Many South Africans take leave over Easter and other holidays. Because they’re not going away and might just be at home during that time, they inevitably use more electricity…

Brett Cohen, owner of Centurion-based The Gas Company, offers some tips on how to save power (and your budget):

Do a shutdown

If you’re going away for the holidays, be sure to switch off the geyser before you leave. Many people just plain forget. You’ll be billed for all that unused hot water and you might be in for a nasty shock when you get home.

If your geyser blows while you’re away, you’ll come back to a disaster. Not only will you have to replace the unit but it can easily blast a very large hole in your roof, not to mention flooding your house and valuables. You’ll have to pay for the wasted water, the insurance excess and much more.

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Insurance companies report that geysers constitute 70% of household insurance claims, with 35% related to replacing the geyser itself and 35% due to the damage it causes

Use a timer

Whether you’re going on holiday or not, an electrical timer can easily be fitted to the geyser’s power line on your home’s distribution board. Once installed you can set it to switch on before you need hot water most and off over periods you don’t. Some people fret that constantly switching a geyser on and off will somehow damage the thermostat or crack the tank. But Cohen confirms there’s nothing to worry about: “Geysers turn on and off all the time to reheat water. They’re built to handle it.”

Keep it off

If you’re at home for the holidays, leave your geyser off altogether and only switch it on for a few hours before you need a shower. For everything else, just boil your trusty kettle. “There are few activities that require more than 1.7 litres of hot water,” says Cohen.

Of course, you don’t need to wait for holidays to use this tip. Although it takes quite a bit of electricity to heat a geyser from cold, you’ll still save money because it’s been shown to cost more to maintain the water temperature over long periods.

Or just switch to gas

Gas geysers have none of the problems electrical models do. They don’t store hot water but rather heat it instantaneously from cold as it enters the tank. When you turn off the tap, they immediately switch off too, so no energy is wasted on constantly reheating water.

Gas geysers have none of the problems electrical models do. They don’t store hot water but rather heat it instantaneously from cold as it enters the tank

Because of this fact, gas geysers are also safer. There’s no hot water to build up pressure inside them, so they can’t blow. And they’re much easier to manage.

You don’t need to disable them when going away or fit a timer to control them, because they’re always dormant when not in use. “Many homeowners turn to gas for convenience,” reports Cohen. “But also for the peace of mind that their house will still be in one piece when they return from vacation.