The ESP app is back on the home screen of your phone. The traffic lights are down. And your power-bank is charged. Yup, it is loadshedding time.
Fortunately it is always a good time to adopt habits that will shed loads from your utility bills.
Here are some handy tips to help you rely less on increasingly irregular, expensive electricity. As you read down the list, make a note of two or three ideas you would like to try.
Switch off the lights and unplug your electronic devices when you are not using them.
Replace your old power-hungry light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Florescent lights shine five times as brightly, are far more economical and last up to ten times as long as ordinary bulbs.
Take advantage of natural light by ensuring any north-facing windows are unobstructed.
Table lamps on work desks and under-counter lights in the kitchen are far more efficient than overhead ceiling lights.
Use lampshades with a white liner which can hide the bulb while allowing a soft, even light to shine through.
Install light-coloured curtains to reflect sunlight and heat outward.
Pick a cold-water wash and you could save up to 90% of the energy normally used by a washing machine, which goes into heating the water. Most laundry detergents work very well with cold water, however there are specialised cold-wash detergents on the market too.
Remember to connect your washing machine to the cold in-let pipe, and not the hot tap which draws water from your geyser.
Run fewer wash loads by filling them up properly.
Don’t overload the machine or put in too much detergent, these contribute to making your machine work harder than you need it to.
Dry your cloths right by hanging them out instead of using the tumble dryer. If you have to use a tumble dryer, then run full loads, use the moisture-sensor setting and clean out the lint trap regularly. A full lint trap will block the flow of air in the heated dryer – so this will certainly make the machine use more energy than it is designed to. To remove any build-up, take out the trap and wash it with soap and water every six months.
In the bathroom
Take shorter showers. Not only are you saving water by not bathing, and therefore the heating costs associated with all that unnecessary water, but the compounded effect of a shorter shower several times a week over a lifetime will save a significant amount of water, and heating.
Never let the water run while shaving, washing hands or brushing teeth.
Cooling and heating
During winter in many part of South Africa heating rooms is one of the most significant reasons for a hike in electricity consumption. Improving your thermal insulation can save hundreds of Rands each year in heating costs and improve the comfort of your home.
Almost half of the heat in a house can be lost through poor ceiling insulation. A well-insulated ceiling will keep heating and cooling expenses low
On your air conditioning, lower your thermostat in winter and raise it in summer, an average temperature of 23˚C is economical. Position your air conditioning unit on the south side, or shady part, of the house and set it to re-use cool air instead of drawing from hot air outside.
Better still is to rely on fans to keep you cool in summer, they use far less electricity.
Make sure your windows and doors seal well, as leaks will allow outside air in, and will decrease the comfort of your home.
Like your washing machine, stack your dishwasher until it is full and afterwards interrupt the heat-drying cycle and use a cloth or let them drip-dry instead.
Get a fridge suited to your household requirements as they run optimally when full. Remember to let hot foods cool before placing them in the fridge, and always leave enough room for the cool air to circulate between items inside as this is what keeps them cool.
If your fridge has an energy-saving switch, turn it on.
Give your refrigerator coils a gentle vacuum to clean them, and clean or replace the filter in your air conditioner.
Do not set freezing temperatures lower then needed.
Instead of the oven, consider cooking with the microwave or other appliances as appropriate. Toasting bread on the oven grill is one of the more expensive ways to do it.
Set your swimming pool pump cycle to run only twice a day for three hours each time.
When you’re finished working, turn off your computers, copiers and printers at the switch.
When using a stove top, bring foods to the boil quickly using the ‘high’ setting and then let the food simmer to complete the cooking.