Around the world, people are stepping up and taking notice of ways they can become more energy-efficient. Sometimes, it's because they want to lower their carbon footprint on an earth that is constantly worrying about global warming. Other times, it's because they are looking for a way to save money during home ownership. Most often, it's a combination of the two. Are you looking for ways to make your South African home more energy-efficient? Check out these tips to help you get started.
1. Install Solar Panels
South Africa sees sunshine all year, averaging more than 2,500 hours of it each year. The available solar energy in the region means a number of homeowners are turning toward solar energy as a means of upgrading their homes, lowering their carbon footprints, and saving money, all while being energy-efficient. There are a variety of solar panel options available, and many homeowners choose to install a battery as part of their solar panel system. The battery holds on to any excess solar energy, allowing for lighting during the nighttime hours and if the power goes out in a home that uses a mixture of solar energy and grid power.
2. Program Your Thermostat
South Africa sees fairly moderate temperatures. During the summer months, highs often hover between 77 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter months are very mild and produce average high temperatures of around 63 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that many people don't use their thermostats much at all. Whether you only use yours on the chilliest of evenings or you like to keep your home the same temperature all year, a programmable thermostat is an excellent energy-saving option. Instead of keeping your system running even when you aren't home to achieve the desired effect, a programmable option can start and stop based on your preset schedule. Try setting it to lower or raise your home's temperature 20-30 minutes before you arrive home. You'll likely see better energy efficiency without sacrificing comfort.
3. Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances
Which large appliances do you have in your home? If they are more than a few years old, they're probably using more energy than you realize, and costing you more money in the process. Washers and dryers, stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers are the biggest culprits when it comes to energy-sucking appliances. Most new models are more energy-efficient and could save you upwards of 85% of the energy your old appliances consumed. Since 2018, finding efficient appliances in South Africa has become much easier. The Department of Energy now focuses on introducing appliances to the market only if they meet the Minimum Energy Performance Standards. Look for the energy labels provided by the Standards and Labelling program to determine which appliances will best meet your needs for use and efficiency.
4. Use Bamboo Flooring
While a lot of energy-efficient information is based around lighting and appliances, the flooring you use in your home can be just as important for efficiency. Bamboo flooring is becoming increasingly popular, for example. The environmentally friendly option grows quickly, doesn't require many pesticides to grow, and produces plenty of oxygen in the process, making it easy to see why it's replacing wood in a lot of cases. In addition to producing more oxygen and being easy to install over current flooring, bamboo is affordable, resistant to scratches and staining, slip-resistant, and much easier to maintain than its traditional counterparts.
5. Switch to a Tankless Water Heater
What kind of water heater does your home use? If it's a traditional one with a tank, you're very likely wasting energy and money. Water heaters that use tanks must continuously heat the water to ensure it's ready to use when you turn the faucet on. This means more energy consumed, not to mention a harder-working system that will require maintenance more often. Many experts recommend switching to a tankless system. These water heaters heat right when you need it, ensuring you never run out of hot water but also that your system is never working itself for no reason. While these systems do cost more upfront, they provide a high return on investment relatively quickly.
Remember, when switching to solar panels, high-end appliances, or any other item on this list, it's important to work with professionals. Experts in the fields can ensure you choose the right items for your home and then install them safely and securely.