Winter has come and load shedding is a thing again so it is time to start to start thinking about winter energy saving. As soon as the cold weather our first instinct is to dust off our heaters and submerge ourselves in bathtubs full of steaming water until we are in danger of becoming roasts or soups. However pleasant these ideas may be, they are strain on our municipal electricity and water supplies, and our wallets. Luckily there are many draught and load shedding friendly ways of staying warm that will save you some money too.
We are our own winter warmers
When it gets right down to it, all that really needs to be warm is ourselves. Our bodies are really good at generating their own heat provided that we give them enough fuel. Our bodies use the food we eat to keep us warm which is why we eat more in the winter. Have a hot meal to make you feel warm right away and give your body the fuel it needs to keep you warm for the next few hours.
Physical activity also warms us up and helps our systems circulate warmth to our extremities. If you find your fingers turning to icicles and your feet freezing inside your socks try going for a walk or taking the stairs. Getting your heart pumping and your muscles warm will warm up your whole body and give your brain a break at the same time.
Practice winter energy saving on yourself.
Warm air runs away. Our bodies warm a layer of air around us, that air then rises to the ceiling and is replaced with cold air. All that energy wasted. Your bed is warm because the blankets and duvet trap the air your body has warmed. Since most of us can’t wear our beds to work (as much as we want to) we need to make those warm air cocoons portable.
Lap blankets, shawls and ponchos are great cocoons on the go. Fleece is a wonderful fabric for these items, it is warm, light, soft and folds up surprising small. If you can get the kind that made from recycled water bottles you’re helping the planet twice. Knitters and crocheters are a good source of warm and beautiful winter items.
If you prefer less flappy options, thermal underwear is also a good way to trap heat and is generally not too expensive. Otherwise an extra jacket or jersey will help. We lose a lot of heat through our scalps so a hat or headscarf will make a surprising difference. Practising personal winter energy saving makes you less reliant on electricity to keep warm.
Take it, it’s free
Even in the depths of winter, the African sun is hot and we get over 10 hours of daylight. If you need to warm up in a hurry go and stand (or better yet walk) in the sun. We can also use the same principal that makes a parked car unbearable in the summer, to heat our homes. When the sun is shining let it in to heat up your room. Make sure that your internal doors are closed and keep draughts to a minimum so that the heat does not escape. When the sun has set or moved on, close the curtains to keep the heat from leaching back out through the glass. You should find that this room is noticeably warmer than the rest of the house. The sun is your friend in winter energy saving.
Only heat what you need
If you still feel you need the help of a heater here are a few things that will help keep the electricity use to a minimum.
- Use a heater with a thermostat that will turn the heater off once the room reaches a set temperature.
- Invest in a room thermometer and put it near to where you generally sit. Make note of what temperature you find comfortable. Learn what settings on your heater match that temperature or manually turn off your heater once the room has reached that temperature
- Use a small closed room with carpeting and heavy curtains. The less air you need to heat the less power you need to use.
- Don’t bother with a heater in the bedroom. Use the an electric blanket to warm the bed before you get into it then turn it off and let your body heat do the rest.
- The aforementioned lap blankets and shawls mean that you can be comfortable at lower temperatures. Use these in conjunction with your heater so that you can use a lower setting and turn it off sooner.
- Draughts are your enemy, make sure you close internal doors even in rooms that aren’t being heated. Warm air does not come in, it goes out.
- Invest in a geyser timer. You don’t need hot water when everybody is at work or school or at 2am. Most geysers only need an hour to heat all the way and will stay warm for a few hours after being turned off.
- Cover your geyser. The more the water cools off from the outside the more power the geyser uses to reheat the water. It also keeps the water warm longer after the power has been switched off.
Feel all warm and fuzzy – save energy this winter
Practice winter energy saving and get the warm and fuzzies, both from being warm and fuzzy and from helping our planet and our natural resources. Remember: eat well, get moving, wrap up warm (you and your geyser), sunshine is your friend, draughts are not and only heat what you need to.