South Africa is facing rising energy costs and a future of unstable energy supply; this has led to numerous initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption, such as Eskom’s 49m campaign. The 49m campaign aims to inspire all 49 million South Africans to save electricity by making small behavioural changes.

The 49m campaign illustrates ten pledges that would save electricity:

  1. Turn off your heater: Warm up through exercise
  2. Turn off you heater: Play with your pets
  3. Defrost your fridge regularly
  4. Save water
  5. Watch less television
  6. Clean your oven windows to see inside without losing heat
  7. Turn off unnecessary lights
  8. Turn the thermostat down
  9. Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need
  10. Switch off appliances that are on standby

All ten pledges involve small individual changes in behaviour, which collectively across South Africa will make a significant difference in energy consumption.

One of the easiest ways to save electricity (as seen in pledge number ten) is to turn off appliances you aren’t using. When appliances are on standby they are consuming energy, this phenomenon is termed vampire power. Recognizing energy vampires and reducing their power consumption is an obvious energy saving technique that anyone can easily carry out; not only to save energy but also as a personal cost-saving habit.

A simple step to take towards greening your home is to become aware of the top energy vampire offenders and unplug them when they are not in use. Almost all appliances draw energy while on standby; in order to detect energy vampires we need to know where the primary culprits lie. The main offenders are:

  • All appliances that are turned on via a wireless remote control; when on standby these appliances are continuously drawing energy in order to power the receiver that senses the remote control.
  • All appliances that have a digital clock face. This may include microwaves or sound systems that constantly draw energy to power the digital display.
  • Mobile phone chargers; when plugged into the wall socket cell phones chargers draw power even when they are not charging a mobile phone.

The following are examples of a few easy ways to reduce the energy vampires in your home:

  • The first and most obvious way to reduce the costs of vampire power in your home is to turn off appliances at the wall socket. If no power is able to reach the appliance it is not unnecessarily drawing energy.
  • Turn off appliances using their on/off button and not using the remote control.
  • Close the microwave door; if the door is open then the light is on and consuming energy.
  • Reduce your energy demand; the fewer appliances you have the less power they can draw.
  • Unplug your mobile phone charger when not in use.
  • Plugging numerous appliances onto one strip provides an easy solution for switching off multiple appliances at once.
  • Smart strips are an effective product that sense when appliances are not in use and automatically turn off plug loads.
  • For televisions or computers and their accessories, a smart strip monitors the power of the primary appliance and when not in use turns off all accessories. For example, you don’t need your printer on when your computer is not in use.

It only takes a few behavioural changes around the home to decrease energy consumption and save on electricity bills. Following the ten pledges is an easy way for anyone to begin energy saving habits that reduce costs.