There is nothing worse than your electricity bill increasing during the colder months. What do you sacrifice from your budget to stay warm? Or do you turn your house into a walk-in freezer to save on expenses? This dilemma can put you between a rock and a hard place, but don’t worry; our top tips will keep you warm this winter without breaking the bank.
A Little Can Go A Long Way
A commonly asked question is, ‘How long should I leave my heater on? Is it cheaper or more expensive to keep turning it on and off?’ This has caused a debate about what is more costly and where cuts can be made to save without freezing.
The thought that it’s cheaper to leave your heating on low for extended periods has been disproven, as has the idea of switching it on and off constantly, as the heater will keep on having to build up power to generate heat. Switching the heating on when needed at a moderate temperature is more efficient and less costly than turning it up to full blast.
There is a way to determine how much it will cost to use your heater for your chosen time. This will help you see how much you will spend heating your house:
Heater Wattage (W)/1000 x hours of use per day x R/kWh. This calculation will give you the cost per day for an electric heater.
Heat Your Rooms More Efficiently
We can all agree that it is not great being without heat during winter or seeing an exceptionally high electricity bill at the end of the month. This dilemma leaves a lot of South Africans feeling frustrated. How can we stay warm without having to pay a fortune for it?
Some of us can use alternative heat sources, such as a gas heater or wooden fireplace. If you depend on electric heating for your house, we have a few tricks to help you take the strain off your electric heater and wallet.
We first need to consider how many rooms you currently heat in the winter. Ideally, it is best to heat the room or rooms you occupy. Let’s say you work from home during the day: then only your office needs to be heated. At night if you are relaxing in the lounge, you heat the lounge, and if you have children who are busy with homework, they can join you in the lounge so that only one room needs to be heated. It is essential to keep the doors of unoccupied rooms closed. This prevents the heat from escaping the room.
During the day, you should keep your curtains or blinds open, this small action helps to warm up the room naturally, and when you close those curtains or blinds in the evening, they will work as an insulator and keep the heat inside your home. Before winter, it is best to reseal any windows to prevent cold air from entering your home and the warmth from escaping.
By using a draft stopper, you can prevent cold air from coming under your doors and dropping the temperature in your home. All you need to do is find the doors with drafts and simply lay the draft stopper where you feel the cold breeze. For even better heat retention, you can seal any gaps. A tiny crack can cause an intense draft which can cause a room to become unnecessarily cold. Seal any openings in the exterior walls with an appropriate sealant, and pay attention to any areas with pipes, as small movements and temperature changes can cause cracks to form. Making these small changes will make a big difference in your electricity usage and bill at the end of the month.
Electric Heaters vs Gas Heaters
Besides worrying about the price of warming your home, load shedding adds an extra layer of complexity. This brings in the debate about gas heating vs electric heating.
Electric heaters are one of the easiest ways to warm your home. All you have to do is plug it in and switch it on. With electric heaters, there are two costs: purchasing the heater and using it, not to mention the planning around load shedding when you can use it.
- The bigger the watts of your heater, the bigger the bill.
- Higher settings use more watts. Turning the dial up will bring you more heat, but it will show in your bill.
- The longer it is on, the more watts are used.
- Low-wattage heaters cost less but may not be as effective in heating your room, especially large rooms.
The most popular gas heater in South Africa is the 3-panel heater which uses a 9kg gas canister. With gas, you have two main costs, the purchase of your heater and the price of your gas bottle. After these two initial costs, you will only have to pay to refill your gas, generally between R250 and R350. According to a test done at Midgas, a 9kg canister of gas lasts around 30 hours if run on its highest setting. However, gas heaters are very efficient at warming up a room, meaning you won’t have to run it on full power, which will extend the hours of use.
Below is a side-by-side comparison.
|Not dependent on Eskom for power.
|Dependent on Eskom or alternative sources of power.
|Can be moved more easily and freely.
|Needs to be close to a plug point.
|Heats up quickly and can be adjusted to a lower setting or switched off once desired temperature is reached.
|Traditional heaters can take a long time to heat up. While some newer models are quicker, they still need a fair amount of time.
|It is easy to budget as you can determine which size gas bottle your household will require and how long it lasts.
|The cost of electricity tends to fluctuate more and is easily affected by the energy crisis in South Africa.
|A gas heater is a once-off purchase except for gas refills.
|An electric heater is a once-off purchase, with extra expense depending on how often you use it.
Don’t Be Insulted By The Cold, Insulate Your Ceiling
One thing about living in South Africa is that we do not get extreme weather conditions like other countries, especially during our winters. Still, we can all agree that when it drops below a specific temperature, we struggle, especially if you live in the warmer parts of the country. One of the best ways to make your home more cold-proof is to insulate your home. Insulating your home will be a once-off cost which is well worth investing in, as it will save you in the long run by keeping your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
You might be asking yourself now, but why is insulation so important? The answer is easy, a well-insulated home is vital to lower electricity costs and usage. By improving your home’s insulation, you can see a 30% – 40% decrease in both your heating and cooling bills.
Houses retain little heat on their own. A significant amount of heat can easily escape through the walls, ceiling and windows during winter. On average, a home which is not insulated can lose:
- 35% of heat through the ceiling
- 25% of heat through the walls (depending on the type of construction)
- 20% through the floors
- 10% through the windows
- 10% via Air gaps.
Insulation prevents this by counteracting air’s natural tendency to move from warmer to colder areas by reducing heat transfer. In short, insulation stops the cold air from entering your home through the ceiling and walls, creating a barrier to slow the movement of heat out of your living areas.
Take The Heat Off Of Your Wallet
One thing you should not stress about is how much a hot bath in winter will cost you at the end of the month with how much electricity they use, and not to forget if you will have warm water with load shedding striking at the worst of times.
One of the ways to combat this is to invest in either a solar or a gas geyser, which will cut your electricity cost by a significant amount. There are a few things to consider, such as initial installation costs and what will work best for your household, but you will have a reliable source of hot water without having to stress about how much it will cost you.
With a solar geyser, your electricity consumption will be dramatically reduced. You can expect to save up to 70% of electricity consumption while your standard electric geyser uses between 30% – 50% of your monthly electricity bill. Going solar for water heating means you will not be affected by the current electricity shortage as the sun provides power, not Eskom.
Before you start to stress about the cloudy days and if you can generate power to heat your water, know that a typical solar panel can generate between 10% – 25% of its estimated capacity on heavily overcast days.
If you pick a gas geyser, they are far more efficient than electrical geysers offering a more cost-effective solution to heating your water and saving money. With a gas geyser, you can see a cut in your electricity bill of up to 40%, and with the severe power outages we experience, it makes sense to switch to gas.
One of the main benefits of ditching the electric geyser and switching to gas is energy efficiency. Gas is much more energy efficient than electric geysers as they only use gas when hot water is required and stay switched off the rest of the time. This contrasts with traditional electric geysers, which remain switched on 24/7 or for extended periods. The price of gas is also generally lower than the price of electricity, resulting in further savings.
Making minor adjustments can lead to substantial savings. Keep your electricity costs low, and your homes warm this winter. Ask in-store for friendly advice on saving time and money while staying Powered Up for Winter.
Ask in-store for friendly advice on saving time and money while staying Powered Up for Winter.