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How do I drive down my electricity consumption to avoid power shortages?

Belgium uses up most electrical power between 5 pm and 8 pm on weekdays: offices and shops are still open for business, trains, trams and the underground system are operating at peak performance and people are getting dinner on at home.

To avoid selective power cuts, there is only one thing for it: to drive down overall power consumption during these times. How? Courtesy of a general mobilisation. With what are often simple actions that will not affect your lifestyle or sense of comfort, you can do your bit by reducing or spreading your power consumption to include other times of the day or the week.

Cut down your power consumption at work

  • Switch off your computer, your computer screen as well as photocopiers, beamers and coffee machines when you leave.
  • As to lighting, do not forget hallways, cellars, toilets, storage rooms and copy rooms: remember to hit the off switch as you leave, even if it is the middle of the day.
  • Perhaps you could also consider investing in fitting more energy-efficient lights at the office or your shop. It is a great way to show your sense of solidarity, but it is also a great boost for the environment, not to mention your wallet.
  • Switch off the ventilation from 4.30 pm. As people start leaving the building anyway around about this time of day, there is less need for ventilation. In fact, you could well decide to do without when a power shortage is announced.

Cut down your power consumption at home

  • Programme things as much as you can … Have your large household appliances set so that their cycle ends by around 4.30 pm or they do not start until after 8 pm or even later, to make the most of your two-rate time-of-day tariff if you signed up for that.
  • Do you have an electric boiler for your domestic hot water? Switch on your boiler outside of peak times. This will not stop you from enjoying nicely hot water. Grab a shower instead of running a bath. This will not only see you use less energy but also less water.
  • Get the board games out. Your kids will be delighted. Plus you only need to make light in one room and you can switch off the TV, the decoder, the WiFi modem, the PlayStation, etc., which are all energy guzzlers as it is.
  • Use the microwave rather than your electric oven and the electric cooker. Prepare small dishes that are easy to cook up. And why not use that old pressure cooker that greatly speeds up cooking times.
  • Switch off appliances on stand-by, unplug your chargers and use your battery-powered laptop during peak times.
  • As to lighting, the same tips apply: switch off the lights when you leave the room. Raise the children's awareness: 'Who forgot to switch off the light?' Consider investing in more energy-efficient lighting. Get rid of halogen bulbs and above all those floor lamps. And if a power shortage is announced, remember to switch off your decorative lights.

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