Saving Energy in the Home

(Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Western Cape Government)
Summary

Cleaner Production is changing the way we do and use things, by making them more efficient and causing less pollution and waste. It is based on the principle that prevention is better than cure. This can lead to fundamental changes in people's mindsets and their actions. This publication provides tips on how you can save energy, save water and minimise waste.

 
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INTERESTING FACTS
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" For every kilowatt hour of energy used almost one kilogram of coal is burned."

"Water is a scarce resource and the Western Cape no longer has suitable places to build dams."

"There will only be two operational landfills left in the next two years! A new landfill is being sought but will cost millions to build and no-one wants it in their backyard."

"The world produces an average of 4 tons of CO2 per person per year, South Africans each produce 10 tons of CO2 per person per year."
 

 

 
 
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CONTACT DETAILS
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Directorate: Pollution and Waste Management
Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning
Private Bag X9086, Cape Town, 8000
Tel: 021 483 2705
Fax: 021 483 4425
catherine.bill@westerncape.gov.za

 

 

    

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

WHY IMPLEMENT CLEANER PRODUCTION IN YOUR HOME

  • IT SAVES YOU MONEY!
  • It conserves natural resources, like water
  • It reduces water and air pollution
  • It creates a healthy environment for you family

HOW TO SAVE ENERGY!

The following are some examples of what can be done in your home to make it more energy efficient:

1. Hot Water Geyser

  • Insulate the geyser by wrapping it in a geyser blanket and save R10 and R20 / month.
  • Install a timer on the geyser to avoid heating up water when you don’t need it. This can save up to 20% on your electricity bill.
  • Install a solar water heater. This pays back in electricity saving over approximately 8 years and utilizes a renewable source of energy.
  • Particularly is you are building a new house, it is a sound economic choice. Estimated savings of 20-40% of the total electricity bill.

2. Lighting

  • Use CFL’s or LED’s, which are more energy efficient, rather than normal incandescent lights for any lights which stay on longer than an hour or two per day-especially good for outside fittings which stay on all night.
  • Switch lights off when you leave the room.

3. Heating your home

  • By insulating your ceiling you can save half of heating electricity.
  • Include passive solar features if you are designing a new house:
    • Enough north facing window areas
    • Roof overhangs of the correct length to keep summer sun out but let winter sun in
    • Installing ceilings, note that it is difficult to warm up a double volume house
    • Insulate your walls and floors well, or use thermally efficient building materials.

HOW TO SAVE WATER

The following are some examples of what can be done in your home to make it more water efficient

  1. By reducing your toilet flush volume you can save 20% of your total water consumption with no reduction in convenience. Dual-flush or multi-flush systems can be installed. The dual-flush device has two fixed settings-a light setting for urine and a heavier one for solids. The multi-flush device lets you flush any amount you want-just lift the handle back up and the flush stops.
  2. By installing a system to pump grey water (from the washing machine, basins, shower and bath) to the garden, most households will eliminate the need for any additional garden watering. This can reduce your consumption by 35%. These systems cost around R4 500 to install, but will pay themselves back in water savings in about 2 years.
  3. Fitting low-flow showerheads will reduce shower water used by 50-75%. Various types are available depending on the level of user comfort desired. Showering is in any case more water efficient than bathing, even without these shower heads.
  4. Tap aerators reduce the flow in kitchen taps by around 50-75%. Normally much water from these taps flows straight down the sink without being used.

HOW TO MINIMISE WASTE

The Western Cape is producing more waste than it can dispose of. The Average Capetonian produces 1.6 kilograms of waste per day. Water seeping through the landfills pollute the groundwater and the earth. The following points give you some ideas of what can be done in your own home to minimise the amount of waste that you produce.

  1. Recycle as much of your refuge as possible. The following products can be recycled: paper, glass, tins, plastic, organics and car oil. There are recycling depots at a number of schools or organistions. Contact your local municipality or telephone directory to find a recycler near you. Make use of a twin or trio bin system. These are household bins that have been separated into compartments to allow for easy recycling. Different recyclables can go into different colour coded compartments.
  2. Compost your organic material (kitchen and garden waste). Compost can be used in the garden by mixing it with the soil to improve the soil structure. It increases the amount of organic matter in the soil and provides nutrients that will assist the plants to grow.
  3. Re-use containers as much as possible and ensure that the goods that you buy are not overpackaged in plastic. If they are, complain! It raises awareness.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • If you are decorating, chooses paints and varnishes that are solvent-free and organic.
  • Switch off your television instead of leaving it on standby-TV’s on standby still consume a quarter of their normal power.
  • Don’t automatically boil a whole kettle for only one cup of tea, only put in what you need .
  • Make use of public transport or walk or cycle to work or to the shops. Driver a smaller car as this uses less fuel, releases less pollution and requires fewer resources to manufacture.

WATER-WISE GARDENING

Because gardens are often so water intensive, it is useful to look at principles of water-wise gardening. They are also lower maintenance than normal gardens. The following tips are taken from “Water-wise gardening” (DWAF and NBI, 1998):

  • Grow water-wise plants-generally the best suited plants are those indigenous to the area as they seldom need additional watering.
  • Group plants according to their water needs-this avoids wasting water on plants that don’t need it.
  • Consider the quality and type of your lawn-lawns guzzle water, so consider reducing your lawn area.
  • Improve the soil and mulch- soil water-holding capacity is improved by higher organic matter content. Mulching (covering the soil with a thick layer of bark, compost, straw, etc) keeps the soil much more moist.
  • Plant in the right season-For winter rainfall areas, this is in autumn and early winter so the plants have a chance to develop their root systems before the dry season. In summer rainfall areas, it is spring and early summer for the same reason.
  • Water correctly-avoid watering during the heat of the day or in windy conditions. One of the best irrigation systems is drip irrigation-it uses 25% of water used by normal irrigation system with the same effect, and can even be placed under lawns.

 

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014