As you may or may not know, I’ve made it my mission this year to cut my costs of living in half in whatever way, shape and form possible. So a couple of weeks I decided to kickstart this whole process by getting an ECO AUDIT done at my house. It’s an assessment to determine your electricity consumption, what resources are being used and how you can make your household more efficient and, more importantly, save money!
Like a school kid waiting for his exam results, I’ve been anticipating the feedback, but the wait is over and the results are in…There are some great tips here that we can all implement in our homes – brace yourself, it’s long…here we go!
At present you are using approx 693.99kWh / month of electricity, and your daily consumption is approximately 25.646 kWh. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) measures a unit of energy, equal to 3,600,000 joules (3.6 MJ). It can also be described as the amount of energy that would be transferred at a constant rate of one kilowatt for one hour. This is the unit that is used by power companies to determine the amount of energy used by a home or business for billing purposes. As all domestic electricity usage over 600 kWh per month falls into current Domestic High rate of R1.86 (including VAT) per kWh.
Therefore your basic usage is costing you approximately R1370.70 per month and R47.70 daily. Please note we used an average regarding Summer and Winter usage. This amount is only your consumption, not other electricity charges. Please note, that for a family of 4, your consumption is quite low! This is due to the fact that you have a Solar geyser, as an electrical geyser uses up to 40% of your electricity consumption. The highest consumers are the wall panels (13%) again an average was used due to seasons, your fridge (12%) and chest freezer (10%), your oven (11%) and your TV (11%) – see Electricity Consumption pie chart above.
Your current usage of lighting is 6%, (43kW/month and 1.433 kWh/day) of your total daily electricity consumption. This is low and due to your gradual replacement of Halogen down lighters which use 50W each. Please continue to replace your last Halogen down lighters with LED’s (which are approx 5W each). Your lighting is costing approx R80 per month and R2.6 daily.
Low Cost Solutions:
Medium Cost Solutions:
High Cost Solutions:
At present you are using 94% electricity (651kW/month and 24kWh/day) of your energy consumption for appliances. The increasing number of household gadgets have led to an enormous rise in electricity consumption in the past 20 years.
Refrigerator / Freezer
Your fridge and chest freezer are using 23% of your household energy usage, your fridge is using 2.97 kWh daily and 89.1 kWh monthly, costing you R5.52 daily & R165.72 monthly. Your chest freezer is using 2.4 kWh daily and 72 kWh monthly & costing you R4.46 daily & R133.92 monthly.
Cooking – Oven and Stove
Using a gas stove keeps the electricity usage down. Your oven uses 11% of electricity which amounts 81kWh per month, 2.7kWh per day and costing you R150.66 per month and approx R5 per day of your total energy consumption.
*We know the ‘hot box’ better as the Wonderbag!
As I said before – I have excluded some appliances as their consumption is minimal, these are– tumble dryer, sound system, oil heater, sewing machine, phone chargers, cordless drill, garage door motor and your hair dryer, as these appliances came out to use less than 1% of your total consumption.
Dishwasher & Washing Machine
Your dishwasher uses 5% of your total electricity consumption as it uses 1.1 kWh daily & 33 kWh per month. This is costing you R2 per day & R68.38 per month.Your washing machine currently uses 4% of your energy consumption at 27kWh per month and 0.9 kW per day costing you R50.22 per month and R1.67 per day.
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Medium Cost Solutions:
High Cost Solutions:
Hot Water / Geyser
As you already have a Solar geyser, your electrical consumption for heating hot water is zero! Well done! However here are some tips to reduce your water consumption….
How Low Flow or Aerated showerheads work
Low-flow shower heads manage to use less water than older shower heads by restricting the flow of the water while maintaining the water pressure at approximately 80 psi. Most low-flow shower heads on the market today deliver below 9.5 Litres per minute at the same pressure as older shower heads. Therefore, consumers are able to enjoy the same water pressure as in older models while conserving water.
Many low-flow shower heads also come with a shut-off valve (pushing a button activates the valve) to enable the consumer to save even more water by stopping the flow while soaping or shaving.Consumers favor the aerating, low-flow shower heads, mainly because these shower heads provide a full, even spray when turned on. They are called “aerating” because they work by mixing air into the stream of water, which helps the stream maintain a constant pressure.
Low-flow shower heads are important to consumers in two respects: first, replacing older shower heads with low-flow ones can reduce water and energy bills dramatically; second, the reduction of water consumption is an important step in water conservation and environmental awareness. A family’s water and electricity bill can drop by as much as 70 percent after installing low-flow shower heads. Less water will be used and, because of that, less energy will be needed to heat the smaller amount of water used.
Insulation – Space Heating & Cooling
Insulate above the ceiling, under the floor or even inside the walls – to keep cool in summer, warm in winter and to save energy. This means less electricity or gas usage and therefore real savings in your pocket. Because Eco-Insulation resists the flow of heat, less heat will be lost from the home or office in winter and less heat will enter the building during summer. As a form of energy, heat always flows to a cooler area, escaping out of the building in the winter and entering the building during summer. Eco- Insulation creates an eco-friendly, fire-safe and non-toxic barrier that controls temperature all year round.
