Cut win­ter power costs for good

George Herald - Private Property - - Property News -

Re­cent events have demon­strated once again that Eskom and city power sup­plies are un­cer­tain and un­re­li­able - and shown why SA home own­ers need to start mak­ing even more use of al­ter­na­tive tech­nolo­gies to keep their lights turned on and their homes warm in win­ter.

So says Ger­hard Kotzé, MD of the Real­net es­tate agency group, not­ing that the ris­ing cost of elec­tric­ity is a fur­ther in­cen­tive, with tar­iff in­creases of up to 8% com­ing into ef­fect in most mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties this month.


Un­for­tu­nately, he says, it is still too ex­pen­sive for most own­ers to im­me­di­ately con­vert their whole home to a photo-voltaic (so­lar) power sys­tem, but there are many so­lar-kit op­tions avail­able at a lower cost that will au­to­mat­i­cally come on and power es­sen­tials like fridges, freez­ers and bur­glar alarms dur­ing load shed­ding, and that's a good place to start.

"A gen­er­a­tor is an al­ter­na­tive, but these can be problematic in terms of noise, pol­lu­tion and petrol or diesel con­sump­tion, es­pe­cially as fuel prices in SA con­tinue to rise."

It is also worth pur­chas­ing a few recharge­able lanterns, he says, to pro­vide light when the power goes off, as well as to power banks for your phones and com­put­ers. If your garage doors and se­cu­rity gates open with re­mote con­trols, you should also check that these have bat­tery back-ups.

"In ad­di­tion, home own­ers should now se­ri­ously con­sider in­stalling a so­lar geyser if they don't al­ready have one, not only so they can have a hot shower dur­ing power cuts but be­cause it will sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce their elec­tric­ity bills. Es­ti­mates are that a 2m² so­lar geyser cuts house­hold elec­tric­ity us­age by 2 000KWH a year - and saves 1 000kg of coal and 2 600 litres of wa­ter used to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity."

The next item to change, Kotzé says, is the elec­tric stove, which is also a ma­jor consumer of power in most homes. "A gas stove will heat up in­stan­ta­neously and will also make you in­de­pen­dent of mains elec­tric­ity for cook­ing - and boil­ing the ket­tle when the power goes off. Then, rather than re­ly­ing on elec­tric heaters for warmth, you might also con­sider gas heaters, or bet­ter still, a gas fire­place in the room where your fam­ily spends most of their leisure time."

FIRE PLACE The most en­ergy-ef­fi­cient fire­places (and thus the least costly to run) are of course those that burn pel­lets or "bricks" made from saw­dust, wood waste, the husks of rice or other ce­re­als, or re­cy­cled waste pa­per. These burn very cleanly and pow­er­fully and pro­vide a lot of heat for a rel­a­tively small amount of fuel, but they do re­quire elec­tric­ity to run, so un­for­tu­nately won't work dur­ing load-shed­ding, he says.

"When it comes to warmth, it is also very im­por­tant for homes to have proper ceil­ing in­su­la­tion. This comes in the form of ther­mal batts or blan­kets made from fi­bre­glass, rock­wool or pa­per that prevent heat loss, and is rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive and easy to in­stall."


And fi­nally, if you are try­ing to lower your elec­tric­ity bill, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that many lit­tle sav­ings can add up to quite a big to­tal. "These in­clude not leav­ing your elec­tronic de­vices on standby, not let­ting your pool pump run for too long, turn­ing an elec­tric geyser off dur­ing the day and putting an ex­tra blan­ket or du­vet on your bed in­stead of leav­ing an elec­tric blan­ket on all night."

Is­sued by Real­net

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