Set energy-saving targets with your family

A great way to change energy intensive habits in your family is to create an ‘energy board’ in a central area in your home, like the kitchen. Write up this month’s electricity bill, and get the family together to set next month’s target. Explain why this is not just about saving money, but about saving the planet.

Then all together, write down ways in which everyone can cut down on their electricity use. For example:

  • Dad – ditch the electrical shaver and go for cold steel!
  • Everyone – as you leave a room, turn off the light behind you
  • John – if you are cold, put on a jersey rather than immediately turning on the heater
  • Mom – boil just enough water for your cup of tea, not the whole kettle
  • Sarah – turn off the TV and your computer equipment when you are not using them
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Use the power of the wind

If you live in an area where there are strong winds, and if you can encourage your neighbours to support your ‘green commitments’in raising a tall wind turbine on your property, then a small domestic wind turbine can meet part of your energy needs. If the wind on your site is not consistent then you could create a hybrid system combining PV panels and wind turbines.

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Switch to an energy-saving heater

To keep your home and offce warm in winter, use an energy- saving heat source, rather than an electricity-munching fan or electric bar heater. This could take the form of an ethanol- burning table top fre, or a wall heater that stays at one temperature and heats the room slowly and steadily. When using a heater, keep doors and windows closed to retain the heat.

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Reward your family for saving energy

Make it relevant by linking your family’s energy-saving goal to a great incentive – a day trip that you would like to take together, or a family meal of everyone’s favourite dishes. If you miss your target, get everyone together to see where you can make adjustments, or to see where people are slipping up. Get motivated, and re-commit!

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Spend more time with your family

A great way to cut down energy as a family is to spend more time together in the evenings. Rather than being spread across the house, lights burning in all rooms, get the family together in the lounge and play a board game, read your book, watch a movie. In winter this will also save on heating, as you can heat just one room in the house. The added beneft is quality time together as a family.

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Invest in Energy Saving Multiplugs

Standby power/Phantom load /Leaking Electricity or vampire power refers to the electricity power consumed by electronic appliances while they are switched off or in standby mode. A Multiplug will automatically switch off power to all other devices plugged into them, when the master socket has been switched off or put on standby.

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Install a geyser blanket

Each time your geyser cools below a certain temperature it automatically heats up all over again. So keep it cosy by installing a geyser blanket, which will keep the water hot for longer. Geyser blankets are inexpensive and relatively easy to install. Hot water pipes can also be wrapped in insulation material to prevent heat loss.

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Switch off your geyser

Find the geyser switch, and get into the habit of turning  it off each morning or evening, just before your bath or shower. This will stop cold water fowing into the geyser when you turn on the hot tap. Turn it on again an hour or so before you need hot water again. There are some great geyser timers available, which automatically turn your geyser on and off, in accordance with bath and showering times in your household.

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Install a solar geyser

To save on energy, install a solar geyser on your roof, which will use the energy of the sun to heat your household water. With the electricity that you will save by installing a solar geyser, you can pay off your initial investment in as little as three years. After that you will be saving money.

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Change your light bulbs to energy-savers

When you are at the hardware store, shopping for replacement bulbs, don’t reach for the cheapest option. Old fashioned incandescent bulbs are generally cheaper off the shelf than compact forescent (CFLs), but will cost you and the planet far more in the long run. CFL’s last six to ffteen times longer than incandescent bulbs, use less energy, and give off less heat. They do need to be recycled properly, as they contain small amounts of mercury. The City of Cape Town ‘Smart Living Handbook’ recommends that you wrap a CFL bulb in a plastic bag before throwing it away and most shopping centres provide customers with a CFL recycling box, in which they can dispose of their bulbs.

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