With South African electricity prices increasing by a further 15% recently, consumers are going to either have to find more money to pay those monthly bills, or look at ways to cut down on energy use. Fortunately, there are basic day-to-day practices that can lower your energy consumption, as well as more innovative methods and technology you can install for long-term energy savings. Here’s a look at the 7 ways to lower your energy usage.
- Power off and unplug
Your home appliances that are plugged in but not actually powered up could be using up to 75% of your household electricity. These ‘phantom loads’ as they’re known, are the energy being drawn by television, computers, microwaves and even washing machines which are in standby mode. You have the option of turning off or unplugging all the electronic appliances, or installing a smart power strip (or advanced power strip) which will shut off power to electronics that are not in use after a period of inactivity.
Technological advances over the past few years have taken huge strides in the realm of energy ratings. This means that older appliances, which may still be operational, are actually costing you a lot more in the long run. As and when the budget allows, the best thing to do is start replacing older, less environmentally-friendly appliances with ones that have A energy ratings. This is particularly important for energy-draining appliances such as fridges, freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers.
A very simple and budget-effective way to lower your household energy use is to replace those traditional, incandescent lightbulbs with more energy-efficient alternatives. The light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) can use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent lightbulbs. They might cost a little more but are much longer lasting and cheaper to run, so the extra expense is quickly offset.
- Install timers
Your geyser, as well as any other heating or cooling devices, draw a lot of energy, but they don’t need to be running all the time. You can install a programmable timing device which allows you to plan around the times you’ll need hot water for showering. For those living in cooler climates, a timer on your heating device will also prevent energy waste – the same for air-conditioning units. And, if you’re able to swop out your energy-heavy older air-conditioning units for more cost-effective inverter airconditioner, you’ll save further.
Another overlooked aspect is the maintenance of your home appliances to ensure that they’re working at their optimum and not drawing energy unnecessarily. By scheduling regular services for items such as air-conditioning units and laundry equipment, you’re getting ahead of any potential problems that will cause your machine to overwork, thereby drawing on too much energy. For homes and businesses that require backup power solutions, it’s important that these are monitored and maintained by professionals.
You don’t realise it, but windows can be a massive source of energy waste. If you live in a colder climate, windows can result in as much as 25% of lost heat which can be mitigated by installing double-panes and other heat retention devices. However, in warmer climates, you will want to minimise the heat coming in through window coatings that reflect light, or by installing window coverings such as shutters or blinds that are designed to keep out the heat. This will drastically reduce your reliance on artificial heating and cooling, thereby saving you on energy costs.
- Install solar panels
One of the most impactful ways to cut down on energy costs is through the installation of a solar array system. The initial investment in the solar panels, inverter, backup batteries (if required) and installation could be quite costly, but the energy savings over time are massive. There are many factors that will need to be considered when you install a solar array, such as the number of panels required, whether it’s a grid-tied system or off the grid, where the panels will be positioned and whether your roof structure can manage the panels required. If you do go for an off-the-grid solar panel system, your electricity use will be 100% renewable, however it is much more likely that you’ll install a grid-tied system that draws on solar energy in the day, still cutting bills by at least half.
If you’re looking to save on energy costs, it’s worth consulting with industry experts, JUP Solutions. They will work with you to assess your energy use and find ways to cut on monthly costs through innovative technology.
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