It’s getting colder in Cape Town, which means more pressure on home heating systems and a huge increase in electricity consumption. Winter can be an expensive time of the year when it comes to using electricity, especially now with electricity tariffs rising.
Days are shorter, which means the lights are on for longer, and clothing is heavier and in the dryer longer. As soon as the temperature drops, we all dive for our heaters, which guzzle electricity and are no substitute for a cozy blanket and a hot cup of soup or hot chocolate.
To cut the cost of electricity this winter, try the following tried and tested tips:
- Lighten up
Open blinds or curtains on north-facing windows during the day to let in the sun. Close them in the evening to add a bit more insulation
- Block drafts
Make sure that your house is sealed and insulated. Check for chinks that let in cold air! Badly fitting windows and spaces under doors need to be attended to. Keeping your curtains closed helps to seal in the heat too
- Bundle up
Be sure to dress for the weather – wear layers of warm clothing (long underwear, sweaters, socks, hats, scarves, gloves) and use a blanket instead of switching on a heater. It’s cozy. And don’t forget: house slippers go a long way to keeping you warm!
- Energy-efficient heating
If you still need more warmth, use an energy-efficient two-kilowatt fan heater or a gas or small-bar heater to heat single rooms. Use heaters that have thermostats. Put the heater close to you – it’s you who needs the warmth, not the entire room. Unplug the heater when not in use. This will help reduce your electricity cost and at the same time ensure the safety of your home. Avoid using under floor heating unless really necessary.
- Insulation saves electricity
The more insulated your home, the easier it is to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. If you want to be warmer in winter (and cooler in summer), make sure your ceiling is insulated, as about 40% of heat loss takes place through the roof. Effective winter insulation also includes covering glass windows (where heat escapes) with heavy curtains and blinds, and closing gaps around doors (to stop cold air drafts). Insulation slows heat transfer and makes your home warmer in winter.
- Heat one room
Only heat the room you are using. If you are going to be working at your laptop while a meal is being cooked, stay somewhere near the stove to feel its heat.
- Use a fireplace
If you have a working fireplace, there’s nothing cosier than a blazing fire while the wind howls and rain pours down outside.
Wooden floors are warmest. If you have tiles on the floor, invest in some cosy rugs.
Winter tends to make us lazy and laziness makes us colder. When we exercise, our body temperatures go up, we drink more water and we feel better. Try to walk or cycle to and back from work. It will take a lot longer for you to feel cold again when you arrive back home and that will translate into savings. An exercised body needs less artificial heating around it and will be more resistant to winter maladies such as colds and flu
- Lastly, going to bed?
Use a hot water bottle to warm your bed and substitute the electric blanket with an extra blanket.