Things you can do

Invest anywhere from 20 minutes to R20 000. The more you put in, the more you get out.



They tackled their geyser use from all sides because it was the biggest user of electricity in their home.


As one of the first ‘no cost’ steps, Lutho climbed into the roof space, where he found the geyser thermostat set to an unnecessarily high 70 degrees. With the power to the geyser switched off at the DB board, he turned that down to 60, instantly cutting the geyser’s electricity usage by about 20 percent. The family also started taking shorter showers and smaller baths, as a change in habits.


Then came the retrofit. The main house has a sunny, north-facing roof, so a Solartech solar water heater now serves the bathrooms and kitchen. A separate cottage and laundry building was fully shaded, so a heat pump from Alliance was installed for more efficient water heating there. These geysers are well insulated with materials provided in a kit from Saint-Gobain, and Geyserwise and Homebug devices control the geysers timing and temperature setting, for added savings and convenience.


The HansGrohe low-flow shower heads installed reduce the amount of water and electricity needed for showering, and can pay for themselves in a matter of months. So they’re using less water now, and then the shower water they do use is recycled for the garden through the grey water system from Water Rhapsody. The AquaTrip device detects any water leaks and automatically shuts off water supply to protect against damage and high water costs.


Watch the ‘webisode’ to see how they did it.

What about you?

Below are some ideas of things you can do. If you have more ideas, join the conversation and share!

  • No cost

    Change habits to save at least 10%
  • Low cost

    Spend under R1000 to lift savings to about 30%
  • Invest to save

    Invest more to take savings up to 50% or more
  • Turn your geyser down to 55° - 60°

    Most electric geysers are set to a scalding 65° or higher. Every 5 degree drop in the thermostat setting saves about 10% on water heating, improves the cylinder’s lifespan – and protects your family from burns. (Stop at 55° degrees to prevent breeding bacteria.) Ready? Switch off the electricity first at the DB board, and take a torch, screwdrivers and a child. Kids love attics. (See: How to adjust your geyser temperature.)

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  • Take a shorter shower...

    … not a bigger bath. A two-minute shower uses as little as 16 litres of hot water, consuming just a fraction of the water and energy needed for a bath. For a four-person family that could save a few thousand rands of electricity and water a year. And showers are considered more hygienic.

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  • Switch off the geyser when you go away

    If you are going to be away from home for a few days, a flick of the wrist at the DB board is one of the easiest ways to save.  The element heats up a few times daily if you leave it on. When you get back, give the geyser a couple of hours to heat up again. With a geyser timer you can also automatically switch off for periods of the day, especially during Eskom’s peak hours.

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  • Install a low-flow shower head

    Your shower may be so wasteful that it’s actually illegal. Some municipalities ban shower heads that use more than 10 litres of water per minute. To check yours, do the “Bucket Test.” Hold a bucket under the shower spray for 12 seconds and see if you collect more than 2 litres. Replacing an inefficient shower rose with a low-flow version could save you hundreds of rands a year. Modern low-flows are aerated, so you feel a blast of water, not a trickle. And replacing a shower rose is surprisingly easy. This YouTube video shows you how.

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  • Connect a timer to your geyser

    A programmable timer can help your budget and the nation, by keeping your geyser off during certain periods like Eskom’s peak hours of 5 to 9 pm. Timers are essential for solar geysers. Prices start at around R350 plus electrician, but consider paying for a Geyserwise, for thermostat control without having to climb into the roof to adjust the temperature on the geyser.

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  • Keep your geyser and its pipes snugly insulated

    Give your geyser a hand; place your palm on top of the cylinder and on adjacent pipes. If you feel heat, it’s being wasted and you paid for it. Buy a geyser blanket and insulation for the first few meters of outlet pipe from one of Eskom’s approved suppliers. Blankets cost about R200 – R400; and pipe insulation usually less than R100.

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  • Install a solar water heater

    The question is not “can I afford solar?” It’s “can I afford to keep paying 40 to 60 percent of my electricity bill for a job the sun can do very well for most of the year?” If the cash is not at hand, talk to your bank about using your access bond or a loan.  For a family of four or more, the savings should cover the investment in  about 4 to 6 years. The process of choosing an installer and panels may seem daunting, but fear not. See the Step-by-step guide to going solar. You can wait for your existing geyser to burst, but start preparing now to accelerate the process on that fateful day.

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  • Or a heat pump water heater

    No north-facing roof? No good, direct sunshine? No problem. Heat pump water heaters are the perfect Plan B. They work like an air conditioner in reverse gear, and use less than half the electricity of a normal geyser. They cost more or less the same as a solar system and can also pay for themselves in a few years. But bear in mind that a heat pump needs annual maintenance, doesn’t last as long as most solar panels and makes some noise.

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Resources to help you understand and measure your consumption.

Sponsored Products

Products used in the Ngewana green home makeover. Please note that this is not a product endorsement.

  • Solartech 300L indirect solar geyser
    This solar geyser is fitted with back up electric element to provide hot water even in bad weather.
  • Heat Pump from Alliance
    Save's 2/3rds of your water heating costs every day. Heats - day/night, rain or shine.
  • Geyser insulation kit from Saint-Gobain
    Isover insulation pack reduces geyser heat losses with a foil-faced glasswool blanket and snap-on pipe insulation.
  • Electronic Thermostat from Geyserwise
    Geyserwise provides programmable control of geyser on/off times and thermostat.
  • Homebug Pro electricity monitor from Homebug
    Monitor your electricity meter and reports power usage to a web-based platform every minute, 24/7.
  • Basic set for shower mixer from Hansgrohe
    This is the concealed unit that the hot and cold water mixes in behind the wall to create the perfect pressure and temperature for your shower.
  • EcoSmart overhead shower from Hansgrohe
    Croma 100 Vario EcoSmart Shower head of 100mm with flow rate of 9 litres per minute in chrome finish.
  • Decor 70 single lever basin mixer by Hansgrohe
    Single lever basin mixer in chrome finish with aerator - 5 litres per minute
  • Decor shower mixer from Hansgrohe
    The face of the shower mixer in a chrome finish with an elegant handle.
  • Decor single lever kitchen mixer from Hansgrohe
    Square kitchen mixer with swivel spout in a chrome finish with aerater.
  • Thermostatic shower mixer from Hansgrohe
    Preset water temperature that saves even more water than our normal mixers/ prevents scolding.