Switch off all unused appliances at the wall. Appliances in 'stand-by' mode such as TVs, DVD players, HiFi's and computers consume as much as 50% of the electricity they would normally use. Switching a computer on and off does not reduce its lifespan unless repeated more than 40 000 times, or every 5 minutes. It is not necessary to unplug an appliance if the socket is switched off.
Only use your washing machine once a full load of dirty laundry has accumulated. Automatic washing machines use the same amount of electricity for a full load as they do for a single item.
Use cold-water or lower heat settings as often as possible. Wash bed linen at 60°C (instead of 90°C) to cut back on the amount of electricity you use.
Skip the pre-wash cycle for clothes that aren’t particularly dirty. This can cut down hot water usage by up to 20%.
Never overload your automatic washing machine. Overloading will reduce the cleaning action. Varying the sizes of garments in a full load improves the cleaning action by allowing free circulation.
Take advantage of special features on your washer that can save money. For example, soak cycles remove stubborn stains in one wash cycle.
Hang your clothes outside to dry. If possible, avoid using a tumble dryer altogether. Do your laundry on a sunny day, or use an indoor drying rack to dry your clothes.
Remove excess water before putting clothes in the dryer. This minimises the drying time required.
Dry multiple loads of clothes consecutively. Your dryer will be warm already so you’ll save energy.
Make sure the lint filter in your tumble dryer is cleaned.
Only iron what really needs to be ironed. Certain clothing will appear ironed with careful folding.
Iron large batches of clothes at a time. This saves the iron from needing to be reheated.
Complete the last of your ironing with the iron switched off. An iron consumes as much energy as ten 100 W light bulbs so let some of that stored energy work for you.
Only use distilled or boiled water in a steam iron. This will keep it clean and energy efficient.
Use specialised appliances for the appropriate tasks, this is the easiest way to save electricity in the kitchen. For example, always make toast in a toaster instead of using the oven.
Ensure the oven door is kept closed until the food is done. Constantly opening and closing the oven door dissipates heat, and electricity is wasted in reheating the oven.
Only use pots and pans that completely cover stove plates. Also keep stove plates and reflectors clean to ensure all the energy is being used to cook the food.
Use a pressure cooker or insulation cooker when preparing foods that take a long time to cook. It will speed up the cooking process and save electricity.
Turn off the stove before you’ve finished cooking. Hot plates retain heat and will continue to cook your food while saving electricity. Alternatively, bring food to the boil on the ‘high’ setting and then turn down the plate to simmer until cooked. Keep the lid on the pot to retain heat.
Use the microwave for small to medium amounts of food. Leave the conventional oven for large meals.
When using a kettle, boil only as much water as you need.
Don’t open the fridge door unnecessarily or leave it open for too long. Cold air sinks so it literally falls out of the fridge, and so your fridge has to start again. An empty fridge has to work hard to keep things cold so put bottles of water in the fridge as these ‘hold onto the cold’ – equally, an overfull fridge also has to work too hard.
Let hot food cool down before putting it in the fridge. It will require less electricity for further cooling.
Empty your fridge and switch it off when you go on holiday.
Defrost your freezer regularly. This will ensure it runs more efficiently.
Minimise hand-washing dishes, which can use twice as much electricity and nine times more water than a dishwasher.
Run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
Link the dishwasher to the cold water supply. The dishwasher heats the water itself and only requires hot water for one wash and one rinse cycle. If the dishwasher is linked to a hot water tap, it will draw power for the full duration.
Turn the dishwasher off before the drying cycle. Use a cloth to dry the dishes or let them drip-dry.
Invest in a front-loading washing machine instead of a top loader. It uses less water and costs less to operate. Also ensure the new machine offers a variety of water temperature settings.
If you’re buying a new tumble dryer, choose one with Electronic Humidity Control (EHC). It shuts the machine off automatically when clothes are dry instead of relying on a timer.
Invest in a thermostatically controlled iron to prevent it from becoming hotter than you need.
Invest in a Hot Box or Wonderbag insulation cooker for R200 – R400 and save up to 60% on cooking costs. These boxes and bags insulate your cooking pot so that it retains the initial heat. Foods such as rice, porridge, soups or stews can be brought to the boil on the stove and then placed inside to continue the cooking process. Alternatively, you can also simply wrap the pot in a blanket. The blanket will keep the heat in and the food will continue to cook.
Have the seals in your fridge replaced to keep the cold air in.
When buying a dishwasher, choose a model that uses less water. A water efficient dishwasher uses up to 50% less water than a conventional one, which means 50% less water to heat up.
Choose a dishwasher model with a no-heat air-drying feature to save even more electricity, if you can’t use a cloth to dry the dishes or let them drip-dry instead.
Invest in new energy efficient appliances. As electricity tariffs rise, buying an energy-efficient appliance will pay back in cost savings quicker than before. Look for labelling such as the Energy Star rating and always buy an ‘energy smart’ model. It's important to note that newer plasma screen TVs tend to use more electricity than older models and LED TVs.
Choose induction cookers for stove-top cooking with electricity, which heat quickly, but also save electricity and the risk of burns. For high-temperature cooking an induction stove uses about 30% less energy than an ordinary hob. Since magnetic fields heat the pots, the stove plate stays cool, but you’ll need iron or steel cookware. Take a magnet along when pan shopping. You can buy a single-plate induction cooker for just over R1 000.
Stove-top cooking with gas has many advantages over electricity. Gas supplies instant heat. And gas stoves are load-shedding-proof. Their green advantage is that switching from electricity to gas cuts the carbon footprint for those appliances by about half.