Energy-saving tips around the house


South Africa's energy is still among the cheapest in the world. But electricity is, or should be, expensive, because it's a resource that could run out if we don't realise its value and start saving. There is currently a shortage of generating capacity in the country.

To minimise the load on the electrical network in the country, try to avoid the use of high-consuming appliances during the evening peak hours of 18:00 to 21:00. These appliances include heaters, air conditioners, stoves, hot water geysers, tumble dryers, washing machines, dishwashers and swimming pool pumps.

Here are some easy tips to save electricity, and save money.

Lights & appliances

  1. Do not leave lights burning unnecessarily. When you leave a room, switch off.
  2. Turn off everything else not in use for longer periods: TVs, computers, etc. Physically turn off appliance switches or at the wall, instead of leaving them on standby.
  3. Survey your incandescent lights for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescent lights (CFL). These bulbs use 80% less electricity than ordinary light bulbs and last up to 8 times longer. First replace all 60-100W bulbs used several hours a day.
  4. Use energy-efficient spotlights for exterior lighting.
  5. Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while.
  6. Buy energy-efficient appliances or gas appliances.

Heaters & aircon

  1. Dress appropriately for the weather: if you can, rather dress cooler than turn on the aircon, or put on a jersey before turning up the heater.
  2. Sit as close as practically possible to a heater to avoid as far as possible the need to have both elements switched on together.
  3. Switch off the heater when leaving the room for any length of time.
  4. When using heaters or air conditioners, limit or restrict as far as possible the opening of windows.
  5. Curtains help to retain the heat in a room. During hot months, keep curtains closed on the north, east, and west windows. In winter, let the sun in and at sunset you can close the curtains to keep that nice warmth in your house.
  6. It is cheaper to use an electric blanket than a heater in the bedroom.
  7. Use an extra blanket on the bed during winter time.
  8. Only heat or cool the rooms you need – close vents and doors of unused rooms.
  9. In summer, use fans whenever possible instead of air conditioners, and ventilate at night this way when practical. Fans cost less to operate than air conditioners.
  10. Check the furnace or air conditioner filter each month, and clean or replace it as needed. Dirty filters block air flow through your heating and cooling systems, increasing your energy bill and shortening the equipment’s life.
  11. Stop draughts, use thermostats, insulate your home, and install a ceiling.
  12. Support ‘green energy’. Install a solar water heater or photovoltaic panels.
For tips about saving electricity in the kitchen, click here.


  1. Instruct all household members, including husbands, helpers and children, in the economical use of hot water.
  2. When bathing, use as little water as possible, or better still have a shower.
  3. Do not allow hot water taps to drip.
  4. Have the hot water cylinder thermostat set as low as the household's hot water demand will permit. Recommended temperature setting is 60°C.
  5. Avoid using the hot water cylinder during morning and evening peak electricity usage times.
  6. Do not switch off the cylinder for short periods of time as more electricity is needed to heat the water back up to the set temperature when it is switched on again.
  7. Switch off the cylinder when away for relatively long periods eg when on holiday.
  8. Insulate the hot water cylinder and pipes.
  9. If possible, invest in a solar water heater or heat pump.


  1. Do only full loads when using the washing machine.
  2. Use cold water for laundry and save costs.
  3. Hang out washing instead of using the tumble drier. If you have to use a drier, use one like the Spindle that you turn by hand, or hang out the clothing until they're just clammy, then do the last stretch in the drier on the cool setting.

Swimming pools

  1. Operate the filter pump for minimum periods.
  2. During winter algae growth is restricted and the use of the filter cleaning system can be limited to once every few days.
  3. Installing a swimming pool net, especially during winter, minimises dirt from blowing in and algae growth, thereby reducing the need for the filter pump.

The office

  1. Turn off the photocopier when you leave: a photocopier left on overnight wastes enough energy to make about 1,600 copies!
  2. Turn off your computer monitor: a monitor left on overnight wastes enough energy to laser-print about 800 A4 pages! By turning off your monitor energy consumption can be reduced by 50%.
  3. Switch off the lights at night. Leaving the lights on in an empty office overnight wastes enough energy to make about 1000 cups of coffee!
  4. Save 10% of an air-conditioner electricity bill by turning the thermostat down 1 degree in winter and up 1 degree in summer.     

How much do different appliances cost to operate?

To see the electricity cost of different electrical appliances, click here.


  • Leaving a computer monitor on overnight wastes as much energy as making 800 A4 photocopies.
  • Lighting an empty meeting room overnight can waste enough energy to make 1000 cups of tea.
  • TVs, DVDs and video machines left on ‘Stand-By’ continue to use at least half the amount of electricity they use when they are turned on.
  • Overfilling an electric kettle can waste enough energy to run a TV set for 26 hours.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper (400 reams) saves 15 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4132kWh of electricity, 2.26m3 of landfill space, 31319 gallons of water and prevents 26.8kg of air pollutants from reaching the atmosphere.
  • Making paper from recycled fibres uses 70% less energy than from virgin fibres.

Download the FREE Smart Living Handbook here: smart_living_handbook_eng_full_version.pdf (8MB)

Or here:

Sources:, PowerAlert

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