The simplest way to reduce your geyser cost is to switch it on and off each day, but the savings benefit will depend on how long you leave it on before switching it off.
“Typically, a geyser would need to be off for 20 hours or on for only four hours to see a small saving,” says New Southern Energy MD Deepak John. “The longer you can keep the geyser off, the greater the savings.”
According to Eskom, a three kilowatt (KW) 150-litre geyser takes less than three hours to heat 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 fact from fiction
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to how best to use your geyser.
Myth: Switching your geyser on and off regularly will damage the thermostat. Fact: The geyser thermostat is actually designed to switch on and off, 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 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 you have to 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 do so, but this comes with a fee. “A standard timer would cost around R 700 for the component and another R 700 for installation,” he says, adding that using an automatic timer reduces the risk of damage to the surge arrestor and other electrical components.
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 122 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a month if they drop the thermostat temperature from 70ºC to 60ºC and keep the geyser off from 6am to 9pm (15 hours) each day. In fact, just dropping the temperature setting from 70ºC to 60ºC and keeping the geyser on for 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% in the winter months (May, June and July in South Africa), and offers the following tips for geyser maintenance:
- Check to ensure that pipes and valves to and from the geyser are not clogged or blocked as this could increase pressure.
- Check that the thermostat is functioning correctly.
- Install a geyser blanket to help insulate the geyser. These are available for between R140 to R360 at Builders Warehouse and, according to insulation company Isotherm, can reduce electricity costs by 20% while insulating your pipes (as well as the geyser) can cut electricity costs by a further 10%.
- Ensure that 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 involves checking the components including the anode, element and thermostat, as well as the whole system for possible leaks. A qualified plumber should also 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.