Energy-saving ideas for ordinary people

Posted by Alastair Otter on June 14, 2007
Posted in Green tips, Lifestyle

The Western Cape held a renewable energy and climate change summit in Cape Town last week and on its website there are a number of helpful ideas on what you can do to tackle climate change by improving your car’s fuel efficiency and using less electricity.

Here’s a selection of them.

Improve the fuel efficiency of your car by:
• Closing the windows when you’re driving. “An open window creates a drag that increases fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent. For a person who spends R100 a week on petrol, a 20 percent saving could mean saving R20 a week, which adds up to R80 a month”.
• Use multigrade oil in your engine because it reduces drag.
• Service your car regularly.
• Use a logbook to record your fuel purchases and kilometres travelled to set new economic goals and to spot changes in the performance of your vehicle that may be due to mechanical malfunction.
• Establish lift clubs.
• Switch to radial-ply tyres because they offer less rolling resistance and longer life than the cross-ply variety.
• Avoid driving with under-inflated tyres because a tyre pressure that is too low not only increases consumption, but reduces a tyre’s life.
• Avoid stop-start driving.
• Accelerate slowly.
• Do not speed, the faster you drive the more petrol you use.

Six simple ways to save energy while you cook:
• Put lids on your pots when you cook to conserve heat and energy.
• Boil only the amount of water you need instead of a full pot or kettle.
• Close the fridge door every time you take something out. Check that the seal closes properly.
• Soak beans, samp and other dry food over night. This saves several hours of cooking.
• Use pots and pans with flat bottoms so the base makes full contact with the stove plate. This will use up to 50 percent less energy.
• Electric stoves consume a lot of electricity so use the plates and oven as little as possible. Gas is more efficient for heating and cooking.

Tips to help you lower your electricity and water bills:
• Skip the pre-wash cycle on your washing machine if your clothes are not particularly dirty. This can save up to 20 percent electricity.
• Wash bed linen at 60 degrees instead of 90 degrees.
• Turn off all stand-by modes every time you leave the house and before going to bed.
• Use energy-saving light bulbs. They last much longer and use less electricity.
• Do all your ironing at the same time instead of in little bits.
• Repair faulty and damaged energy-consuming appliances as they tend to consume more energy.
• Switch off the lights, fans, computers and other appliances when you leave the room.
• Gas is more efficient for heating and cooking.
• Insulate your geyser and the outlet pipes with newspapers, old blankets or insulating materials.
• Lower the temperature of your geyser to around 55 degrees so you don’t need to add as much cold water when you shower or do the dishes.
• Take a shower instead of a bath to save on hot water.
• Use a low-flow showerhead to control the amount of water used.
• Do not let hot water pour out of taps and down the drain.
• Fix all leaking taps.
• Check your electricity or gas meter at regular intervals and take a keen interest in your energy consumption level.
• Share your energy consumption information with your neighbours – discuss your electricity bills!

Building a new house? You can increase energy efficiency by:
• Making sure the house faces north.
• Installing large north-facing windows.
• Insulating the walls and ceilings.
• Using compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Recycle your waste and save energy.
• Support recycling efforts by buying products with the recycled mark (three arrows that make a triangle).
• Recycle newspapers. Paper made from recycled paper uses about one-third less energy than paper made from raw materials.
• Recycle glass bottles and jars. Glass made from recycled glass also uses about one-third less energy than glass made from raw materials.
• Recycle aluminium cans and tinfoil. Aluminium cans made from recycled aluminium use 90 percent less energy than aluminium made from raw materials.
• Buy products with no packaging and wrapping or as little possible.

Use renewable energy as much as possible.
• Install a solar water-heater instead of an electric geyser.
• Do not switch on lights if sunlight is sufficient.
• Use the sun to dry your washing instead of a tumble drier.
• Buy clothes that don’t require ironing.


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