By Abiola Olaifa
The world is changing very rapidly in the way it uses energy. People do not use energy like before; it is getting more expensive to put on the light. I am concerned about the way we use our scarcely available energy in Nigeria and wish to point out some of the ways we can be sustainable with the little we have so we can make it last a little longer. In the midst of the overstretched energy crisis in Nigeria, there is urgent need for all Nigerians to embrace energy efficiency. As much as I know that it is human to use as much power as we can, when and if we have the power, it is equally important we are efficient with the use and cut out any excess, which we can do without.
The world is using various energy efficiency measures, which are cheaper, cleaner and faster, and Nigeria needs to wake up to the emerging energy saving trends. These measures will put money back into the pockets and reduce pollution and in effect increase our lifespan. With the current low energy capacity in Nigeria and most of us still using other sources of power majorly Generators; it is important we adopt these energy saving measures.
Your meter measures the amount of electricity you use in kilowatt hours (kWh). A kWh is the same as a unit of electricity and the value of electricity you use is determined by multiplying the number of kWh used by the price per kWh. All household appliances are given power ratings in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).
1kW = 1000 Watts.
The higher this number, the more electricity the appliances use. For example a 2kWh power-rating fridge will use two kWh of electricity in one hour. A 100-Watt light bulb will use 0.1kWh of electricity in an hour or 1 kWh every 10 hours. It is very important for you to understand the rating and consumption of your appliances, once you do, you can concentrate on cutting the use of the ones, which cost you the most.
Ditch fairly-used Appliances
The number one way of reducing our energy usage is to limit the use of fairly-used appliances. These fairly-used appliances are in large use in Nigeria and they consume far more electricity than new products, as much as money is the primary reason people buy used equipments, it does not make financial, economic or health sense. Be aware that any appliance you use that has gone past 5 years of its manufacturing date tends to reduce its efficiency by about 60% and it will cost you 3 times more of its manufacturing power consumption.
Please do not be deceived by the long held belief that ‘Tokunboh’ (fairly-used) products are more efficient. It would rather cost you more, the money you save buying the used appliances are spent powering them, it also does not make economic or health sense, bear in mind that most of those appliances are already scrapped as not fit for consumption from their source country and a lot more finding their way to Africa are purchased from the recycling plants and scrap-yards, while the rest are picked from the dump sites and on the road sides. The dealers are aware that if sent to Africa, it would get a market, please avoid these used equipments as much as you can, do not rush to buy them, save enough before investing in your home appliances.
We can clamour for stable electricity, but we are not helping either by using fairly-used appliances as we would be using treble the power and is one of the reasons our limited energy does not last long enough, when we have it. Even countries of the world with more generating capacity avoid fairly-used appliances, so as to reduce cost. Most of these equipments are also very risky for our health, emitting dangerous volatile substance as they get older. Note that most of them were scrapped from the source country for a reason.
Check the Labels
When buying your new equipments, watch out for energy efficiency label, please do not ignore the label, this rates how efficient the appliance is on a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). It is important to buy the most efficient appliances. Ensure to check this label before buying the appliances.
There are a few handy tips for energy efficiency that should be adhered to at all times;
Fridge or Freezers
– Don’t put your fridge or freezer next to a cooker or in direct sunlight. Make sure air can circulate around the back.
– Don’t leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to.
– Never put hot food in a fridge or freezer. Let it cool first.
– Stock up your freezer. It works most efficient when it’s tightly packed, so fill any space with cardboard, bottles of water etc.
– Defrost your fridge or freezer regularly and check for gaps in door seals that could let air in the door.
Lighten your Lighting Bill.
Lighting probably accounts for around 20% to 25% of your electricity use. Using energy saving light bulbs is the bet way to cut your lighting bills. Every energy saving bulb you use could save you N625.00 per year. It’s worth starting to replace your bulbs now as inefficient light bulbs are being phased out. Also follow the following tips.
– Turn off the lights you don’t need, but leave enough lighting on for stairs and hallways.
– Open curtains and blinds during the day to let in natural lights
– Avoid leaving halogen spotlights on for a long time, they are the most expensive type of lighting.
– Fluorescent tubes are an efficient form of lighting; they are also the best for the kitchens.
– Use light coloured lampshades – they will emit most lights.
– Turn off the security light during the day.
– Fit timers and automatic sensors to lights, especially outside lightings.
Cut the cost of Cooking
– When cooking vegetables, use just enough water to cover the food. Always put a lid on your pan.
– Always use the right size of pan for your cooking ring.
– Cut food into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking time.
– Avoid repeatedly opening the oven door while you are cooking or baking.
– Your microwave uses a lot less energy than your oven. Some fresh food can be cooked in the microwave in a fraction of time and for a fraction of the cost.
– Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need, but make sure you cover the element if you use an electric kettle.
– Defrost food in the fridge overnight rather than using the microwave.
Launder for Less
– Always put a full load of washing into your washing machine or tumble dryer.
– Save energy by washing at lower temperatures. Washing at 30°C can save around 40%.
– Always dry your washing outside if the weather is right.
– If you use a tumble dryer, spin your clothes first. They’ll dry in the tumble dryer more quickly.
– Plan your ironing so you don’t have to keep changing the temperature. Start with clothes that need a cooler setting. Finish with clothes that need the hottest setting.
Standby for more Savings
Avoid leaving any electrical items on standby, i.e. do not use your Microwave as the clock. Are you aware that some household electrical appliances switched to standby use up to 90% of the energy they use when switched on? In some households, leaving items such as TVs, DVD players and hi-fis on standby is the equivalent of leaving a 100W light bulb on all year round. So turn off all appliances from the wall socket when not in use to save power and money. These are some of our options if we want to increase our power holding capacity.