Live greener

Is it possible to live completely off the grid, reliant on no one but yourself and renewable energy sources. While you're considering if you're ready for such a step, here are some less radical tips to save electricity and money.

Oh, and they’ll also cut the amount of carbon you’re pumping into the atmosphere. Yes you. And me, and every last one of us.

 General:

  • The simplest tip of all: turn off the light when you leave a room, and (within reason) other -appliances like TVs. Lights actually add a fair amount of heat to a room. Take advantage of the long summer days and reduce outdoor lighting too.
  • Remember to unplug your cell phone charger: it's the most energy-heavy aspect of cell phone use.
  • There are differences of opinion when it comes to turning off desk-top computers: greenies tend to say turn them off overnight to save electricity, techies tend to say leave them on to prolong their lives. I'd say a reasonable compromise is to go for sleep mode but turn the monitor off overnight.
  • For fresh air, open a window before automatically reaching for the aircon or fan switch. Through-flow of outdoor air is important for reducing indoor pollution. Nonetheless, it’s often helpful to draw blinds and curtains and keep windows closed during the hottest part of the day, then let the cool air in at night.
  • Get the whole household to take more of an interest in the electricity bill... and in reducing it from month to month. Use the money saved to buy everyone who turned off a light a small treat.

 In the kitchen

  • Take a break from toiling over a hot stove in summer: chilled soups and salads are perfect for sweltering days.
  • Use appliances for their right purpose e.g. use an electrical kettle for water heating rather than a pot on the stove.
  • Keep pots covered to shorten cooking time, and use the lid that matches the pot.
  • The pot size should match the stove plate - don't use a big plate when a smaller one will do.
  • Avoid opening the oven door.
  • Use the microwave when possible: it uses less power than a conventional oven, and produces less waste heat.
  • Don’t leave the fridge door standing open, and check that it seals properly.
  • Boil only the water you need instead of a full kettle when you need just a cupful.
  • Only use full loads in the dishwasher.
  • Clean the fridge cooling coils every few months: dust buildup reduces energy efficiency.

In the bathroom

  • Don’t bath! Shower instead: it uses two thirds less energy.
  • Try a sponge bath. Yes, really. Great for mornings when you're in a rush, and saves water too.
  • Reduce the temperature of your geyser (around 55 degrees is recommended) - you shouldn’t need to add loads of cold water when you shower or bath (or do the washing up). 

Laundry

  • Skip the washing machine's pre-wash cycle if your clothes aren't that dirty.
  • Only run full loads.
  • You can still get most laundry quite clean enough by washing it in cold or warm water, rather than hot. Most of the energy cost of running a washing machine is in heating water.
  • If you have a tumble dryer, give it a rest and bring the clothesline out of retirement to take advantage of nature’s summer drying power. Tumble dryers are one of the most energy-greedy of all household appliances.

Will all these little things really save the world?
One person turning off one light? No, probably not. But one person turning off one light multiplied by several million...

  - (Olivia Rose-Innes)


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