If you're not using it, switch it off! That is our mantra these days across the length and breadth of South Africa. All school car-park and dinner conversations revolve around this topic, and in particular comparing when your residential zone is scheduled for load-shedding.
Riaan van Deventer, Head of Real Estate of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa suggests “Generally local councils adhere to the scheduled load-shedding times and this assists us in our daily planning. Involve the whole family and make them responsible so that they are prepared for any of their activities which could be affected. Basically we are now required to have two trains of thought – energy saving habits, and energy saving costs. These goals are achievable.”
ENERGY SAVING HABITS
- Switch off any high usage appliances in the peak periods between 5pm and 9pm
- Switch off all non-essential equipment, lights and appliances which you do not need at any particular time, day or night
- Replace energy intensive lights and appliances with energy efficient technology alternatives - CFL or LED light bulbs
- Unplug all appliances when not in use because they still draw power although they are not being used
ENERGY SAVING COSTS
- The current high electricity costs result in higher home running costs. Using less energy in your home means a lower electricity bill - and more money in your pocket at month end.
- As your geyser uses about 39% of all household electricity, switch it off to save both electricity and money. In fact a timer on your geyser is the answer and set it to switch on at 4am – 5:30am.
- Geysers should be insulated with a geyser blanket which allows the water to stay hot for longer.
- Reduce your geyser thermostat to a comfortable setting of 55°C.
- Install motion sensor lights in those specific rooms and garden areas where you only need lighting when you move around.
- Take your own electricity and water meter readings and email it to your local municipality. If this is not possible in your area, we suggest you do this exercise anyhow as an awareness into the volume you are using.
- Install Solar powered geysers.
WATER SAVING HABITS
Shower instead of bathing and use energy and water-saving shower heads. This can reduce your water consumption by 200%.
Install water tanks – this saves both electricity and municipal water costs.
Reduce your garden irrigation to a minute or two per day.
Have a number of battery lamps handy. Some of these lamps will automatically switch on when the power goes off - ensure these are kept fully charged and accessible.
There is such a variety of indoor and outdoor solar lamps and light options. One needs to be disciplined to put them in the sun to fully charge – a small sacrifice for the convenience of having light.
Have gas cookers, lamps and heaters filled and ready for use. Show all household members how these work.
Have a backup UPS battery installed in your garage door motor and sliding gate motor, so that you can safely open your gate and garage door at all times.
Invest in a back-up power supply (UPS or generator). The main difference between the two is the cost and the absolute difference in performance. Your decision will be based on your budget and performance requirements.
- Basically a battery back-up power supply.
- A UPS is much cheaper than a generator.
- A strong UPS (2000 VA or more) can be used to power all your small appliances such as computers, ADSL Router, TV, DSTV decoder, LED lights, etc. It cannot run kettles, hairdryers, stoves, washing machines etc.
- If you purchase an inverter and backup batteries you can add more batteries to the whole system as you like.
- The main benefit is that it will keep these smaller appliances running when the power goes off, so that you have time to continue using them before switching them off (avoiding power surges). The switch-over is automatic and you will not even know the power is switched off.
- Portable size and requires no maintenance.
- Makes no noise.
- The only negative drawback is that it only lasts a couple of hours, depending on what it is being used for.
- Can be either a diesel or petrol generator and will allow you to operate most equipment in your office or home.
- The generator provides unlimited hours of backup power supply.
Can either be portable or standby.
- Can be turned on/off either manually or automatically.
- The main advantage is that it can run a whole household, obviously dependant on the size and how many kilowatt it pushes out.
- Is a more expensive backup power supply system and is expensive to run on a long term basis.
Creates a lot of noise and harmful emissions.
- Requires regular maintenance.
As explained on the Eskom website, every electrical appliance needs a certain amount of energy to work. This amount depends on the wattage of the appliance and the number of hours it works, for example:
A 200 watt television, switched on for 60 hours per month, accounts for 12 000 watt-hours (12kWh) of the total kWh you use per month - this would cost you approximately R14.64 a month (at a tariff of R1.22/kWh) .
On the other hand, an electrical element geyser, providing hot water for a family or four, uses a hefty 410 to 450 kWh per month – this would cost you approximately R509.96 to R549.00 a month (at a tariff of R1.22/kWh).
This will assist you in determining which appliances use the most power so that you can make an effort to switch these off in peak times and limit their usage to the minimum.
Riaan concluded “Although we cannot influence the exact times of load shedding and the schedules, this is a reality of life and the sooner we accept this and prepare our homes to ease the inconvenience, the better. Install a UPS or generator sooner rather than later and then any load shedding in your suburb will be much easier to accept as you are now better prepared.”