Saving electricity will not only save you money, but will also help with the rising power cuts, as the country needs to cut energy use by 10% for the current system to cope. Saving electricity will also give you a warm fuzzy feeling, as you will be doing your bit to conserve natural resources, i.e. coal, and reducing the impact energy consumption has on the environment, slowing down global warming.

What’s Watt?

  • Electricity is measured in units of power called watts (W)
  • 1 000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW)
  • 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) = 1000W or 1kW working for one hour
  • Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours, and on your electricity bill each kilowatt hour is shown as one unit.

All household appliances are rated in watts or kilowatts. This will indicate how much electricity the appliance uses in a certain amount of time. For example, a 1kW kitchen appliance uses one unit of electricity an hour. A 100 watt light bulb uses one unit of electricity every 10 hours. Usually the rating is shown on the appliance, the higher the rating, the more electricity it will use.

Hungry Appliances

The first step in saving electricity is to understand how electricity is used in your home.  South African households, on average, use electricity in the following ways:

  • Space heating and cooling: 18%
  • Lighting: 17%
  • Fridges and freezers: 8%
  • Cooking: 11%
  • Consumer electronics: 5%
  • Consumer electronics on standby mode: 15%
  • Geysers: 24%
  • Miscellaneous: 2%

Standby for more Savings

These days our homes are full of appliances that use electricity all the time, even when we aren’t there. We leave them on standby mode, waiting to be used again. You would think that an appliance on standby would only use a little electricity, but sadly we are mistaken.

In some households appliances of standby mode use the equivalent of leaving a 100W light bulb on all year

Some examples of appliances that use power, but can be switched off are; battery and phone charges, microwaves (do you really need that digital clock?), computers, TVs, DVD players, decoders, Hi-Fis, game consoles, rechargeable toothbrushes, the list can go on and on. There are some appliances that do however, need to be powered all the time such as; home security systems, remote controlled gates and garage doors, to name but a few. Make sure you select low consumption models to reduce your electricity usage.

Check the Label

Before you buy a new appliance, check the energy efficiency rating, which is rated on a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). A-rated appliances are better for the environment and cost much less to run. For example, if you replace the fridge-freezer you bought in 1995 with an A-rated energy efficient one, you would save about R 680.00 a year on electricity. Some brands are A+ or A++ rated – the pinnacle of appliance energy efficiency.

Next week we will look at different areas in  your home to save power.