THE Green Building Council of SA’s My Green Home campaign is aimed at reducing domestic electricity, water and waste. Since April this year, the Ngewena family has lowered its impact on the planet by practicing an energy-efficient indoor lifestyle in accordance with the campaign’s goals.
The Ngewenas’ efforts have resulted in a 40% reduction in consumption, plus considerable cash savings on its utility bills.
Water heating: 33%
The Ngewenas managed to cut their electrical consumption by 20% after switching off the geyser for a period every day and adjusting the water temperature to 55°C. They saw the most immediate results after changing their daily indoor behaviour – once the whole family started taking shorter showers and smaller baths.
The installation of retrofits to prove the possibilities of longer-term benefits of reduced consumption and utility bills is also part of the GBCSA campaign. This exercise shows that although initial layout costs for installations, including the rooftop solar heater, heat pump and low-flow shower may seem prohibitive at the time, they pay off in cash savings over the long term.
Immediate affordability for some families however, may necessitate cheaper solutions. Electrical experts say smaller adjustments, such as geyser timers and blankets, are worth the effort.
Interior heating: 30%
The GBCSA advises consumers to seek out greener buildings to buy or rent. Energy-wise owners and landlords have a vested interest in modern retrofits, passive heating in sunny orientations and insulation.
Older houses can benefit from modern technology to optimise energy efficiency by avoiding outdated electrical heaters. Good old-fashioned, wood- burning fires are also a good way to go.
Property developers say renewable energy sources can facilitate the production of biofuels, for instance when recycled domestic waste is converted into biogases for electricity consumption. Newly-built, energy-efficient houses also make healthier homes when geofuels are used to fire non-polluting wood burners, which eliminates the need for electrical heaters.
Instant results are seen when households switch lights off in empty rooms, and after converting to compact fluorescent bulbs.
Cooking, laundry: 15%
“Techies” say the use of modern appliances combined with planned meals and limited use of ovens, helps to increase overall savings. Likewise, modern washing machines allow cold and shorter cycles, while air drying cuts down on tumble drying and ironing costs. – Private Property