For many of us, conserving the environment only applies to the green environment as opposed to the built one. We go out of our way to plant trees, observe proper garbage disposal and even reduce use of single-use plastic materials, but somehow forget to apply these same considerations in our own homes. According to the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), most Kenyans rely on non-renewable energy, mainly charcoal and firewood (69%), petroleum (22%) and electricity (9%). Apart from being pollutants, non-renewable sources of energy are cost- inefficient as opposed to renewable sources. We thus stand to gain a lot by adopting environmentally friendlier sources of energy. Even if protecting the environment is not your foremost concern as a homeowner, you certainly care about reducing your utility costs, right? By taking a few easy steps, you could cut your utility bills by up to 60%. How’s that for an incentive? So, here are a few suggestions to make your home more energy efficient. For most households in Kenya, supplementing
conventional sources of energy with solar energy is a viable option. Solar energy is free and abundant in most areas, and may even be the main source of energy for areas not connected to the electricity grid. Experts estimate that using solar
panels to power routine household activities like water heating and lighting could cut the average energy spend by two thirds. Two whole thirds! Considering that sunshine is free, one only needs to incur the initial set-up costs and routine maintenance costs, making solar energy one of the most cost efficient energy sources around. If saving the world is not your thing, then these cost savings should surely be incentive enough.
1. Supplement with solar
At first glance, energy saving appliances look a lot more expensive than regular ones. However, when you factor in how much more you have to pay in utilities, ordinary electronics instantly become less appealing. Normal bulbs, for example,
consume an inordinate amount of electricity and need to be replaced quite often. On the other hand, light emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use up to 80% less electricity and last much longer. Furthermore,
normal incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat too, so you may find yourself switching on a fan or the air conditioning to cool the room, incurring further costs. Energy saving appliances are therefore a worthy investment. Look out for an
Energy Star™ symbol, a US government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, on products you want to buy.
3. Use the recommended settings for appliances
If you went out and bought Energy Star products, you probably paid a premium for them. However, even if an appliance is optimized to save energy, non- adherence to the manufacturer’s recommendations reduce their efficiency. You might as well have gone with the cheaper, more inefficient model. For example, did you know that refrigerators consume more power when not sufficiently stocked? Or that turning your AirCon to “very cold” will not cool the room any faster, but will consume more power? Always read and understand your devices’ manuals and use them according to the instructions therein. That way, your product will last longer, and more importantly, live up to the promise which made you buy it in the first place
4. Change your habits
Some of the things we do inadvertently affect our household energy consumption. A few behavioural changes could save you thousands in annual utility bills, in addition to being great for the environment. Turning off the lights during the day is a great example. Make the most of natural light when it is available to you. Additionally, power off devices when they are not in use instead of leaving them on standby mode. You could also open your windows on a day with good weather to take advantage of the breeze instead of using an electric fan or air conditioning. Taking shorter showers leads to a noticeable decrease in monthly electricity bills. If you have a dishwasher or laundry machine, how about air drying them instead of using the in-built dryer feature? These steps seem trivial, but will more often than not leave you pleasantly surprised with their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Having an energy efficient residence has many benefits.
Aside from the positive impact on the environment, it reduces costs considerably. Now, who wouldn’t enjoy paying less for utilities once in a while? Energy efficiency also increases property value and enhances quality of life through pollution reduction. Therefore, we should always strive to attain optimum use of renewable energy in order to reap the numerous
benefits that come with it.
By Brian Kimwatan | Research Analyst, Cytonn Investments