Every bill has been rising in price sharply: water, electricity, you name it. If you want to reach the month in surplus cutting back on energy and water costs may be the way to go. The below tips will help ensure you don’t have to borrow money from friends before the month is over.
Don’t leave your gadgets on standby.
People that don’t switch their TVs off properly waste a lot of energy. This also applies to all other gadgets that are left on or on standby when not in use: games consoles, microwaves, radios, DVDs and computers.
When my TV is not on, it is actually “off,” not on standby. This means that to switch it on, you have to actually get up; you can’t just use the on button on the remote control. Too much like hard work for the lazy but great for your waistline!
When you bring in the “no standby” rule, you’ll have to enforce it very rigorously to begin with. Leaving items on standby is a hard habit to kick. I make sure guests follow this rule too!
The only item that doesn’t go on standby is our satellite box. It takes ages to come back on, so we don’t think it’s worth it.
Know the gadgets that consume a lot of energy
At the top of this list you’ll find power showers, vacuum cleaners and kettles and for the fortunate few, washing machines and tumble dryers.
We stopped using our power shower the moment we saw how much energy it was chewing up! The power shower alone was costing about Mwk17,000 per month or Mwk200,000 a year to run.
Fortunately, we had two showers in the house and we could enact this immediately. The savings were huge. We allowed guests to use the power shower if they wanted, but we didn’t use it ourselves and ultimately uninstalled it.
Other energy saving tips:
Each light bulb in your house uses very little energy, but cumulatively, bulbs can account for up to 20% of energy used. Get into the habit of switching lights off when the room is not in use. Get your kids into switching lights off at a young age. You can make it into a little game.
After dinner, play “turn the lights off”; the kid who switches the most lights off wins.
I don’t recommend giving prizes for it, though — winning should be enough! You could also get low-energy light bulbs. They cost more but last much, much longer — up to 15 years!
Switch your water geyser on when it needs to be and off when it doesn’t. My parents got an automatic timer for the geyser to save on wastage and also because that means no one has to wake up early to switch it on.
When you’re cooking, use the lid on the pot to cook food faster. This way more energy goes into cooking the food and less escapes into the air.
Don’t defrost meat in the microwave. It’s a massive waste of energy. My tips on defrosting are in the money saving article on water (next week).
Turn off the heater and throw on an extra blanket. June is gone now but if you switched heaters on during our “winter” you were burning lots of cash. It’s cheaper for you to just use a blanket or to just put a sweater on. Come on, girls, it’s not that cold. Even in June I usually wear short sleeved tops.
These are just a few suggestions for you; there are many more things you can think of yourself. For every gadget you plug in, think about how you can save money.
“Keep the future bright; turn off the light.” Anon.
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.
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On Managing Money