Four Hot Tech Tools to Cost-Efficiently Warm Your Home this Winter
It is a well-known fact that consumers’ electricity bills increase during winter as we use more energy trying to stay warm. Plus, we spend more time in our heated homes avoiding the icy elements outside. But this year, South Africans may be faced with even higher bills as energy regulator Nersa has proposed an increase on municipal electricity tariffs by another 8.61% in July[i], which will impact cash-strapped homeowners even further. However, there are energy-efficient ways to fend off the cold this winter and keep electricity bills down.
Dr Andrew Dickson, Executive: Engineering at CBI-electric: low voltage says that with this price increase, from July it will cost R81,85 to use a wall panel heater for three hours a day for 30 days, R146.36 to do the same with underfloor heating, and a whopping R346.64 to run a three-bar electric heater over the same period[ii]. “This has prompted South Africans to look for new ways to warm up this winter. One way to do this is through tech which is disrupting every aspect of our lives.”
He shares four tech tools that could help South Africans stay toasty without getting burnt by their next electricity bill:
1. Smart plugs. These allow you to control when your heater, electric blanket and underfloor heating switches on or off. By being able to schedule these appliances using a timer, it can help to save electricity and, at the same time, ensure safety as you won’t need to worry about whether you left the heater on. What’s more, when it’s hard to get out of bed on those icy winter mornings, all you need to do is set a timer to warm up the room before you even wake up. With wall panel heaters already having the lowest running costs, you can get even more bang for your buck by controlling its usage with a smart plug.
2. Air purifier fan heaters. Usable all year round, these appliances heat rooms in winter, keep them cool in summer and continually clean the air. Not only do they heat up spaces more effectively than traditional heaters since they circulate air, but they do so in a more energy efficient way too. One of the reasons for this is because users can select the precise degree to which they want the device to heat up to - 30°C for instance - and it will automatically shut off and on to maintain this, whereas other heaters stay on and tend to overheat a room, wasting electricity. Additionally, these gadgets are better for users’ health since they trap and remove viruses, bacteria, household dust, pet dander, pollen, outdoor pollution, dust mites, mould spores, smoke and other allergens and pollutants from the air. Cleaner air means fewer air-pollution-related illnesses, which in turn saves costs.
3. Smart isolators. These are energy monitoring, scheduling and controlling switches with load management and automation capabilities. One of the ways you can use a smart isolator is to remotely operate your geyser, ensuring that it is only on for a certain amount of time to manage energy consumption and save electricity while also ensuring that there is always hot water available for a shower or bath. With smart isolators you can also manage loads which draw a large amount of energy, ensuring only one device is on at any given moment. As an example, when you switch the stove on, the geyser is automatically switched off, which aids in limiting the consumption of your household at any given time.
4. Heat pumps. With geysers being responsible for between 30% and 50% of household electricity consumption[iii], heat pump water heaters could provide a more energy efficient solution. These tools, which are usually installed in or on the roof or mounted on exterior walls, work on the same principle as a refrigerator, but instead of pumping heat out of the fridge to keep it cool, they pump heat into your water. They do this by extracting heat from the outside air and transferring it to the water, whereas traditional geysers use an electrical source to do so. Heating water with a heat pump uses two thirds less energy than traditional geysers[iv]. With one of these installations, you can languish in a hot shower guilt free!
“With the right tools you can save money, stay warm, make your home smarter, and become more energy efficient,” concludes Dickson.