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With everyone at home for lockdown, it may be time to review how you and your family use water and electricity.

While lockdown is curbing our entertainment expenses, a full family at home 24/7 is increasing electricity and water usage. With the future – and in many cases, full incomes – under pressure, saving on costs is important.


Here are 30 ways to reduce your electricity and water usage, without making everyone feel uncomfortable at home.


Tips for using less electricity at home


Geysers, dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers use a lot of electricity. We’re not suggesting that you go back to basics and start handwashing everything, but there are smart ways to reduce your electricity and water usage. While none of these tips will make a huge difference on their own, added together they can really make a positive impact on your utility bills.

  1. Set your electrical geyser’s thermostat at 55 ° C to 60 ° C.  
  2. Insulate your geyser and hot water pipes with fibreglass or newspaper.
  3. Switch off lights when they aren’t needed.
  4. Choose higher wattage light bulbs and reduce how many lights you need on. For example, two 60-watt light bulbs produce the same light as a 100-watt bulb – but use a lot more electricity.
  5. Switch to LED lights where possible and use low-energy lights outside.
  6. Turn your dishwasher off before its drying cycle and dry your dishes by hand.
  7. Don’t connect your dishwasher to the geyser – use a cold-water supply instead.
  8. Heat and moisture make your fridge work harder, so install your dishwasher away from your fridge.
  9. If you’re replacing your dishwasher or washing machine, look for energy-saving features like short cycles.
  10. Tumble dry your clothes until they are dry and no longer.
  11. Hang clothes outside on sunny days.
  12. Wait until you have a full load before filling the washing machine.
  13. Use the shortest washing programme that still cleans your clothes. You might need to experiment with this.
  14. Switch off your stove or oven before your food is cooked and finish cooking without using additional energy.
  15. Only foods that require high temperatures or slow cooking times need a preheated oven.  
  16. Plan your meals. Defrosting food overnight in your fridge uses far less energy than defrosting food in a microwave.
  17. Defrost your freezer regularly. A build-up of ice increases running costs because your entire fridge needs to work harder to maintain temperatures.
  18. Turn your appliances off at the wall when you aren’t using them.
  19. As winter approaches, insulate your ceiling and close any gaps that allow drafts into your home so that you require less heat to keep your house warm.
  20. Limit your pool pump to only running a few short hours per day.

City Power has an online calculator that tracks how much power you’re using based on your appliances and how often they’re used. This is a useful way to track how your different strategies are impacting your power usage.


Tips for using less water at home


It wasn’t that long ago that South Africa was gripped by major water restrictions. Hopefully some of those good habits have stuck, but let’s revisit the top advice we received in limiting water usage. If you have children in the house, some of these tips will be particularly useful.


  1. Choose showering over baths. A bath can use anywhere from three to five times more water than a shower.
  2. Limit your showers to five minutes or less.
  3. If you shower in a bath tub, keep the plug in or stand in a shallow bucket. You can then use this water elsewhere in your home ‘(such as for flushing toilets) or to water your garden.
  4. Connect your washing machine’s outlet pipe to a large bucket. Instead of this water going down the drain, you can use it to water your garden (provided you use biodegradable washing powders).
  5. Don’t let the tap run while you brush your teeth or wash your hands for a full 20 seconds.
  6. Choose the shortest cycles available on your washing machine and dishwasher – as we’ve highlighted, this saves electricity as well.
  7. Install a cover over your swimming pool to limit evaporation. A cover will also keep dirt out of the pool, which reduces how often you need to backwash it.
  8. Water your garden in the early evening to avoid evaporation.
  9. Put a brick (or something like it) in your toilet cistern. If you displace water, you’ll use less water each time you flush.
  10. Capture your rain water. You can then water your garden without turning on a hose.


Getting started

As South Africans, we’ve had our fair share of power and water restrictions. The changes you make in your home today won’t only help during lockdown, but are excellent practices to follow as we all try to become more cognisant of our impact on the environment.

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