At home | WWF South Africa

At home

Get your house in order!

Reduce your carbon footprint at home with these eco-friendly tips:
Be waste-wise. Make it your goal to have a ZERO WASTE household. If you start composting and recycling you can DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of waste you send to your local landfill site every week.

Recycle. Click here to download a copy of our recycling database and search for the recycling depots or collection services in your area. Find out what is recyclable and start today!


Stove efficiency
  • Cover pots and pans to keep in the heat.
  • Match the size of the stove plate to the size of the pot. Using a smaller pot on a larger stove plate means that the exposed part of the stove plate is being wasted.
  • Keep your stovetop clean. If there’s dirt there, it is absorbing some of the heat.
  • Invest in copper-bottom or cast iron cookware as they heat up faster and reduce cooking time.
  • Use good quality flat bottomed cookware to ensure that maximum contact is made between the stove plate and your pot and minimum heat is lost inbetween.
Oven efficiency
  • Don’t open more than necessary. Every time you open the oven door you lose up to 10 °C.
  • Turn off the oven shortly before the meal is done. The oven will retain enough heat to finish the cooking.
  • Bake with ceramic, glass or cast iron as they all retain heat .This means you can lower your cooking temperature by about 5 °C.
  • Clear and clean your racks. Avoid oven trays or foiling your racks. If the racks are clear it improves air circulation and heat transfer.
Buy a gas stove for your eco-friendly home. Pro chefs love gas stoves because of the instant heat and control they offer. Gas stoves are also far cheaper to operate and save on electricity.

Use your dishwasher. Hand washing dishes, if you leave the tap running, can result in much wasted water, while a dishwasher can reduce water use on dishes by 35%. But be sure to only use your dishwasher when its full (as it uses the same amount of electricity and water regardless of the amount of dishes) and to stop it before the drying cycle. Rather open the door and let the dishes airdry.

Use your sink. If you fill two sinks; one with soapy water and one with warm water for rinsing, this will use even less water than a dishwasher. Especially if you do all your dishes in one go.

Fix leaky taps
  • A steady drip adds up fast! Fixing it usually involves disassembling the faucet and replacing the worn out washer inside (any hardware store can help guide you). Sort out your drips to save water and money.
  • Regularly replace washers as even a slow dripping tap can waste as much as 30 litres of water a day.
Avoid opening the fridge or the freezer unnecessarily. For each minute a fridge door is open, it takes three energy guzzling minutes for it to cool down again. It can take a freezer as long as thirty minutes to regain its temperature if the door is open for just one minute.

Clean the coils on your fridge. The coils on your fridge are those sometimes grotty looking things at the back. They shouldn’t be gortty! It’s important to keep them clean because they transfer heat from the inside to the outside of the fridge, keeping the inside cold. When the coils are dirty and dusty it hinders the amount of heat dispersed, insulating the coils and as a result the fridge needs to use even more energy to keep cold. Clean coils can improve efficiency by 30%.

How to clean them:
  1. Wipe the coils to remove the dust and ensure there is a space between them and the wall to allow air to circulate freely.
  2. Clear the top of the fridge
  3. Clutter on top can hinder the work of the compressor by blocking air circulation.
Keep it full
  • Every time you open the fridge door cold air escapes and warm air enters. If you keep your fridge about two thirds full the cold items inside it will help it to recover the cold temperature when opened.
  • If your fridge is getting empty, keep some containers of water inside.
  • If it’s full, don’t pack it too tightly - air should be able to circulate.

Keep it cool
  • Never place hot food in the fridge - let it cool first.
  • Defrost your freezer often - a frosted up freezer uses more energy.
  • Clean the door seals or gaskets to make sure it is sealing tightly every time you open it.
Location. Make sure your fridge isn’t standing in direct sunlight (if it is, shut the blind) or near any heat source like an oven or dishwasher.

Flush with less water.
Whether or not you decide to flush less often, using less water per flush will do a lot to conserving water. Put a water hippo (2 l bottle filled with water) in your cistern.

Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. You can save up to 9 litres of water a minute.

Don’t overcharge.
Turn off appliances at the wall. Cellular phone chargers, shavers and electric toothbrushes all continue to draw electricity even when they are fully charged. A television left in standby mode uses nearly a quarter of the electricity it uses when it is on.

Warming the ol’ geyser. Geysers can consume as much as 40% of a household’s energy. Set the thermostat to no more than 60 degrees and fit a geyser blanket (available at hardware stores) to reduce lost heat.

Car pool with the kids. Sharing lifts with other parents is a great way to reduce traffic, emissions and save on petrol.

Go solar. A typical solar water heater costs around R12 000-R15 000. A solar water heater is likely to realize a return on investment in saved electricity costs (even in South Africa which has the some of the world’s lowest electricity tariffs) within 5 to 10 years and has a life expectancy of 20 years. This return will happen even sooner with the rise in electricity prices.

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Be a Hero for the Planet and switch off your light when you leave the room.
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A frontloader uses 40% less water, 50% less energy and a lot less detergent than toploaders. It takes 95 litres of water for every wash you do regardless of whether it is full or not.
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Save water. Shower instead of having a bath.
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  • Showering instead of bathing can save 100l of water - but only if you keep it shorter than 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the water while you soap up.
  • Install a water efficient shower head and reduce your consumption by 50%, to just 10 litres a minute.

Did you know?

If 1 million people replaced one incandescent bulb with a Compact Fluorescent light bulb (CFL), more than 200 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions would be eliminated per year.
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Always water your garden after sunset.
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For more green tips & news visit Urbansprout.

Go to an eco-school

    Make sure your child’s teacher knows about the WESSA/WWF Eco-Schools Programme and encourage the school to sign up by calling the Eco-Schools head office at 033 330 3931.