turning off the geyser

Can I Save Energy by Turning off the Geyser?

Excess energy consumption is an active issue of this era where millions are living without access to electricity. Our responsibility as privileged civilians is to conserve as much energy as possible. Among the many household appliances is a geyser. Many people ask the question “can i save energy by turning off the geyser”.

Now a geyser running all day is basically like a giant kettle that is warming up your water. Many say that turning it off when not in use can help save energy. If that is a myth or true, we will find out today and then the debate can be put to rest.

Your geyser is filled with water and it requires electricity to heat it. Here is the debate: when it is turned on, the already heated water will remain heated at high temperatures and requires none or little heating from the element. Once the hot water has been used and the geyser has been refilled with cold water, the elements consumes energy to heat it. When turning off the geyser after heating the water once, the water goes cold. So the element will consume more energy to re-heat the entire volume of water.

Different sides of the story – Both have valid arguments

If you think about it, the consumption of energy is pretty equal in both cases. When you choose to switch it off, then it requires high levels of energy to re-heat the water. If you let it run, then it consumes less energy but an increased amount of time. Your geyser makes up for 40% of your energy bills which is a shocking amount. Reducing the usage of the water heater will save you money as well as save energy.

If you want to determine which case will help save electricity, then you need to dig in deeper. These days, they are being remodelled to heat water faster but that would mean using much higher levels of energy. Although these geysers can maintain the high temperature of the heated water without using too much electricity.

Energy efficient geysers in South Africa

There are a lot more energy efficient models being manufactured which will be more eco-friendly as well as budget-friendly. However, there are other factors that weight in on your geyser usage and energy consumption and they are as follows:

  • Model of the geyser
  • Maintenance
  • Volume of water used
  • Frequency of usage
  • Insulation

As per research and Eskom’s Geyser Fact Sheet, turning off the geyser doesn’t make any difference to the levels of energy usage. The heat loss after 24 hours of turning off the geyser amounts up to 10°C (called ‘standing loss’). The SABS has set this amount as quality standard. If you use this water without re-heating it, then yes, you have saved energy. But if you repeat the heating process then turning off your geyser to save energy was a waste.

The other way round i.e. keeping it switched on day in and day out, doesn’t help save any energy either. What you can do is switch it off for a longer period of time say if you are going out of town or do not require hot water for a while.

Saving electricity with the geyser

So that matter is settled but with no solution. If you have your heart set on saving energy, then here is what you can do. You can insulate your geyser and the pipes with isotherm thermal insulation to prevent any heat loss. Believe it or not, but this heat loss accounts for significant energy loss. Use a quality thermal blanket. Insulate your geyser and let it run constantly. It will reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain high temperature of the water.

According to research, an insulated geyser that has been switched off for 24 hours saves 20% energy while reheating the water.

Correct thermostat settings before off turning off the geyser

The optimum temperature should be 60°C. The higher the temperature the more energy it will require. Also, install it closer to the bathroom since it reduces the heat loss from the water when it sits in the pipes.

Use cold water instead

Yes, it is possible to do some washing duties using cold water. Dishes, laundry and hand-washing can all be done with cold water. Decreasing the temperature settings on the dishwasher and washing machine also helps. Replace your shower head with a water-and-energy-saving shower instead. It helps save up to 24% of water and energy.

Solar power

The ultimate solution. Solar powered water heaters costs a lot of money but are cheaper in the long run. Also, they are very environmentally friendly. If you want to save electricity from water heater usage, then make sure your geyser is in good condition. Responsible usage is what matters here, not turning off the geyser or letting it run. Read more on green building in South Africa.