Weatherize and Save Energy This Winter

26 04 2010

Weatherization (also commonly known as weatherproofing) can make your home more comfortable while lowering your electricity usage and costs this winter. Follow the eight easy steps below to prepare your home for the coming winter.

1. Perform an energy audit:
An energy audit will help you to find out where you’re wasting energy. It involves analyzing where you use energy and how efficiently you’re using it. Some findings common in energy audits are drafty windows or fireplaces, energy loss due to poor insulation and inefficient appliances. These guides: City of Cape Town, Energy Savers and are good starting points.

2. Insulate:
Keep the warm air in and the cold air out this winter with effective insulation. According to Eskom, “As much as 50% of heat losses in a house can be attributed to a lack of ceilings and ceiling insulation.” (source) As an added bonus – insulation will also help to keep your home cooler in the summer. Check out these recycled insulation providers for more information: Eco Insulation, Isotherm or Thermguard.

3. Weather stripping:
Did you identify drafty windows or doors during your energy audit? Use weather stripping and draft stoppers to combat heat loss. Weather stripping can be done using specific weather stripping materials or with caulk or silicone (DIY instructions). Details on how to make your own draft stopper for windows and doors can be found here.

4. Curtains:
Use the curtains in your home to make the most of the heating power of the sun. Open curtains to allow sun in and then close promptly after the sun has set or moved – trapping more of the most eco friendly, (and free!) heat available. Upgrading to thick curtains (especially on large windows) will increase the efficiency of this tactic.

5. Heaters:
Space or zone heating is an effective and energy efficient way to make your home warmer and more comfortable during the winter. Infrared heaters are a highly efficient method of zone heating because they heat objects instead of the ambient air temperature. This provides a targeted, focused, near-instant heat that can be used as needed and prevents wasting electricity heating unused areas. Eskom calls infrared heating “…more electricity efficient than other space heating systems” (source). For more information on infrared heating, visit

6. Mind Your Geyser:
Water heating can account for 30 – 40% of your home’s total electricity cost (source).  The three tactics below can help you to make a significant dent in your water heating electricity cost and usage.

  1. Geyser timers allow you to program your geyser to turn on and off on a schedule. This prevents your geyser from running constantly without having to sacrifice comfort.
  2. Geyser blankets decrease heat lost when the hot water warms the geyser and surrounding air. Find timers and blankets here.
  3. Replacing your traditional geyser with a solar geyser can be an effective way to reduce your water heating electricity consumption. This is becoming more and more of a financially viable option, due to the rising electricity tariffs and larger Eskom rebates on solar geyser purchases. Interested? Check out Green Power, who offers one of the largest Eskom rebates available.  For more information on Eskom solar rebates, see here.

7. Kettle:
A hot cup of tea, coffee or cocoa is always helpful for beating a winter chill. However, your kettle may be using more electricity that you think. Ensuring that you heat only the amount of water you need helps to save electricity. If you’re in need of a new kettle, check out the Eco Kettle. It allows you to select the number of cups you need and heats only that amount.

8. Monitoring:
To ensure that the above measures are decreasing your electricity use and to escape any surprises on your monthly electricity bill, consider investing in an energy monitor. More information on energy monitors can be found here.  If you use pre-paid electricity, you can skip the monitor altogether – simply record your electricity balance at the same time each day or week to monitor usage.

Have any other helpful tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments!