It’s the word that must not be named. The word that sends more shivers down your spine than whispering “Mustafa” in a gloomy cave.
Gripped by ever rising costs, with more steep increases promised, the future is dark and daunting. It all feels so out of control, right? Stop and breathe. You have a lot more control over your costs than you might think. And no, you don’t have to live by candlelight and eat only fruit and raw vegetables. There is a myriad of ways to reduce your energy consumption, thereby keeping your electricity costs low.
Let’s take a look at some easy ways to start your journey of not only getting environmental gold stars but keeping your energy bills low.
#1 Ice cold baby
Did you know that washing your clothes in cold water as a default (if they're not filthy) has a big effect on your energy consumption? Heating water takes a lot of energy, accounting for about 14% of the average home electric bill. Hectic!
#2 Let it dry, let it dry
The switch to working from home has another benefit: less laundry. You’re no longer churning through new outfits daily for school or work, as you’re probably living in those Levis a little longer. You could have cut down by a load or two per week.
Either way, electric dryers comprise 5% of our electricity usage. Rather hang dry your laundry on an outdoor clothesline (just check your Body Corporate rules first!) or indoor drying rack and you'll save energy, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint.
And if you really need to use your electric dryer, be selective and make sure that you set the timer for as short as possible to only allow for “just dry”, so that your machine does not overheat and “burn” the clothes dry.
#3 Same output, less energy
Gradually switch to LED light bulbs. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut down on costs. Start by replacing the five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with LEDs.
Purchase a pack of LED light bulbs, so you can gradually replace any old incandescent bulbs as they burn out. LED bulbs are about six times more efficient and generally last much longer too.
#4 Be smart with your lights
While using the most energy-efficient bulbs is great, lights in the correct locations can provide even more savings. Make sure that you have lights situated in the most advantageous areas. Rather use floor lamps for reading areas, instead of a light fixture in the middle of the room that gives less than desirable illumination.
Kitchens can benefit from track lighting that directs the light to exactly where you need it. Under cabinet lighting can provide direct light for your workspace, and these fixtures often use LED bulbs for even more electrical savings. Remember to check first with your agent before making any permanent changes to your rental home.
#5 Stop vampire power
Did you know that many devices use power even when they're not turned on or in use? Vampire power or standby power can account for 5 to 10 percent of your electrical use.
If you have a cluster of devices near each other, plug them into a power strip that enables you to turn off the power of the individual appliances when you are not using the item. This is a great choice for cell phone chargers and similar devices that you often leave plugged in. You can also use a power strip for your monitor, printer and other computer accessories. You may not want to shut down your computer completely, so make sure that it goes into an efficient sleep mode when not in use.
For many more tips on reducing your energy use in creative ways, have a look at this interesting list by Eskom: