Doing all that you can to conserve energy

Cutting your energy bill by 60% at home is no mean feat.  This was however achieved by Russell Attenbourgh who lives in a small seaside village just outside of East London in

Russell Attenbourgh

the Eastern Cape.  His efforts have paid off with a runner-up prize in the Energy Savings in Households category of the 2011 Eskom eta Awards.

When challenged by load-shedding in 2008, Russell started with two solar panels, an inverter and battery to run his home-office equipment off the grid and learned so much about the energy consumption of his computer equipment, especially how much they were using when idle, that it inspired him to go through the household and measure the power consumption and running times of all the appliances in the house, from the stove to the cordless phone.

After doing this he captured all of the information on various spreadsheets which showed him which appliances were the largest power users.  From there he tackled each one from largest to smallest consumer, using a clamp meter to measure their electricity load.

His intensive monitoring has highlighted and mitigated unnecessary ghost loads from appliances left on standby, helping to reduce this from 1 440 watts per day down to 540 watts.  Russell’s project has progressed from switching his geyser off during the day and lights when not in use to a full solar hot water system, low energy LED lighting through-out the house, changing the way they cook and, most recently a wind turbine, which he hopes to have completed by the end of October 2011.

“At present I have reduced my energy bill by 60% and, when the wind turbine is in full operation, it will reduce even further to 75%.  Probably more because we get lots of wind at the sea!  I’m considering a decent solar panel to compliment the wind turbine on calm days, but I will wait and see if it is necessary first, to run the refrigerator, lights and television.

“My wife and I have changed the way we cook, as in using a slow cooker for stews, steamer for vegetables, grilling meat while roasting vegetables in the oven at the same time.  My wife is also fully committed and she used her overtime money and bonuses to purchase the solar hot water system for our home.

A long-term dream would be to do an electric conversion to a motor vehicle and charge the batteries off wind and solar,” adds Russell.