As well as energy saving, home insulation also acts as a sound suppressor. Ceiling, roof or wall cavity insulation can reduce the transmission of sound from one room to another or from noise generated outside. In modern noise-laden environments, increasingly more homeowners are soundproofing their homes. Cellulose-fibre insulation can substantially reduce the energy required for heating and cooling buildings during the process of continuous heat generation or heat extraction, and it is being used in new and retrofit houses. Your lack of insulation and many gaps between doors and windows lose your heat during the winter. Insulation is the key to a warm house in Winter and a cool house in Summer.
I recommend Eco-Insulation for ‘green’ insulation. To close gaps in windows or doors I recommend neoprene – ‘All weather strips’ are available at good hardware stores. This cheap solution is very effective as it adheres to the door/window and keeps the cold drafts out.
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High Cost Solutions:
As you already have small rainwater tanks I suggest you invest in large tanks with a filter or Leaf Beater so you are able to drink the water. Install a Leaf Beater – this is ideal to use for home water tanks. It features an integrated flow directional gutter outlet, which directs the flow of water from the gutter onto an adjustable round screen of 6mm. This screen is vertical and allows water to wash the screen to minimize maintenance. A second stainless steel screen is also included to keep mozzies and vermin out of the water.
Your small rain water tank system is great for watering your garden. See Jojo Tanks for large rainwater harvesting tanks.
Install a Grey Water System
This sends all your kitchen sink, bath, shower, basin and washing machine water into the garden (via a holding tank is optional). This can be a D.I.Y. project, where you simply gravity feed your greywater into a pit and plant Banana trees around the pit. The banana trees will send ‘feet’ or roots out into the pit to draw the water. Or you can install a greywater system by a professional – contact Water Rhapsody.
As you don’t have any water saving devices on your toilets (which flush 17 Liters of water each time) I recommend these water saving options:
Your veggie garden is fabulous! However there are a few tips I can advise you on – Install a drip system to water roots with a timer for early morn or late night watering. Use mulch to keep the moisture in, you should be able to get great straw used by horses in your area, to mulch your garden, which is rich in horse manure!
Other water saving tips:
A house should be a closed loop system – meaning that water can be harvested and recycled, but if you use chemicals to wash your clothes, body and dishes with, it will go into your greywater system and therefore into your garden. Please read products labels to understand what is hazardous for your health.
Many domestic cleaners and washing powders contain phosphorus and nitrogen which goes into plants and waterways, so use a Biowash ball instead. A Biowash ball or similar product uses ceramic chips to move the water through the soiled clothes. This enables the user to ‘drop’ the RINCE cycle on the washing machine, and therefore saves water and uses no chemicals. Apply Triple Orange paste, available at Heath Shops, to stains.
Recommended Cleaning products:
Getting off the Grid
Getting off the Grid offers a way to power your home without having to rely on Eskom. There is a range of installation products available from MLT Drives, to help you live off the grid, ensuring a cleaner and more sustainable form of energy than traditional electricity sources.
The pictures below show a house that has been setup to function off the grid, powered by solar panels and a backup generator. The system powers water pumps, fridges, washing machines as well as many other household appliances and equipment. This makes the off-grid option ideal for your home. Products for a complete off-grid power installation for the home include solar panels, a generator, an inverter and a battery bank. These products are used together as a complete system, providing enough energy to power your home.
Components for Photovoltaic power (Solar):
The main benefit for considering off-grid installations for your home is of course the freedom it gives you from being on the grid. Eskom is set to raise electricity rates by as much as 25% every year, for the next 3 years in order to regain the losses they have suffered. Every year, Eskom falls further behind in electricity production and the reality is that the current power stations are just not able to handle the demand for electricity in this country. This is leading to an energy crisis in South Africa, which is showing no signs of abating. This is why homeowners are turning to alternative sources of energy to provide them with sustainable power that is not only not reliant on Eskom, but is also eco-friendly and pure. Rather than using potentially dangerous minerals to create nuclear energy, off-grid products harness the power of nature’s energy – directly from the sun or wind.
Benefits of purchasing a Wind Turbine Kit
I recommend Sustainable.co.za ‘s wind power kits, which are put together in a way that best combines the relevant and necessary components for a fully functional wind turbine system at the most economical price. There is no need for you to do any research into which components make up a fully functional system – they have done this for you. Due to the fact that that their kits are sold as a combination of parts in bulk and not as individual parts, they are able to offer lower prices on their wind turbine kits . Delivery of the kits will also be easier and cheaper. It is recommended to combine SOLAR and WIND power together to ‘Go off the Grid’.
There it is. So it looks like I didn’t do too badly, but there are definitely areas that I can improve and reduce my household’s carbon footprint. Compare yours to mine and comment if you have any suggestions of your own, but all these tips are valid, so see which ones you can start implementing and we can help be a part of this very necessary change!