By Dr Eugene Brink
It is a very contentious subject, but many experts agree that keeping your geyser switched on for the entire day is not power-wise. And being prudent with your electricity bill is not only beneficial to you in this age of rapidly rising electricity tariffs, but also to Eskom’s ability to provide electricity and stave off power outages.
“Geysers are responsible for between 30% and 50% of your electricity bill. Eskom recommends turning your geyser off between 06:00 and 09:00 to save electricity and reduce the load on the national grid during these peak times,” says Tammany Jackson from ANGOR Property Specialists.
Craig Berman from Saving Energy says in an average household, the geyser accounts for around 40% to 60% of the total electricity used in a month. “So, when you have thousands of geysers all running during the day and night, this places tremendous strain on the supply grid.”
According to electricity experts Mr Power, the average household geyser turns on 24 to 30 times per day anyway, and it makes economic and environmental sense to take steps to minimise this endless reheating cycle and save electricity in the process.
So how can we manage this fairly large expense? Here are a few simple tips:
- Use cold water when necessary and take (an effective) shower
Spring and its attendant warmer weather aren’t too far away and Jennifer Paddock, sectional title attorney, says washing your hands and splashing your face with cold water instead of hot water is a simple way of conserving your geyser’s energy.
It is also advised that you take a shower instead of running a full bath. This way more people in your household get to use hot water during peak periods.
But there are other ways of doing this even more efficaciously. “Energy- and water-saving showerheads reduce the flow volume of the water by more than half. An average showerhead can use around 20 litres of water per minute, around 40% of which is hot water.
“In a single five-minute shower, that amounts to 100 litres of water and 40 litres of that is hot water. Four people having a five-minute shower twice a day would use 800 litres of water and 320 litres of hot water,” Berman says.
“Installing energy- and water-efficient showerheads will reduce that flow to just 9 litres per minute. For the same four people, the water usage is now 45 litres of water per five-minute shower or 360 litres of water per day, and just 144 litres of hot water.”
- Insulate your geyser
In short, keep it inside.
According to Isotherm.co.za, insulating your geyser with a thermal blanket and insulating the pipes, will prevent heat from escaping the geyser and thus using more energy to compensate for this loss. “Keeping your geyser running with proper insulation will reduce the amount of energy required to maintain high temperatures. Tests have shown that effective insulation saves about 20% of electricity when reheating a geyser that has been off for 24 hours.”
- Install a geyser timer or controller
Berman says you should get to know your water usage patterns and then have a timer or similar controller installed so that your geyser only operates to meet those usage requirements. “For example, a family of four that needs hot water in the morning and evening for showering or bathing, and only some during the day for dishes etc., doesn’t need to have their geyser running 24/7.”
He says with a timer and blanket installed, having the geyser come on at around 16:00 and off at 18:00 will provide sufficient hot water for the morning up to around 12:00, without having to run the geyser again.
“You can have the geyser on between 13:00 and 14:00 just to maintain the water temperature. From there, the geyser can be switched off until around 16:00, and can then stay on until 18:00. Thereafter, switch it off for the rest of the night. This way, the geyser is not running during peak demand periods and contributes to lower demand on the grid, while efficiently supplying the hot-water needs of the household.”
According to the home improvement website easyDIY.co.za, a geyser controller works slightly differently. A timert turns the geyser on and off during a preset period. However, the controller first checks to see whether there is still hot water left in the tank before before reheating the water.
easyDIY.co.za, 2019, “Making savvy choices about your Geyser usage”, http://www.easydiy.co.za/index.php/news-articles/289-making-savvy-choices-about-your-geyser-usage.
Isotherm.co.za, n.d., “Does switching off the geyser really save energy?” https://www.isotherm.co.za/switching-off-geyser-really-save-energy/.
Jennifer Paddock, 20 June 2013, “Does switching off your geyser really save electricity?”, https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/701/95201.html.
Katlego Sekano, 7 October 2016, “7 myths debunked about switching off your Geyser”, https:// https://www.property24.com/articles/7-myths-debunked-about-switching-off-your-geyser/24814.
Tammany Jackson, 12 May 2016, “Managing your geyser’s electricity usage”, https://www.angor.co.za/news/managing-your-geysers-electricity-usage/.