The holiday season is a busy time when we expend a lot of our energy decorating, wrapping, cooking, shopping, and visiting with friends and family. At the same time, we’re using a lot of electrical energy too. “Whether you’re at home or away for the holidays, simply switching off what you are not using can save valuable electricity,” says Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager for Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).
According to Bredenkamp, when we switch off, we save money and also help ease the pressure on our national grid, which can then also reduce the possibility of load shedding over the festive season. “The smallest saving counts,” says Bredenkamp. “If every household switched off just one unnecessary light, the saving would be equivalent to about 800MW. That’s more than the amount of electricity produced by a unit of a major power station.”
Here are some tips from SANEDI on how you can play your part over the festive season – and why not right into the new year and beyond?
- Light up your tree with LEDs. Whether you like to deck the halls or put up a simple tree, using LED holiday lights is a smart choice for energy savings. LED Christmas lights use only 10% of the energy that regular bulbs use. They are also much safer than their incandescent or halogen counterparts because they generate only a fraction of the heat. With LEDs, there’s no need to panic if you accidentally leave the lights on overnight.
- Practice green gift giving. If you’re buying electronics or appliances this holiday season, ensure that the device has the best energy-saving technology or better yet, buy non-electronic gifts. Give a present that doesn’t require electricity, like sports equipment, art supplies, or other non-electric toys.
- Switch off your geyser, especially if you’re going away on holiday. It is your biggest single electricity guzzler and consumes as much as 40% of the electricity used in an average size home.
- Take timeout. If you are staying at home and want to avoid the hassle of switching on and off the geyser throughout the day, consider fitting a geyser timer. This will switch off the geyser as specified times during the day and back on again when you need it. You can also consider setting your water heater to “low” or take advantage of holiday mode settings to reduce energy waste from one of the biggest energy guzzlers in the home.
- Unplug as many devices and gadgets as possible. Electronics like TVs, DVDs, gaming consoles and computers actually “steal” energy when they are plugged in, but not in use. Before you head off on your holiday, unplug these devices and save even more on energy costs while away.
- Disconnect. If you have a desk or media console table tangled in power cables and cords, think about getting a power strip or multiplug in which you can connect computers, game consoles and other devices and gadgets. When you leave home, you just need to switch off or unplug the power strip without having to disconnect a number of devices individually. It makes going away just that bit easier.
- Cooking for a crowd? When you’ve got a big holiday meal to make, you can save energy by baking several dishes at the same time. Your oven will use the same amount of electricity to heat up one dish as opposed to a full rack. There’s also no need to preheat the oven for dishes with a long baking time, such as your Christmas gammon. Just pop your dish in at the beginning and add a couple extra minutes to the timer.
- Waste not want not. Use the oven light to check the progress of food instead of opening the door. Each time the oven door opens, there’s a potential loss of up to 25 degrees. That’s not only a waste of energy but also cooking time. When cooking on the stove, be sure to use lids. They keep heat in pots, enable you to cook food faster and conserve energy. Whenever possible, use smaller cooking appliances, especially when it comes to reheating food! Using a microwave instead of the oven can reduce energy usage by 50% or more.
- Go cold turkey. Washing machines and dishwashers all generate a lot of heat. Cut back on this by only using cold water to do your washing. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes to avoid running the appliances too much. The cold-water technique isn’t just for clothes and dishes; you can use it for your body as well. It may take some getting used to, but a cold shower can be brisk and refreshing during our hot, sweaty festive summer.
- Fan the breeze. A fan is without doubt a great way to keep cool during our hot summer holidays but remember, fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect so be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.
For a comprehensive list of energy efficiency tips for your home and office go to www.sanedi.org.za