Small, inexpensive changes can save costs in the home
MANY homeowners are apprehensive about “going green”, not because they don’t want to reduce their impact on the environment but because they assume this move is difficult and expensive, says Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group.
“That may be true if you want to go completely offgrid, or retrofit sophisticated energy and water-saving infrastructure, but you can also make a surprisingly big difference by introducing a few simple, energy-efficient features and habits in your home.”
Low- energy lighting: Lighting, particularly in winter, can make up a significant proportion of home energy costs but modern technology gives homeowners plenty of options to cut back on this power consumption.
“LED and compact fluorescent light bulbs use dramatically less power than other lamp types,” says Clarke. “They are still a bit more expensive than incandescent and halogen bulbs – although prices are slowly dropping – but they also last much longer and cost less to use, so they’re good value.”
Curtain control: You might not think of your curtains and blinds as energy-saving features but when it comes to keeping a home warm or cool, they are one of the most effective assets, Clarke says.
“Curtains aren’t just there to stop nosy neighbours or block the moonlight so you can sleep. They also give you control over the amount of sunlight entering your home and the amount of heat you lose through the glass at night.”
In summer, Clarke says, it is a good idea to draw the curtains on the sunniest sides of your home to prevent the build-up of heat indoors.
“In winter, leave those shades wide open to make the most of the warmth on sunny days and close them again as soon as the sun goes down to trap that heat inside.”
However, if you do not want to block views during daylight, Clarke says you can apply sun-reducing film to the glass itself or even invest in double-glazing for the “ultimate in temperature control”.
Ceiling insulation: Good insulation will help maintain indoor temperatures and reduce the effects of hot and cold weather.
“The most common types of ceiling insulation are mineral- or polyester-fibre sheets, like Aerolite and Isotherm, and blown cellulose fibre like Eco-Insulation,” says Clarke.
“There are also innovative alternatives that go directly on to roof sheets and inside wall cavities and even DIY strips that help insulate windows and doors by sealing gaps in and around frames.”
Solar water heating: South Africans are fortunate the country has an average of more than 2 500 hours of sunshine a year, which is ideal for solar energy production.
While solar photovoltaic (PV) systems tend to be expensive, Clarke says solar water heaters are “very accessible” to the general public and offer easy ways to dramatically reduce energy consumption with minimal impact on dayto-day life.
“Solar water heaters are not only excellent energy savers, they also add value to your property, so if your geyser needs replacing, it’s worthwhile paying a little more for a solar option.”
Gas cooking: Electric ovens and hobs are the third-highest energy consumers in most houses, exceeded only by air conditioners and geysers.
Clarke says installing a gas hob, or even a full gas stove, can make a “huge difference” to energy use.
“And you will also add value to your home as many people prefer to cook on gas.”
Solar panels will reduce power costs.