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Shave off 50% of your electricity bill easy peasy

Homes consume 17% of South Africa’s electricity. However, this figure nearly doubles to 27% between 5pm and 9pm on weekdays. This explains why Eskom typically schedules load shedding for this time and why the utility has launched a consumer campaign to switch off geysers and all non-essential appliances, pool pumps.

With 5,4 million electric element geysers consuming electricity  in South Africa, if all are switched off  simultaneously, the energy saved could power the cities of Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein combined, according to Eskom.

Geysers guzzle 39% of your energy usage, so switching them off when they are not needed not only reduces one’s energy demands but reduces the monthly electricity bill. One consumer confided to HomeTimes that he switched off his pool pump to run only once a week for three hours and installed a time switch on his geyser, which only runs between 6am and 9am and between 6pm and 8pm. His electricity bill halved from between R6,000 and R8,000 a month to between R3,000 and R4,000 per month. It cost R1,200 for an electrician to supply and install the time switch and it paid for itself in the first two weeks!

In Eskom’s example it compares a 200 watt television, switched on for 60 hours a month, to an electric element geyser. The television accounts for 12,000 watt-hours (12kWh) of the total kWh one uses per month. This would cost approximately R14,64 a month (at a tariff of R1,22/kWh). On the other hand, an electric element geyser, providing hot water for a family of four, uses a hefty 410kWh to 450kWh per month. This would cost approximately R509,96 to R540 a month at the same tariff.

Included in Eskom’s advice to consumers to save up to 50% of their electricity bills by switch to solar water heating systems or a heat pump.

Installing ceiling insulation is the most important step for improving the energy efficiency of your home. During winter, approximately 40% of heat is lost through the roof if the home is not insulated. Insulation makes a home up to 5% warmer in winter and 10% cooler in summer. Insulation also reduces and postpones the need to switch on space heaters and climate control systems. It contributes to lowering electricity bills as an insulated and draught-free room requires 51% less energy to heat up.


Washing and cooking

You can reduce your electricity consumption by up to 50% by replacing fridges, washing machines or dishwashers of more than 10 years old. Newer appliances are designed to be energy efficient – look for the “international efficiency label” on products to ensure optimal energy usage.

Replace your conventional oven with an energy efficient one or install an induction stove which is compatible with Stainless Steel, cast iron and enamel cookware. Approximately 90% of energy generated is used for cooking, making an induction stove 25% more energy efficient than conventional stovetops.

In its checklist of tips to save 30% off your electricity bill, Eskom advises:

  • Installing a geyser blanket and pipe insulation on the first 1.5m of pipes to reduce heat loss
  • Fitting the geyser as close as possible to the points where you use hot water
  • Installing shade awnings on the outside of windows facing the sun – it reduces radiant heat from entering your home
  • Install window blinds or hang curtains – it improves thermal insulation by preventing heat from escaping your home

 * In our next installment we will look at how to shave off 10% of your electricity bill without spending a cent.



Alison Goldberg is the former property editor of Business Day (1985) and the Financial Mail (1991-99). In 1995 she won the Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year Award. She has edited such titles as National Constructor and The Miner in Australia and has freelanced for The Star, The South African Jewish Report and The Jerusalem Post.

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