1. SAVE THE PLANET at the same time as your bank account, says Simon Gear, author of Going Green (Penguin Books SA). ‘Grow an organic herb and vegetable garden. I keep a chicken for fresh eggs daily – although it does eat a lot!’ If you have a pool, keep it covered when it’s not in use to reduce evaporation (and save water), and teach kids – leading by example – to turn off the tap when brushing their teeth. But, thankfully, Gear says it saves more water to use a full dishwasher than to wash dishes in the sink after every meal. He says he uses a flow restrictor in his shower – ‘it reduces water flow by 30%, but you can’t feel the difference’. And the old brick-in-the-cistern trick? Yes, it works.
2. SWITCH TO PREPAID FOR YOUR CELLPHONE AND DITCH GYM FEES, says Winnie Kunene, a Johannesburg money coach. ‘Prepaid will teach your kids – and you – about responsibility. Kids tend not to understand how much each SMS, call or bit of data used costs. Decide how much you can afford every month and stick to it – even when airtime expires. And if you’re paying for a gym membership that you hardly ever use, unsubscribe and start walking instead. It’s free.’
3. KILL THE ENERGY VAMPIRES Unplug appliances. Even when they’re turned off, appliances and electronics on stand-by draw electricity that can amount to between 10% and 20% of your electricity bill. Gear also says switch to CFL or LED lights, which will last years longer. He disputes that it costs as much to turn lights on and off as it does to turn them off when you leave a room. He suggests turning your geyser (about a third of your electricity costs) down from the usual default of 65°C to 55°C.
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