Monday, 24 October 2011

Geyser Efficiency – blankets, pipe insulation and timers can result in lower electricity bills

Some of us more cash strapped individuals know where the geyser switch is so that we can turn it on and off during the day. But this supposedly clever idea can turn out to be rather frustrating when we forget to turn the geyser back on, which results in a cold shower and a miserable individual.

Geysers supply us with hot water for daily chores and tasks that include washing dishes, our hands and ourselves. The way in which a geyser functions is relatively simple. The geyser consists of an electrical element that heats up when the geyser is on. This electrical element then heats the water up within the geyser, therefore supplying us with hot water for our home.

An electrical or gas geyser consists of a thermostat that measures the temperature of the water and this thermostat will switch the electrical element off when the hot water reaches a certain temperature. When the temperature drops and the water becomes too cool, the heating element will be turned back on in order to heat the water up again. As the water cools, the heat radiates out of the geysers through the tank and the pipes and this is where the loss of heat occurs, heat which could have been used. Solar geysers function differently as the water is pumped into solar panels in order to warm the water and then stored in a geyser.

Both of these geyser systems lose heat though the geyser itself as well as the piping that leads out of the geyser. Geysers consist of copper piping and many may not know this but copper loses a considerable amount of heat. Geysers can lose from 40 – 50% of their heat from the geyser as well as the direct piping and this could increase your total electricity consumption by 15%. If you wish to decrease this amount, obtain geyser efficiency and see a significant difference in your electricity amount, then installing a geyser blanket, pipe insulation and a geyser timer will altogether decrease the amount of heat and energy lost by your geyser, resulting in more responsible consumption.

A geyser blanket can be added as an additional layer of insulation for your geyser. When wrapped around the geyser, it insulates and keeps in a certain amount of excess heat that is released when the geyser is warm. The blanket is commonly made of glass polyester fibre insulation and most of the time also consists of reflective foil. There are various levels of blanket thickness that you can purchase for your geyser and this can normally range anywhere from 50mm (approximately the length of a matchbox) to 150mm for super insulation. The thicker the blanket, the more effective the insulation will be. Geyser water temperature is said to drop by 1 degree every hour, so preserving the heat within your geyser will result in a lower energy bill.

Geyser heat is not only released from the geyser itself, but also from the piping, especially the pipes that lead directly out from the geyser. Statistics have shown that around 50% of the heat loss occurs in the first 4 metres of the pipe. There are various types of geyser pipe insulation and it is recommended that you insulate all of the pipes running from your geyser to avoid excessive heat loss.

Finally, one can also install a geyser timer which will allow you to control when your geyser will be on and off. Many of these geyser timers can be automated and can store time schedules for the entire week. Geyser timers are a great addition to your geyser insulation as many of us bath and shower in the morning or the evening which results in the geyser being on unnecessarily during the day or in the middle of the night. All of these additions can result in you being able to lower the temperature of your geyser to 50°C in summer and 60°C in winter.

Insulating your geyser with a blanket, installing pipe insulation and fitting your system with a timer will make a significant difference to your electricity bill as well as improve efficiency, all while reducing your carbon footprint. The price of geyser blankets are approximately R260, piping can start from R12 a metre and a timer will set you back about R450. In conclusion, it’s a win-win situation!