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Clever ways to stay warm this winter

When power was cheap and environmental concerns weren't so pressing, it was easy to feel entitled to use as much electricity as we wanted. Now that things are different, we all have to adjust our mindsets. If you start to view electricity as a precious resource, you'll be surprised at how much you can save.

As our electricity costs are spiralling out of control and the threat of load-shedding is ever present, here are some clever tricks to keep your electricity bill under control and help ease the burden on Eskom's grid to see you through winter.

Tackle your geyser
Most people only bath or shower in the mornings and evenings, so running a geyser for the rest of the day is wasteful. Get a geyser blanket to conserve the heat that's been generated, and install a timer that switches your geyser on about two hours before you're likely to need it. You'll notice an instant change in your electricity bill.

You can also install an efficient showerhead that reduces the amount of water that you use so that, essentially, you're heating less water. 

Insulate your home
We're lucky that we don't have to tape up our windows in winter like they do in Canada, but there's still a lot to be gained by insulating your home. Most of your home's heat is lost through the roof, simply because heat rises. If you install an insulation layer above your ceiling, you'll notice a definite change in the ambient household temperature, and heated rooms will stay warmer for longer. Look online for environmentally friendly insulation solutions. 

Use gas for heating
Of course, gas still costs money, but gas heaters are very efficient and can warm a whole room in a short time, after which you can turn them down or off. The costs are also easier to control than those of electric heaters. Just be sure that you always have an extra gas canister handy, because there's nothing worse than hearing that final splutter when the shops are closed.

Save on your cuppa
Hot tea and coffee are your lifeblood in the winter months, but boiling kettles guzzle electricity. Remember to only ever heat as much water as you need (measure it if you're making one cup of tea, boil one cup of water). And, if you have municipal gas, you can boil a kettle on your stove top.
 
Buy a hot water bottle
As long as your hands, lap or tummy are warm, the rest of your body doesn't feel so cold. Use a hot water bottle (or microwaveable bean bag) as a mobile warmth pouch to keep you feeling cozy one body part at a time. These are particularly useful for slipping between the sheets so you don't have to face the icy chill of cold linen at bed time.

Save on your cuppa
Hot tea and coffee are your lifeblood in the winter months, but boiling kettles guzzle electricity. Remember to only ever heat as much water as you need (measure it if you're making one cup of tea, boil one cup of water). And, if you have municipal gas, you can boil a kettle on your stove top. 

Install panel heaters
Energy-saving wall heaters are a cost-effective solution if you have a small space that you want to keep cozy, like a baby's room or your lounge. The trick is that you turn them on long before you need them, and their low-voltage heating keeps the room warm, relatively cheaply. 

Make load-shedding work for you
Whatever tricks you may have up your sleeve for reducing your power usage, Eskom often plays a winning hand and plunges you into cold, silent darkness. While it's not possible to learn to love load shedding, you can make the most of it. 

Have a black-out kit' tucked away and stock it with necessities and luxuries to get you through the darkness/chilly interlude. Fill it with candles, a lighter, those camping hand and toe warmers, a bottle of your finest whiskey or wine, a slab of chocolate and a packet of nuts or biltong. If you don't have a gas oven in your kitchen, it's a good idea to buy a little camping stove so that you can still heat up soup or tea. Then, on colder nights, when the power goes down, crack open your kit and play a board game or snuggle up with your loved ones by candlelight.

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