The options include:

Installing a solar water heater

Many think they cannot afford solar but ask yourself if you can afford to continue paying 40 to 60% of your electricity bill for a job the sun can do for free, for most of the year. Solar water heaters replace geysers and generally have a pay-back period of 4 – 6 years.  If you don’t have the money for solar water heating, you could even go for a loan and watch as the investment pays for itself in a few years.

Considering a heat pump for hot water

If your home doesn’t get enough sunlight due to being covered by shade, you can find an alternative in a heat pump, which works like an air conditioner in reverse, using less than half the electricity of a normal geyser. Its cost is similar or slightly cheaper than a solar heater but also pays itself over a couple of years.

Buying a variable-speed pool pump

A variable-speed pool pump is the best kept secret in home energy savings. Most pool owners use 750w and 1100w pumps, but these new models use only 150w to 300w at their lowest settings. You can also watch with pride as your investment pays off with a significant drop in your utility bill within a few years.

Using a closed-combustion wood stove or fireplace

For space heating, modern, closed-combustion fireplaces and wood stoves do a great job while vastly improving efficiency by controlling the flow of air.

Ceiling insulation

Without ceiling insulation you’re most likely losing heat in the winter and getting too much in the summer through the roof. Depending on your type of roof, you can get for instance, a layer of glass wool or blown-in cellulose made from recycled paper, which can cut heating costs by a quarter.

Buying energy efficient appliances

From refrigerators to washing machines, tumble dryers, ovens and televisions, you should always check the energy label when buying appliances. This is one way of ensuring your home has got the right appliances that can help you save. As these labels are still voluntary in South Africa, if you don’t see the rating label, you can safely assume that the appliance is not efficient.

Installing a dual-flush toilet

Old fashioned toilets use between 9 and 13 litres of water per flush, while a modern dual flush one uses a maximum of 6 litres, or 3 for a half flush. Numbers don’t lie and this can bring you a big saving in your water bill.

Ceiling fans instead of air conditioning

If the summer heat is nudging you towards air conditioning, try a ceiling fan first, which is more cost effective than an air conditioner, using as little as a tenth of electricity to run.

Air conditioner for heating

If you do have an air conditioner remember that it is more effective to use an air conditioner than most other electrically powered interior space heating appliances.

Gas stoves and heaters

Using gas has the advantage over electricity in supplying instant heat, whether it’s heating a room or pot on the stove. Another advantage is that gas stoves and heaters also give you the peace of mind of continuing to work when there’s load-shedding or blackouts. Although gas, like coal, is a fossil fuel it emits less harmful emissions than coal fired electrical power stations and is therefore, less damaging to the environment than electrically powered stoves and heaters.