Five Ways to Protect Your Home Against Energy Vampires this Festive Season
South Africans are getting ready for revenge…revenge travel that is. After two years of Covid-19-induced restrictions, people are now planning on making up for the fun they missed out on during the pandemic, with at least a quarter opting for a domestic getaway and 9% going overseas - according to a recent travel intentions survey. While holidaymakers will be off relaxing on a beach somewhere, their appliances at home will still be hard at work consuming energy and racking up unexpected costs. Here's how to make sure you don’t return home to a nightmare electricity bill before Christmas.
“Smart home technologies can do the job of reducing electricity consumption for you, even while you're away, since they enable users to remotely monitor and control appliances from anywhere via an app on their smartphones,” says Dr Andrew Dickson, Engineering Executive at CBI-electric: low voltage.
He notes that not only can these technologies help to bring down your electricity bill – not to mention your stress levels about it - but other costs too – which could be handy come ‘Januworry’.
Below, Dr Dickson shares some of the ways smart home technologies can be used to save costs from a pool lounger anywhere in the world:
1. Save on a rainy day. A home’s irrigation system can be automated to switch on and off at select times. While you might be soaking up the sun in Sea Point, it could be raining in your garden in Gauteng. Since smart home apps are able to integrate with weather apps, if a rainy day is detected, the system will not switch on, saving both electricity and water which could help to lower your total municipal bill.
2. Don’t go on a power trip. Unfortunately, load shedding isn’t going anywhere these holidays. With almost 60% of South Africans having had at least one of their home appliances damaged or destroyed due to power surges as a result of load shedding, according to a survey conducted by InfoQuest/TrendER, smart technology could be used to protect against this. Users can set a minimum and maximum ‘safe operating voltage range’ for their appliances via the app. If the voltage is unstable, the technology will monitor voltage levels and only allow power to the appliance once this is within a safe operating range.
3. Pay less at the pump. A typical pool pump uses about 1 kilowatt per hour – the same as running a 100-watt light bulb continuously for 10 hours. It’s not surprising then that Eskom has stated that if an average household reduces their pool pump operating time by just one hour per day, the annual demand reduction will be around 274kWh or approximately R680 in savings. Smart technology enables users to schedule when their pumps run, and this can be during off-peak periods when electricity costs less.
4. Don’t just standby. When in standby mode, gadgets like microwaves, computers, televisions, coffee machines, gaming consoles and even garage door openers can consume even more electricity than when they are in use. While the obvious solution would be to unplug all non-essential devices and appliances before you go away, sometimes this can be forgotten in the midst of all the excitement – just ask the kid from the Home Alone movies. Smart technology lets users switch off any items that are drawing power unnecessarily.
5. Be on the safe side. Security companies say that having lighting can be a deterrent to burglars as they prefer to break in when the house is empty, but that this must seem natural, and not just on 24/7 – which is also costly. Smart technology can be used to schedule both indoor and outdoor lighting to turn on and off in ways that mimic real behaviour and suggest someone is at home. Additionally, with remote jamming being a common way for criminals to gain entry into people’s properties via their garages and gates, smart technology can be used to thwart these attempts by switching off electricity at these entry points while homeowners are out of town as well as by alerting them of a possible breach.
“These are a few ways that holidaymakers can see the impact of their efforts which will hopefully mean they won’t be too badly burnt by their electricity bill during their break – just the sun,” concludes Dr Dickson.