How to keep yourself in and out of hot water

Photo by Silvan Schuppisser on Unsplash

Geyser costs account for up to 50% of your electricity bill.

Deepak John, managing director at New Southern Energy, says the simplest way to reduce your geyser cost is to switch it on and off each day. However, your savings benefit would depend on how long you actually leave the geyser on before you switch it off. “Typically, you would need your geyser to be off for 20 hours or only on for four hours to see a small saving. The longer you can keep the geyser off, the greater the savings,” he says.

According to Eskom, a 3KW 150 litre geyser takes approximately two hours and 40 minutes to heat your water from 20ºC to 65ºC. Before you start protesting, it’s worth noting that if you switch your geyser off, the temperature of the water typically only drops by 10ºC, over a 24-hour period.

Separating facts from fiction

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to the myths and facts around how best to use your geyser:

Myth: Switching your geyser on and off regularly will damage the thermostat

Fact: The geyser thermostat is designed to switch off and on so it will not be damaged.
Myth: Switching your geyser on and off regularly will cause the geyser to crack.

Fact: The thermal range of a geyser when it remains switched on is greater than the slow cooling rate of a geyser that has been switched off, so switching it on and off will not cause it to crack.

Myth: You should use an automatic timer rather than doing switching the geyser on and off manually as this is less likely to damage the geyser.

Fact: The major difference is that the latter requires manual operation and of course, you must remember to turn the switch on and off. John says a timer simply provides the benefit of always switching the geyser on and off as it is programmed to and manual operation is obviously cheaper. “A standard timer would cost around R 700 for the component and another R 700 for installation,” he says. However, having said that, John adds that using an automatic timer on your geyser reduces the risk of damage to the surge arrestor and other electrical components of your geyser system.

Myth: You should keep your geyser temperature high so that it takes less time to heat up the water.

Fact: Eskom says that a family using 200 litres of water a day and a 150 litre geyser can save as much as 122kWh of energy per month if they drop the thermostat temperature from 70ºC to 60ºC and keep the geyser off from 6am to 9pm (15 hours) each day. A 150litre geyser set at 60ºC and switched off for 15 hours a day uses 238kWh compared to the same size geyser set at 70ºC and left on all day, which would use 360kWh per month.

In fact, just dropping your thermostat temperature setting from 70ºC to 60ºC and keeping your geyser on 24 hours will reduce your electricity usage from 360kWh to 342kWh.

Keeping your geyser in tip-top condition

Old Mutual’s short-term insurance arm, iWyze, notes that geyser claims tend to increase by about 23.05% during the months of May, June and July and offers the following tips for geyser maintenance:

  • Check pipes and valves to and from the geyser are not clogged/ blocked, as this could increase pressure.
  • Check that the thermostat is correctly functioning. 
  • Install a geyser blanket to help insulate the geyser. You can pick up a geyser blanket for between R140 to R360 at Builders Warehouse and according to insulation company Isotherm, a geyser blanket can reduce your electricity costs by 20% while insulating your pipes can drop electricity costs by a further 10%.
  • Ensure you have a drip tray underneath the geyser, which can direct water away to an overflow pipe if the geyser does burst.
  • Have the geyser serviced by a qualified plumber every three years: this means checking the components including the anode, element and thermostat and checking the whole system for possible leaks. Also, a qualified plumber should check that your geyser has all the important safety features such as a shut-off valve, vacuum breakers and a temperature and pressure safety valve.

*This article was first published on Moneyweb.

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