With winter arriving, it’s important to not leave your finances out in the cold. Utilities, mainly comprising water and electricity, make up a significant portion of many South African’s budgets.

In winter, the increased usage of utilities paired with large tariff hikes on electricity and water might make balancing the budget even more difficult this year. Furthermore, with many of us set to continue working from home during the winter months, the effective use of your utilities has never been more important. By making simple tweaks to the way you use utilities, you can lower your monthly bills.

There’s nothing better than being in a warm home when it’s raining and cold outside. However, heating your home isn’t cheap, which makes it a great place to start when trying to save money. Windows and doors need to be well sealed so that the heat produced by heating appliances isn’t being wasted. If you have a heater with a thermostat, setting it back a couple of degrees when you aren’t at home is recommended.

Turning heating appliances off at night and relying on a warm blanket for warmth will be an effective cost-saving alternative. Interestingly, drawing your curtains when the sun isn’t shining can thermally insulate your house.

Top kitchen tip: after you’ve finished using your oven, leave the oven door open to put the excess heat to good use.

Heating water requires large amounts of electricity. Solar panels are great for the environment but are less useful in the winter months with there being less sunshine. We all know how much water a shorter shower can save from “Day Zero,” but it’s also important to think of the amount of energy a shorter shower can save. It’s also important to have a water-efficient showerhead installed.

Switching your geyser on and off depending on when you use it or adjusting the temperature at different times of the day can also lead to sizable savings. You can also automate this process by having a heat pump installed. This will ensure your geyser operates automatically only for a few hours per day.

Power and light
Replacing light bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs, installing dimmer switches and managing utility usage with a smart power meter will result in sizeable savings in the long run. 

Working from home this winter?
It’s important to take note of the effect which working from home this winter will have on your water and electricity usage. Many activities like going to the bathroom, making coffees, opening the fridge more often and leaving lights on will all be at your own expense.

Interesting tip: Your pressure in your tires reduces when it’s cold so make sure they’re correctly pumped if the coming weeks’ weather is going to be cold. This will aid in reducing petrol expenses.

Putting these tips into use can reduce the impact in which the winter months will have on your utility bills. Keeping track of these expenses through the use of a budget is key. This will aid you in seeing the real impact when it comes to your winter utility bills.

Ross Reid

Written by .

Ross has joined the 22seven team as a Slice and Blog writer. He's a keen financial writer who enjoys demystifying the world of finance. Ross is currently pursuing the CFA designation and has a background in Real Estate finance and investment. In his spare time, he can usually be found reading, running or on the football field.
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