Energy saving tips for households in South Africa – and how to calculate the energy cost of an appliance

The recent increase of just under 10% in Eskom tariffs came into effect at the beginning of April 2022. Along with the year-on-year electricity price increases that have been shouldered by the South African public, various campaigns continue to raise awareness around climate change and the need for greater energy efficiency in the country.

For South Africans, saving energy is both a short- and long-term imperative – the former serving as a way to relieve financial pressure and the latter serving as a means by which to contribute to the global 2030 target of net zero.

This is according to a Defy South Africa spokesperson, who said that against the backdrop of the recent observance of World Earth Day, solving the energy crisis in South Africa is as much about the ‘bigger picture’ as it is about the microeconomics of our country.

“The need for energy-efficiency has never been more urgent and is something that all South Africans can work towards in their individual capacities.”

According to a 2021 University of Cape Town study, the appliances that most South African households own are fridges, geysers, washing machines and televisions. The study concluded that the residential sector, which consumes a fifth of the world’s energy, stands to benefit from the national move towards energy efficiency as stipulated in the government’s post-2015 National Energy Efficiency Strategy.

This Strategy aims for a 20% improvement in the average energy performance of the residential sector by 2030, relative to the 2015 baseline.

“The goal of becoming a more energy-efficient country can be reached in two significant ways. Firstly, South African households need to employ measures to use energy more efficiently by understanding how appliances work. Secondly, South Africans can make a difference by making more conscious purchasing decisions when it comes to the appliances they use every day.

Much of this ‘conscious consumerism’ is rooted in understanding how appliances are rated and the amount of money they can save by making better purchasing decisions.”

Defy South Africa provides the following tips to save electricity in relation to the most commonly used household appliances:


1. Maintenance checks can go a long way in conserving energy for refrigeration

For the 98% of South Africans who own fridges and use them daily, there are a few ways to optimise the energy usage of these important appliances. On a monthly basis, the suction of the seals on the doors of fridges and freezers should be checked to ensure that they are working properly.

Broken or compromised seals can cause warm air leakage, which increases the amount of electricity that the appliances need to use to keep the contents cool. Consumers should also allow food to cool properly before placing them inside a fridge, to keep the appliance’s internal temperature as low as possible.


2. Learn how to calculate the energy cost of an appliance before buying it

When it comes to buying a new fridge, a handy hack is to calculate its energy usage beforehand in order to determine its affordability in the long term. To do this, multiply the kWh figure provided on the label by the cost of electricity in your municipality. For example, a fridge that uses 254 kWh per year at a rate of R2 per kWh, will cost R508 annually.

Defy has performed competitive analyses on fridge models to help South Africans determine how their buying decisions can help them save money in the long run.

For example, a Defy 157 Top Freezer/Fridge (DAD238) with a 151-litre net volume (enough for a small family) can save consumers just under R470 per year when compared to other models, which amounts to an over R2300 saving over five years. Consumers should weigh up these kinds of savings with the cost of the initial outlay and consider the long term when purchasing new fridges.


3. Make smarter choices around washing clothing

On average, washing machines consume about 60% of their power to heat up water. Therefore, for daily washes, the best way to save energy when using a washing machine is to use cold water. Another lifestyle tip for washing clothes is to pre-soak stained clothing in stain remover before loading these into the washing machine.

This could help to reduce the number of washing cycles needed for a full clean and save energy in the long term. Consumers can also reduce the energy usage of their washing machines by scheduling the washing of clothes to certain days of the week and waiting until full loads are available before using the machine.


4. Use ratings as guidelines when buying a new appliance

For consumers buying new washing machines, it’s useful to understand the way that these appliances are rated. For example, a Defy 9kg Front Loader SteamCure washing machine (DAW389) has a rating of A+++. This particular rating stems from the European standard which rates appliances in classes from A to G, with A being the most energy-efficient and G being the least.

An A grade appliance is divided into three further categories: A+, A++ and A+++, the latter of which is rated the most energy-efficient.

Reading the label on a new washing machine can help consumers understand how efficient the product is. Generally, high-rated products use less energy, which leads to a reduction in electricity spend as well as a decrease in CO2 emissions – for consumers, higher-rated appliances are therefore a win-win buying decision.

This same principle applies to other appliances like stoves, ovens, kettles and dishwashers.


Read: Energy expert warns of ‘national disaster’ if blackouts in South Africa aren’t addressed right now

Must Read

Partner Content

Show comments

Trending Now

Follow Us

Energy saving tips for households in South Africa – and how to calculate the energy cost of an appliance