If you're keeping up with the latest news, you'll know that Eskom is pushing for another price increase on electricity. The numbers getting thrown around range between 9 and 12%, which is not something to laugh about. In fact, it should be considered a wake-up call to start saving where you can. Small investments right now are going to save you loads of money as the next three years bring yet another big rise in electric unit costs. It's unfortunate that extra measures need to be taken, but how many increases can you really afford without taking matters into your own hands? For all South Africans who want to change the tide on their electric bill, here are some things you can do.
The Main Focus Should Be Your Geyser
The most significant difference you can make starts with the geyser. We'll get to the smaller things you can do, but considering that your geyser is responsible for half of the bill, it's probably the first thing you want to take control of. If you want more specific info on how your geyser works, feel free to read our articles about geyser calculations and the overall anatomy.
- Thermal Blanket
The most inexpensive thing you can do to help the geyser maintain its temperature for longer, is to wrap it in a thermal blanket. They only cost around R150 and they come in several sizes. The more you can insulate the geyser, the better.
- Geyser Timer
There's still a big debate whether it actually saves money to switch off the geyser. Some people think it only takes more energy, but the truth is it doesn't. A geyser can automatically switch on up to 30 times a day, even when there is nobody there to use the hot water. But by installing a timer, which can cost as little as R250 for a basic model, you can set the geyser to heat up only when necessary. For more information on how efficient a timer can be, look at our geyser timer article. To put this into perspective, consider the fact that you'll cut your warm water cost by up to 67% if the geyser only heats up once within a 2 hour period. Now you just have to ask yourself, how many baths do you take on a daily basis and when do they happen?
- Eco Element
It's no secret that the elements in the geyser are the culprits using huge amounts of energy. Yes, many geysers come with two elements. However, there is a way of replacing the source of the problem. Eco elements use a different type of technology through ceramic chips. The result is about 50% less energy going to waste. For those who are interested in seeing the differences between Eco elements and traditional resistance wire elements, please read our detailed options article.
- Solar Geyser
Not everyone can afford to make the direct transformation to solar energy. In some cases a gradual change suits the budget a little better, which is why households typically start with solar geysers. It wipes out all costs you'd associate with warm water for a very long time. Depending on the size of the family, a basic setup costs an average of R4000. More info on how solar geysers work can be found here.
Every Drop Counts
Now that the biggest problem has been addressed, it's time to target some smaller things around the house. At face value the following problems might not seem significant enough to care about, but throw them together and you've basically got the other half of the electric bill. In this case it really pays of to pay attention.
Despite the fact that the South African government has banned the import of traditional, incandescent lights, they are still getting staked at stores across the country. The fact is they are affordable and they provide a fairly warm atmosphere. Unfortunately, they also become a drain on energy, because they aren't very efficient. We just happen to have an informational article on LED lights if you want more info on how they save you money. The pricing on more efficient lights have dropped dramatically and deserve some attention.
Just like some people believe it's better to leave a fluorescent on, others think computers deserve the same treatment. However, both of these are incorrect. Fluorescent lights don't require a lot of energy when they get switched on, and neither do modern computers. In fact, many electrical appliances continue to draw small streams of electricity, for example radios, digital microwaves and chargers. On their own they don't seem relevant, but start adding these small streams on a monthly basis. Then you'll start to notice the difference.