahead. In particular, it recommends switching off energy-intensive appliances like geysers and pool pumps during high electricity usage times in the evenings, which span 5pm to 9pm.
“The evening peaks are a big issue for us. We need an extra power station just for those four hours. If everyone were to switch off their geysers and pool pumps during high electricity usage times in the evening, this could save up to 2 940MW. This is enough to power three cities the size of Durban, Port Elizabeth or Bloemfontein,” says Eskom’s Hillary Joffe.
To help us save money on our winter electricity bills, Eskom has also recommended that we only use electric heaters that are controlled by thermostats, to switch on electric blankets only an hour before going to bed, and only to heat rooms that are in use.
To add to these savings, you should switch off appliances like TVs, computers and radios on standby mode, as this still uses up to 50 percent of the electricity the appliance would normally use. Electricity also still trickles into cellphone chargers left on.
“If every household makes some minor changes, we can lower our collective electricity use by 10 percent,” says Joffe.
“This means that we will reduce our monthly energy costs and reduce the demand on the national grid, while at the same time doing our bit to save the planet.”
Your geyser is the biggest electricity guzzler. It is accountable for up to 40 percent of your electricity bill each month. This is because it works on a thermostat and each time it cools down to below the set temperature, it goes into action, heating the water again, whether hot water is needed or not.
So the first thing to do, says Joffe, is check that the thermostat is on 60°C. “It sounds low, but 60°C is more than warm enough for a bath or shower, and it saves significantly on your bill. An electrician or plumber can set it,” she says.
If you’re only using the geyser to bath or shower, switch it off until two hours before you need to wash. “It takes about two hours to heat a 210-litre geyser to 60°C,” says Joffe. And always remember to switch it off when you’re away.
To further save on geyser energy, you can buy a geyser blanket (drapes over the geyser and contains heat), and to save on heating, insulate the ceiling.
Between the geyser and heaters, you’re looking at 55 percent of your bill in winter. Other measures such as switching off lights in unoccupied rooms, installing a wood-burning fireplace and using gas heaters and energy-saving light bulbs and appliances will also cut your electricity bill.
Of course, there are a whole lot of other daily household chores that account for the rest of the bill, so to make savings more significant, Verve asked Eskom for tips on how we might economise and to give us some costings we can relate to.
l Use an electric kettle to boil water rather than boiling water on the stove. When you are boiling the kettle, don’t fill the kettle to the brim. Only boil the water you need.
l When using your washing machine, use the warm water setting. It reduces the energy needed to heat water. Also, only do full loads of washing, not small loads.
l Avoid the tumble-dryer. They are high energy consumers, and it’s more environmentally friendly to hang washing on the line.
l Iron low-temperature fabrics first to reduce the iron’s warm-up time, and use a thermostatically-controlled iron.
l Use a pressure cooker to prepare foods that normally have a lengthy cooking time such as some vegetables, rice and certain cuts of meat.
l Make sure the oven doors stay closed until food is fully cooked.
l Use pots and pans that completely cover stove plates.
l Keep the fridge door closed. The more you open it, the more energy it uses to maintain its temperature.
How much it costs...
IN THE KITCHEN
l To boil a kettle of cold water – R0.23.
l To wash up crockery under running hot water for five minutes – R3.43
l To bake a cake or do a roast for 40 minutes at 180°C – R1.83
l To cook a stew at 150°C for two hours – R5.50
l To run two electric hot-plates on medium heat for 30 minutes – R0.94
IN THE BATHROOM
l To have a half-full bath, comfortably warm – R4.41.
l To have a warm shower for five minutes – R2.86.
l To run an average load of a dishwasher, without the prewash cycle, at an average temperature – R4.50
l To run an average load of a dishwasher, with the prewash-cycle , at an average temperature – R5.91
l To run a washing machine cycle with both prewash and spin cycles – R5.00
l To run a washing machine cycle without the prewash, but with spin cycle – R3.44
l To do a batch of ironing for 30 minutes, with a thermostatically controlled steam iron – R0.94
l To run a vacuum cleaner for half an hour – R0.75.
l To run a medium-sized oil heater on medium heat for an hour – R0.63
l To run a fan heater on medium power for an hour – R0.80
(in an average South African household)
l Geyser: 39-40%
l Heating and cooling: 16%
l Pool pump: 11%
l Lights: 6%
l Laundry: 3%
l Cold storage: 5%
l Stove and oven: 7%