"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday 2 June 2011


For the past 6 - 9 months we have been switching on our geyser for half an hour in the morning, to warm the water up, and then switching it off again once we have showered.  If I have needed hot washing up water, I have been boiling extra water in the kettle (when I make tea and storing the extra in a flask) on a small two plate gas stove - in fact, between the two plate gas stove and a small (clean / virgin LOL) barbecue, which belongs to RSon, we have not had to switch on our stove at all this winter.  And, if I have any say in it, we won't be using it either.

With these measures we have implemented we have, when compared to last year's electricity figures, been saving roughly 8 - 9 kw / day.  That equates to a cost of approximately ZAR300.00 a month - HALF our electricity account!

What has it cost us?  ZAR169.00 for 9 kgs of LPG which is still going strong after being in use for over 10 weeks!!!!  A financial saving of a minimum of ZAR216.00 / month.  And, eco-saving... less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, less demand on the power supplier, instant cooking heat, and cooking and room heating happening simultaneously.

My two plate gas stove
Do I give a continental what my kitchen looks like - not a sausage!  As long as everything is clean - that's my main concern.  The fact that our bank balance is ZAR300 better off - even better.  And roughly 300kw of grid power not consumed - Whoopee!

RSon's baby barbecue - perfect for baking bread,
roasting Chickens, whatever else I would normally
use an oven for.
AND, through using the two plates and the small barbecue for cooking, they are providing very comfortable warmth to our open plan lounge / dining room / kitchen of an evening.   And trust me - last Monday night we had a rain storm, complete with lightning, thunder and hail, which reduced the outside temperature to 7oC (44.5oF)  But our house was lovely and snug and warm.

Killing two birds with one stone!

But, on Monday we forgot to switch off the geyser once we had finished showering...

... and I only discovered it on Tuesday morning when I went to switch on the geyser.

My Owl electricity monitor showed an electricity consumption of 27.635 kw!  For Monday only!   Considering we have been using, on average 17 - 19 kw /day, that is hectic!

We have also used slightly more electricity this month than last month - probably because the weather is colder.

Last month we used 587.65 kw - an average of 19.58 / day :

The lower figure in the bottom right corner in the
consumption for April
And last month (up to 12 noon on the 31/7/2011), we used 631.79 kw...

Bottom lower right hand corner again
... an average of 21.05 kw / day

I feel terrible that I wasted 9-odd kw of energy - just by forgetting to switch the geyser off!

And, I have to say, I would find it difficult to live without my Owl LOL  Information at a glance - who could ask for more?


  1. Wow, what a difference not leaving your geyser (hot water tank?) on made in electric use. We have been considering adding a timer to our own system so that it is not always on. That little energy information monitor you have is pretty neat...hmm, might have to look into that as well.

  2. Mr H - scary huh! I wonder how much power would be saved, worldwide, if every household switched off their geyser (hot water tank LOL) until 1/2 an hour before they needed it?

  3. It does become fun to find new ways to conserve. I wouldn't worry about that one unfortunate day. It happens to us all. One good thing that came out of it is I bet you will never forget again and check at least twice. That monitor is very handy for keeping track of these things. We have a similar one on the solar system and I watch it like it was a TV. If I plug something in I run over to see how much a draw it is on the system to see if it gets to 'make the cut'.

  4. Jane - LOL - exactly why we bought ours in the first place - we'll need to check on our power consumption all the time on the farm.

  5. Wow, that electricity monitor is pretty nifty. Sounds like in general, you've got a good "system" down for your electric needs and usage. I have to say though, that my in-laws used to switch off their hot water heater until evening, for showers. As an experiment, they left it on for awhile and discovered that it was actually taking more energy to heat the tank than to leave it self-regulating. I'm guessing the difference between them and you is the type of water heating system. Something to consider, something to research.

  6. As it's winter here we use the combustion stove for other things besides heating the house - it cooks the porridge overnight when the fire is damped down, cooks stews in the daytime while on a low burn and toasts bread anytime except when it's just had new firewood placed in it. I've even roasted potatoes/kumara in it on occasion. Along with turning the water heater on for just a couple of hours after lunch, when the sun has heated the water in the rainwater tank, we manage to keep the electricity bill around the same as we have for summer usage.

  7. Love that monitor. That is such a great way to monitor what you're using. I wish I could attach one to each child's room!

  8. When I started living with solar my only sadness was saying goodbye to microwave popcorn..LED lights, heck I can leave them on all night if I wanted to.

  9. Leigh - reckon our tank probably stays warm enough to reheat. We have a 200lt (200gal) tank which three of us use for short showers. If we leave it on then it switches the element on roughly every hour - why waste that power?

    RobynK - sounds like your combustion stove is ideal :-)

    Judy - LOL kids and power... a continuous battle

    Frann - yup - LED is definitely the way to go - and hopefully, as they become more popular their price will come down...hopefully!

  10. I'm not sure exactly on the numbers but with the latest and greatest water heaters turning them on and off isnt exactly energy efficient.....i think the savings come from lowering the temp of the water......for me, Im more concerned about saving / wasting water than i am about saving a buck here and there fussing with the geyser btw, isnt rman a geyser as well?...probably a lot easier to turn on and off too haha

  11. wickets - We lowered our (old) geyser to 50oC over a year ago. That means we don't have to add cold water to bring our shower to the correct temperature LOL So it's not just about saving a "buck here and there" it's also about saving wasted power and unnecessary water consumption.

  12. Hi Dani - Neat to see and hear about your changes and how they work. Also good to read through comments and see what others are doing out there too. I have considered putting a timer on our hot water heater. It is electric and I think it uses a ton of power. I have a little gismo like your OWL. I need to read through the manual and start using it to see what uses what electric in this house and start to make changes. Emily

  13. Emily - little gadgets like the Owl can help save power and morney - and if we all saved power imagine how much less would have to be produced...

  14. We have a fancy/fiddly timer on the geyser. In summer solar power is all we need. In winter it is set to give a little hot water in the morning, and a lot in the evening (shower, dishes, bath ;~)

  15. Elephant's Eye - our "new" house WILL have a solar geyser... :-)


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