We need to find ways to reduce our cost of living for ourselves and our only home, planet Earth.
After 1000's of hours of research and trial and error and millions of Rands invested, I have a sequence of steps to help you reduce your cost of living.
There are a lot of web sites devoted to helping you do this, but people don't know where to start and often do nothing.
Here are a list of things that you can look into doing. They are from least cost and increasing in cost (prices are from 2010):
- Join an organisation to show your support for a different future
- Like MyPowerStation on Facebook to show that you care about supporting a company that is helping us reduce our carbon footprint (zero cost). This also helps me (David) to feel your support and find more ways to help you;
- Halve your meat intake. One hectare of soy can feed 60 people, but one hectare of soy fed to cows and then the cows fed to people only feeds two people. If every person in South Africa ate 1kg less meat in the next year, we would need 213,000 fewer cows. The meat industry is the the biggest polluter by far with some experts suggesting that 51% of our carbon footprint comes from eating meat (negative cost as you save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and eat more healthily reducing your heath costs);
- If you live in a house, recycle your leaves and grass instead of throwing it in your bin. This is called composting. All you need are old plastic bags (eg 20kg dog food bags), a little bit of space in a sunny area and some water once a week. Keep the mixture moist and therefore humid. In 3 to 6 months you will have beautiful, healthy soil and you'll wonder why you sent the rubbish to the tip and bought compost (a few cents a month for the water and 5 minutes a week of your time);
- Reduce your geyser temperature to 55 degrees celsius (-ve cost). In summer you can reduce it to 40 degrees if there are only 2 people in the house and heat to 55 degrees every 2 weeks to get rid of any bugs. Note that if you use the water ever day, you shouldn't have any problems with water at 40 degrees celsius;
- Put a brick in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water that is used each time you flush (-ve cost because of the saving in water);
- "If its pale, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." See if you can leave the stuff in your toilet in order to save water (-ve cost because of the saving in water);
- Check the tariff you pay for your electricity. You can save a lot of money by ensuring you are on the right tariff!
- Install CFL lights which use 8 Watts instead of 60 Watts. This 52 Watt saving, for a light which is on for 4 hours per day, equals R80 per year per light! Some people say that CFL lights are bad because they have mercury in them, but they have a tiny amount of mercury compared with the mercury that is spewed out of power station chimneys each year;
- Plant 3 trees per annum to "offset" your carbon footprint. If you are 50 years old, you should plant more trees as you need to plant 150 trees to catch up. example http://greenpop.org/ at R75 per tree;
- Insulate or "lag" your hot water pipes as a lot of heat can be lost through your hot water pipes (a few hundred rand). Ensure that the lagging can withstand 95 degrees celsius and check its guarantee;
- Install a geyser blanket, but make sure it is tight around your geyser, otherwise it has the opposite effect (R400);
- Buy a worm farm (R500 to R1000?). This is for recycling your organic matter in your kitchen;
- Buy an Efergy Electricity Meter (R899 Recommended Retail Price). This will help you measure and understand your electricity use so that you can manage and reduce it. You will find your phantom loads and you will take measures to keep reducing your electricity. It also gives you a baseline or benchmark that you can compare against once you start doing the next few things;
- Buy a geyserwise (R1000?). This will help you reduce the cost of your geyser;
- Insulate your roof (R1000 upwards; R3000 approx for a three bedroom house). This can make the difference between needing heating and airconditioning or not. Even if you have insulation, you might want to check it as sometimes it compacts and adding more might help. If you have air conditioning and you add insulation, you might actually save money within a year;
- Consider a second pool pump (R2000 for 400Watts);
- Install a grey water system to save water; Install a system to recycle your pool water to save more water; (R3000 upwards). This can be difficult for an existing house regarding "retrofitting" the house, but place it under consideration;
- Install a rain water collection tank (R4500 for a 5,000 litre tank). You might need to change your gutters and if you have the space and the budget then install 5,000 litres per person;
- Put in a solar water heater geyser (R3000 to R8000). You don't need to put in the solar panels at the same time. The geyser must be efficient and mustn't lose more than 2 degrees celsius or .5 (half) a kilowatt hour in 24 hours. Old geysers and even some new geysers can lose 15 degrees celsius and 3 kwh in 24 hours assuming that the water is hot to start with and you don't use any water in that 24 hour period;
- Install a solar water heater (R5,000 to R30,000 and rebates of up to R12,000). R15,000 spent on heating your water is equivalent to R50,000 spent on solar panels to make electricity to heat water! An effective solar water heater should give you three days of backup water assuming no sun for those three days. Most geysers are under-specified in South Africa and hence can still use up to 60% of the electricity they used to use);
- Install a renewable energy system to make electricity. R50,000 upwards. A house that uses 1000 KWH per month will cost R300,000 to R600,000 depending on whether you want grid tie (no batteries) or batteries, but an experienced installer who follows the above techniques can bring the price down to under R150,000.
- If you are in a building install occupancy sensors to automatically switch lights on and off;
- If you have time of use metering, then try to move your heavy loads to outside peak time. This means aircondition your offices from 3 to 5am and then switch off the airconditioners from 5am to 9am;
- If you have machinery, don't turn it all on at the same time. A 10% saving in your peak demand load, eg from 2MW to 1.8MW can dramatically reduce your electricity bill.