Insulate the geyser
A geyser ‘blanket’ maximises heat retention. Check heat loss first using a basic ‘hand test’. If the geyser is warm then it’s losing heat and needs better insulation. Particularly necessary for older geysers. Appoint a good installer or do a thorough job yourself, and check the insulation is still in place after a few days/ weeks because installation isn’t always straightforward and can come undone. Also insulate the water pipes leading from the geyser for the first 3 metres. See www.eskomidm.co.za
for approved suppliers.
Install efficient lighting
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) use 75% less power than old incandescent bulbs, and last much longer. Note that CFLs contain small amounts of harmful chemicals, so please dispose of them safely. Best is to take them to safe ‘drop off’ points e.g. at retailers like Woolworths or Pick n Pay. New ‘light-emitting diodes’, or LEDs, are even more efficient than CFLs, and last 130 times longer than CFL bulbs. They have limited applications in homes at this stage, but are ideal replacements for halogen down-lighting. They save the most, and although they may be currently expensive the cost is coming down as the technology develops. Of course, switching off lights in unoccupied rooms is also an obvious way to save.
Install a solar water heater
This can save the most electricity of all. It typically saves about two thirds of water heating cost, but this varies and it should be installed with a timer for the best possible saving. With rising electricity tariffs, and the new subsidies from Eskom (see www.eskomidm.co.za
), the payback period is now no more than 5 years. Install a heat pump as an alternative, if a solar water heater is not possible. Heat pumps can achieve similar savings but they are a new technology for homes, so they are not well tested yet and may require more maintenance than a solar water heater.
Insulate the ceiling/ roof
A ceiling and good roof insulation can keep the home 5 degrees (Celsius) warmer in winter, and 10 degrees cooler in summer. More comfortable indoor temperatures mean less need for electrical heating and cooling, with savings of about 75% for adding both a ceiling and insulation, or 25% for just adding insulation (if there is already a ceiling). Insulating other parts of the house also helps (e.g. stopping heat loss through windows or under doors), but the highest savings are from roof insulation.