Green Team: Tips to save more electricity

Saving electricity is in all of our best interests. Most electricity comes from burning limited and expensive fossil fuels. Other electricity comes from hydropower dams, which can have a devastating effect on natural ecosystems and severely damage fisheries.  In both cases, consuming more electricity has a negative impact on the environment.

As well, electricity in Dakar is expensive.  Did you know the average money spent on our monthly electricity bill for residences hovers upwards of $500?  If we were paying this out of our own pockets, we would do all we can to bring that down to a reasonable level.  It is our responsibility as stewards of taxpayer money to reduce spending where we can.

Here are a few tips to help reduce waste:

  • Darken your room – Just by closing the curtains you can reduce the amount of heat coming into your room, thus making your A/C work less. Housekeepers may want to open these curtains. If you want them closed, speak with your housekeeper about this.
  • Turn Off your A/C when no one is home – If your house is empty, there is no reason to cool it down. It does not take very long (15 minutes or so) to get a room to a comfortable temperature. If you have a house keeper that wants the temperature warmer, she can turn on the A/C 30 minutes before you arrive home.
  • Especially now that “winter” is here in Dakar, you might not need that A/C on at all. Try sleeping with just the fan on… you may find it more comfortable.
  • Does your housekeeper wear a jacket? – If so, it may be too cold for her in your house. Speak with your housekeeper to find out her preference.  She may prefer it a little warmer. If so, give her the leeway to change the temperature if necessary.
  • Use the timer feature on your A/C – Like the “Setback” on central A/C’s in the U.S., our wall units have timer features on them to turn it off and on.
  • “Won’t I get mold?” – No, you won’t. Even in Dakar’s humid season, leaving your A/C off for a few hours a day will not give you mold. Leaving it off for a couple of months could.  If you notice mold after turning your A/C off for a short time, chances are the mold spores were already present in your house, and must be cleaned properly.
  • Use overhead fans – Fans will circulate the cool air, allowing you to raise the temperature on your A/C, and still keep cool. If you do not have fans in your home, speak with GSO/FAC about the possibility of installing some (if they have them in stock).
  • Take advantage of the breeze – Some houses are built so that when all the windows are open, a nice breeze blows through the house. If your house has this feature, use it!
  • Turn Off lights when they aren’t in use – Kids (if you have them) are very good at playing this game.
  • Compact Fluorescents – All embassy houses are supplied with Compact Fluorescent bulbs, which use substantially less electricity compared with regular bulbs. When replacing light bulbs, use compact fluorescents. Replacement bulbs are available from GSO’s expendable supply stock.

We understand that each house is different, and what works for some houses may not work for other houses.  This is not to say that you need to swelter in your homes and be uncomfortable.  As well, some people have allergies, there are family members at home during the day, or other circumstances that require a cooler house.  We aren’t saying you need to suffer. What we are trying to avoid is wasteful use of electricity, both for environmental and financial reasons. These all require a change in routine and habits, something that is not easy to do. We hope you will do your part.