Nip energy bill in the bud

AS we head into the colder winter months, homeowners will turn up the heat, says Adrian Goslett, of a leading property agency.

But keeping warm often means using more energy and paying the associated costs. “However,” says Goslett, “there are ways that homeowners can conserve the amount of energy they use … by making a few energy-efficient changes around the home.”

Goslett gives the following energy-saving tips:

Regulate the geyserThe first place to start is the geyser. According to statistics, geysers account for as much as 40% of the total electricity bill on a monthly basis.

“… Turn off the geyser during the day and allocate hours of the day for it to be switched on … “

“[Also], have the geyser automated, so it can be digitally controlled.”

There are products available that allow the homeowner to control the thermostat on the geyser remotely. This gives the option of automatically setting the times it will be on and at what temperature.

During winter the cold piping also cools down water. This means more hot water is needed to bath or shower and more energy is used. Homeowners can reduce the energy used by insulating the pipes leading out of the geyser. Ideally, the entire length of all hot water pipes should be insulated to reduce heat loss, however, insulating at least 3 to 5m from the geyser will make a difference.

A geyser blanket can also add further insulation, keeping the water inside the geyser hotter for longer. This typically consists of a 50mm layer of glass fibre insulation with reflective foil sheeting on one side. A good geyser blanket will considerably reduce the rate at which the water cools inside the geyser.

Although costly at the outset, installing solar panels can reduce the amount of water that the geyser needs to heat up, which can reduce costs over the long term.

Energy-efficient lighting Many homeowners have already seen the benefits of using compact fluorescent light bulbs or light-emitting diodes (LED) in their homes. Both of these light bulbs use at least 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb, and can last longer.

Depending on the type of bulb, certain energy-efficient bulbs can last between 10 and 35 times longer than a regular bulb, saving on both electricity and replacement costs.

The same amount of light is created by energy-efficient bulbs, but less wattage is used. A 3-watt LED, for example, would be equivalent to a 45-watt incandescent bulb. Also, energy-efficient bulbs do not get hot when used over long periods. Not only do these bulbs reduce costs, they also reduce the household pollutant output by creating less heat.

Household appliances Appliances’ energy output, such as the fridge, can be reduced by regulating the temperature gauge; ideally, the temperature should range between 3 to 5°C.

Other appliances to check would include the washing machine, as around 40% of the energy used to wash clothing can be reduced by setting the machine at 30°C. Only using the washing machine, or dishwasher, when it has a full load will also reduce energy by keeping frequency to a minimum.

Though these items should be full, the kettle should only have the required amount of water in it.

Hanging clothes on an outside line, rather than using a tumble dryer, will also use less electricity.

Laptops will drain energy if they are left on in standby mode, turn them off or simply unplug them. A computer or laptop, for example, can use around 20% as much power as it would if it was in full use.

Unless it is necessary to have an appliance plugged in at all times, it is more energy efficient to have it unplugged, and this will also serve as protection against lighting strikes and power surges.

Insulating the home Heat can escape through areas in the home that are poorly insulted, so it is important to ensure that there are no areas that require attention, such as a window that doesn’t close properly.

Between 50% and 80% of the home’s warmth escapes through the ceiling. This can be reduced to around 3% by installing proper ceiling insulation, which will also mean less energy is required to heat the home.

“With the rising cost of electricity and worldwide depletion of resources, it is imperative to find ways not only to curb costs, but reduce carbon emissions and harm to our surroundings.

“Making energy-efficient decisions now will have a massive impact on our consumption in the future,” Goslett concludes.

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