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Survive the heat wave and save electricity

Survive the heat wave and save electricity

Jan 8, 2016

Keeping cool in the heatwave conditions is particularly difficult this summer where water is limited and rain seems like a distant memory. At this time we normally  use fans and air-conditioners to keep cool.

Given the environmental concern globally, one of the key aspects to consider is how to remain energy and water efficient even in these extreme temperatures.

Air-conditioners are one of the appliances that consume the most electricity, and while we acknowledge that air- conditioners cannot be avoided as temperatures continue to rise, below are some of 49M’s electricity smart tips to consider as we try to keep cool:

Dress for the weather

Wear short-sleeved and loose-fitting clothes made from fabrics that breathe and absorb moisture – avoid tight and restrictive clothing and wear sandals whenever possible.

Insulate your home

Fire-retardant ceiling insulation makes a home up to 10°C cooler in summer.

Treat your windows

Install shade awnings on the outside of windows facing the sun – it reduces heat from entering your home. Also, open windows and doors to allow cool breezes to circulate freely.

Befriend your fan

Fans use much less energy than air-conditioners – position one near an open window or door to channel cool, fresh air into your home.

If you decide to switch on your air-conditioner during the hottest mid-day hours:

Set it at a comfortable 23˚C.  Ideally, the difference between inside and outside temperatures should not be more than 10˚C – once on, all windows and doors should be kept closed.

Switch off between 5pm and 9pm

Avoid switching on your air-conditioner between 5pm and 9pm, the period of peak demand for electricity in South Africa.

Other smart actions to consider even if you have an air-conditioner

  • Eat fresh foods that do not require you to cook. If you have to cook consider making quick and easy dishes
  • Open all windows and promote as much air circulation as possible. When the sun rises, close all doors and windows, making sure to close curtains and blinds as well, to keep the indoors cool for as long as possible. When the outside air cools to a lower temperature than inside (usually in the evenings or at night), open up the windows and turn on the fans again.
  • Take cool showers.
  • Head downstairs. Since hot air rises, the upper stories of a home will be warmer than the ground floor. A basement can be a cool refuge from the midday heat.
  • Eliminate extra sources of heat. Incandescent light bulbs can generate unnecessary heat, as can computers or appliances left running
  • Maintain an adequate level of hydration; consume more water than you usually do when it’s hot. Drink sufficient amounts of fluids before you feel thirsty in order to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, as both of these substances can act as diuretics and promote dehydration.
  • For a homemade “air conditioning” system, sit in the path of a box fan that is aimed at an open cooler, or pan filled with ice.
  • If the heat becomes unbearable, try to visit public buildings with air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day. Libraries, shopping malls, and movie theatres can all be good places to cool down.

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