Last updated on Jun 8th, 2015 at 09:02 am

With winter here and temperatures getting lower, we are reminded of the ‘cold realities’ of the current cost of power. Not to mention load shedding.

However, there are practical ways to keeping warm and enjoy winter without breaking the bank. According to Wikus Olivier, debt management expert at DebtSafe, there are a variety of options available to individuals who want to warm up, and save up:

Gearing your geyser

Whenever there’s a talk, blog or list about saving energy you can bet your favourite winter jammies that the geyser will feature as one of the biggest culprits. That’s because your geyser makes up between 30% and 50% of your household’s electricity bill. So naturally we need ways to keep our geysers’ electricity usage to a minimum. Here’s how:

  • Solar geysers. Most South Africans live in sunny parts, so why not opt to use the sun instead of Eskom?
  • Geyser blankets. This additional layer of insulation is wrapped around your geyser and prevents heat loss through the steel casing.
  • Geyser timers. A timer means your geyser only uses electricity during selected times instead of all the time.
  • Heat pumps. Replace your geyser with a heat pump that uses up to three times less energy than a conventional geyser.
  • Energy saving shower heads. The low flow shower head reduces the flow rate, which reduces water and electricity use.

Light up and save up

Another item you’ll always find when searching for ways to reduce electricity costs is light bulbs.

Switching to energy efficient light bulbs may be costly, but in the long run it will make a huge difference on your electricity bill. CFL bulbs reduce power consumption by up to 75% and last eight times longer, while LED bulbs are even more efficient than CFL bulbs and last up to 100 times longer than standard light bulbs.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Home sweet, warm and cost efficient, home

It’s safe to say that you and your family will be spending time in your home during winter. Making it necessary to find ways in which you can keep the heat up while keeping the costs down.

Here are some simple, and creative, ways to do just that:

  • Rugs, socks and slippers. You will be surprised how much warmer you will feel when you keep your feet warm. Plus, keep blankets in your living spaces to keep warm instead of using costly electricity to warm up the whole room.
  • If you’re looking for room heaters which use minimum electricity opt for panel heaters or oil heaters. If you are looking to use no electricity then we suggest using gas heaters.
  • The sun. During the day make sure the sun gets into your home. Plus, if you are feeling chilly during the day go for a walk outside in the sun. In 10 minutes you will be warmed up completely and have generated some valuable vitamin D.
  • Thermal insulation. A popular option is to get ceiling insulation, which prevents the heat from escaping during the winter, and keeps the cool air from escaping during summer. Very nifty.
  • Also, check where your house is leaking heat. For example, if there’s a window or door leading outside that doesn’t close properly, fix it. Even a quick fix like duct tape will work just fine until you can save enough cash to replace the door or window.

“Before spending money on any home improvements for heating, consider how you will be paying for it. Will you buy the items in cash? If so, is it cash that you have saved for this purpose or will you fall short the next month? If it turns out that you don’t have enough cash to go full out, simply divide your home improvements into phases by prioritising which spaces in your home needs heat,” says Olivier.

“If you use credit, whether it’s a credit card or loan, plan how you will go about paying it back. Do you have the budget for the repayments, and do you know what you will be paying for interest and admin fees? Always bear in mind, a R500 heater could cost you R700 when bought on credit,” concludes Olivier.