Monday 21 June marked the exact middle of winter in South Africa, being the longest night and the shortest day of the year. “While this means we are already halfway through winter, there are still many cold, dark nights ahead of us. Considering our country’s constrained energy supply, every individual must play their part in reducing their electricity use and help reduce the pressure on our national electricity grid,” explains Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager, Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).

With ongoing maintenance on many of Eskom’s generating units, load shedding has been a common occurrence this winter. Bredenkamp suggests that modified consumer behaviour and the implementation of energy-efficient solutions can go a long way to reducing electricity demand, while helping South Africans save money on their energy bill.

Heating habits
With many people still working from home, there are now many new ‘individual offices’ to be warmed for individual comfort rather than traditional shared offices which feature optimised central heating systems. “We recommend the use of gas heaters where possible, and that heaters be turned off once the room has warmed. All-day use of electric heaters is discouraged not only because of electricity consumption but because hot, dry air can lead to respiratory issues,” says Bredenkamp.

Another heating concern lies in our geysers. Bredenkamp recommends that using a geyser controller to reduce the heat of your hot water is something people should consider. “Many geysers – especially older ones – get far hotter than is actually required. Reducing the heat will help save energy on water heating.”

Cautious cooking
“Cooking can be a relatively energy-intensive activity, especially when the whole country is making dinner at the same time. It puts strain on our grid and might mean some people are left in the dark. Cooking on gas or over a fire is a great way to change this. If that is not available, consider using a microwave – they are far more energy-efficient than even modern ovens,” Bredenkamp says.

Apt appliances
“Home appliances are incredibly convenient, and newer models are increasingly energy-efficient. However, they should still be used wisely,” says Bredenkamp. “South Africans must be sure to take care when using their kitchen appliances. For example, ensure you have a full load of dishes before turning on the dishwasher. The same goes for washing machines. In addition, people should check that their fridges are properly sealed and are not set to be unnecessarily cold and try avoid using tumble dryers at all cost.”

These simple measures can help save energy through the remaining half of winter and beyond. “Improving your daily habits and thinking carefully about what appliances you use, when, and how, can really make a difference and help with demand-side management in South Africa,” concludes Bredenkamp.

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