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Affordable ways to ‘go green’

27 Oct 2010

The first thing we all tend to envision, when considering the idea of converting our offices or homes into more eco-friendly buildings that consume less energy, are massive solar panels, solar water heating systems and wind turbines – all of which come at a fairly costly capital investment. The truth is however, that we can all start saving substantial amounts of energy and money, starting today, with very little upfront cost whatsoever.

Below is a short list of three affordable ways to make our homes greener as well as save a significant amount of money on energy bills:

LED lights

LED lights are fast becoming the standard in new buildings all over South Africa, and so they should be. Not only do they not cost an arm and a leg to purchase, install and maintain; but they use substantially less energy than regular lighting, which translates into significant financial benefits for homeowners.

Cost and energy saving benefits of LED light bulbs:

- LED light bulbs use 85% - 90% less energy than regular light bulbs.
- An ‘average’ family household of four people will spend about R300 per month on lighting.
- Implementing LED lights will reduce this lighting cost to just R30 per month, that’s a R270 saving each month.
- The upfront cost for converting an ‘average’ household to LED lighting will cost in the region of R10 000.
- Taking into account the upfront investment amount and the amount of money you will be saving monthly by implementing LED lighting, your payback period for your initial investment would be about three years.
- Once you have ‘broken even’ with your investment in LED light bulbs, you will only be spending approximately R30 per month on lighting for the remainder of the LED lights’ lifespan which is an impressive 10 – 15 years, depending on usage.

Water saving shower heads

Converting all the showerheads in your household to water saving shower heads can have a significant effect on the environment as well as your wallet. Not only do you save water, but the less water you use, the less energy you need to heat the water, and the less energy you use to heat water, the less your electricity bill costs every month.

Water saving benefits:

- An ‘average’ household uses the shower for about 30 minutes per day.
- Non-water saving shower heads expel approximately 18 litres of water per minute.
- An effective water saving shower head will use approximately 8 litres of water per minute.
- Taking the above into account, the implementation of a water saving shower head will save approximately 300 litres of water per day – that’s huge!

Considering the significantly diminished amount of water consumption per day, the following water heating and overall electricity savings will result in the various monetary rewards:

- Approximate daily savings on electricity per day = R9.48
- Approximate daily savings on water per day = R1.80
- Approximate daily savings per day on electricity and water  combined = R11.28
- Your total approximate savings per 30 days on electricity and water = R338.40
- Your total approximate annual savings on electricity and water combined = R4060.80

As you can see above: By spending between just R80 and R800 on a water saving shower head of your choice, you can save yourself substantial amounts of money each year. If you have a larger house that uses even more water, the financial benefits just continue to grow.

Geyser timer, blanket and pipe insulators

Water heating contributes a large portion towards your monthly electricity bill; which is why a geyser timer, geyser blanket and pipe insulators can make such a big difference to your overall energy consumption.

A recent case study carried out by, a leading online eco-store in South Africa, revealed that if geyser blankets and pipe insulators are used in conjunction with a geyser timer, it is only necessary for a household geyser to be turned on for three hours a day.

By having your geyser turned on for only three hours a day, the following reductions in your overall energy consumption will come into effect:

- 30% reduction in geyser energy consumption.
- 15% reduction in overall home electric energy consumption.
- 15% reduction on your monthly electricity bill.

Geyser timers, geyser blankets and pipe insulation will only set you back about R500, R250 and R100 per 5 metres respectively. This is a relatively small amount of money to spend in order to reduce your carbon footprint as well as reduce your electricity costs.

What are you waiting for?

By implementing even one of the above suggestions, you are able to save a significant amount of energy and water which then translates into monetary savings for your family. Implement all three of these suggestions and your monetary savings will increase two-fold.

All of the above products are suitable for installation in most households and can be delivered to you and installed within days. You need not spend thousands of rands on reducing your carbon footprint; a few small steps can make a significant difference.

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