Watch this fun 90 second video showing the imploding cooling towers in reverse – that is, the Athlone Towers slowly rising from the dust and being re-instated.

The message is that if we do not become more energy efficient, then the authorities will need to build more power-generators, and more and more.

The Best Ways to save electricity at home.

“The good news”, says Sarah Ward, Head of the City’s Energy and Climate Change Unit, “is that everyone can take one or two everyday steps to reduce the amount of electricity they use, and many of these steps don’t cost a thing. In fact, you can save up to 10% before investing a single Rand.”    Click here to learn about domestic electricity tariffs and pricing.

 The City has compiled a convenient checklist of  the  Best Ways to save electricity at home:

No cost options: simple behaviour change.

1 Turn geyser temperature down to 55 degrees.  Maintaining the temperature at 55 degrees uses less electricity (energy) than the default temperature setting. Don’t drop it below 55 degrees for health reasons.  In most cases, the thermostat is located in the little cover over the electrical element of the geyser. Switch off the electricity circuit at the mains, undo the cover, and then turn down the thermostat using a screwdriver. Or hire a plumber to help you.

2 Use less hot water. Shower instead of bathing, and take shorter showers. Only fill the kettle as much as you need it. Wash a full load of dishes, rather than one dish at a time.

3 Use cold water where possible for laundry washing.

4 Turn appliances off at the wall plug when not in use. Leaving them on standby can still draw about 20% or more of normal electricity use. (For music systems, computers, chargers etc.) Turn the geyser off when you go on holiday.

5 Reduce pool pump operating hours. Drop the operating hours of your cleaning system pump to the minimum e.g. 6 hours a day. Clean filters regularly. Consider a pool cover and turning off the pump in winter.

6 Reduce excessive heating or cooling.   Space heating or cooling is a power ‘guzzler’. Use room specific equipment rather than central air-conditioning or heating systems. Only heat or cool only occupied rooms. Room temperature should not be more than 10 degrees more or less than the outside/ ambient temperature. Fan or oil heaters with thermostats are best. Avoid under-floor heating. In summer use a fan rather than air-conditioning. The best ‘no cost’ saving options are wearing warmer clothing in winter or opening the windows in summer.

Low cost options: investing under R1000

7 Install an efficient showerhead. Cape Town water by-laws limit shower flow rates to no more than 10 liters per minute. To test this at home, hold a bucket under the showerhead for 12 seconds. Measure the amount of water within the bucket with a measuring jug. If there is more than 2 liters then your showerhead is inefficient. A good, low flow showerhead will save both water and electricity without compromising your shower experience, and pays for itself within a few months.

8 Insulate the geyser and water pipes leading to it (for 3 meters), to maximise heat retention. Check heat loss with basic ‘hand test’.  If the geyser is warm, it’s losing heat and needs better insulation. This is usually necessary for older geysers.  Appoint a good installer or do a thorough job yourself, and check the insulation is still in place after a few weeks because installation isn’t always straightforward and can come undone.

9 Install efficient lighting. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) use 75% less power than old incandescent bulbs, and last much longer. Note that CFLs contain small amounts of harmful chemicals (mercury).  It is important that you dispose of them safely. Retailers like Woolworths & Pick n Pay (Long Beach) have drop off points. New ‘light-emitting diodes’ (LEDs) are even more efficient and last 130 times longer than CFL bulbs.  At this stage they have limited applications in homes. But watch this space, although they are expensive the cost is coming down as the technology develops. Switch off lights in unoccupied rooms.

‘Invest to save’

10 Installing a solar water heater can save about two thirds of water heating costs.  Savings vary and your solar water heater should be installed with a timer for the best results.  With rising electricity tariffs, and the new subsidies from Eskom (see, the payback period is now no more than 5 years. Install a heat pump as an alternative, if a solar water heater is not possible.
11 Insulate ceiling/roof.  Adding a ceiling and putting in roof insulation can keep your home 5 degrees warmer in winter, and 10 degrees cooler in summer, resulting in a lower need for electrical heating and cooling. Insulating and sealing other parts of the house also helps (e.g. stopping heat loss through windows or under doors), but the highest savings are from roof insulation as heat rises.