Four ways to keep warm without electricity this winter
South Africans are in a pickle, faced with a dilemma that seems to have no immediate solution. On the one hand, we’re being asked to pay a hiked electricity tariff and on the other, we’re being asked not to use the electricity for which we’re paying. Huh?
With winter in full swing and the grid under pressure, seems like a good time to make a few changes around the home to the way we view energy. And taking the view that creature comforts such as air conditioners, element heaters, underfloor heating and electric blankets are non-essential items is a good start.
So how do we keep warm this winter without draining electricity supply or racking up exorbitantly expensive bills?
- Go gas – Gas appliances are the first port of call. From stoves to heaters, having appliances that don’t rely on electricity is a good investment. These appliances help keep everyday life going without interruption. Element heaters are high voltage appliances which drain power and incur high costs. The initial cost of purchasing a gas heater easily justify the money it will save you in the long run. Traditional element heaters have a restricted range of a small area close to a power source, while gas heaters are portable which means you can easily heat up your home by moving it around. Cooking with gas instead of an electric stove is also a great way to save on energy costs. It heats up faster and you can continue to cook even when loadshedding kicks in.
- A good old fire – If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, this will serve you well. A well-positioned fireplace can heat up an entire home for the cost of a few blocks of wood and a match. A fire is a source of warmth as well as a means of cooking if electricity is in short supply. So have a braai for dinner and keep warm around the coals at the same time; a very South African pastime.
- Layer – Keeping warm without electricity is easier said than done, but here’s a way to keep warm without really having additional cost implications; layer your clothing and bedding. The air trapped between the layers will retain body heat and keep you warm for longer.
- Swop out – There’s nothing worse than an ice cold bed when it’s time to hit the hay. Electric blankets have become common place in households and have been spoiling us for years. But when we need to approach our heating methods with a little more caution, perhaps it’s time to whip out the old faithful hot water bottle that will keep your bed toasty for the cost of boiling a kettle. You could also swop out the old-school hot water bottle for a modern electrical one, for which the cost of heating will still be marginal when compared to running an electric blanket throughout the night.
It is important to acknowledge that non-electrical appliances carry their own hazards, which could impact your safety as well as your home and property should they be used incorrectly or in the event of an accident.
Make sure you keep a flow of air throughout your house when using gas heaters, the fumes can be toxic without proper ventilation.
Be diligent when using fireplaces. Make sure your fireplace adheres to the correct installation and extraction requirements. Call your insurer and make certain your fireplace is noted on your home and contents insurance policies.
A spark from a hot coal could ignite flammable fabrics and other materials close by, so keep a fire extinguisher in a central place in case of emergency.
Solutions to our country’s electricity crisis might be a heated dilemma, but as South African citizens, we’re all faced with the obligation to find alternative means to keep life moving forward and doing so responsibly.