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Picture: 123RF/Chones Chones
Picture: 123RF/Chones Chones

Last Thursday marked 100 days of no load-shedding, which has caught pretty much everybody by surprise. But with load-shedding missing in action, we’re faced with the other stark reality: our electricity is expensive, very expensive. 

For those on prepaid in Joburg, it just got even more so as City Power added a R200 monthly charge which, depending on your usage, is potentially another 10% or more on top of your monthly spend. 

There isn’t anything we can do about this rent-seeking charge, but can we reduce our overall electricity usage? 

The simple tricks like using energy-efficient LED bulbs have probably been in place in most homes for years already, but there are other things we can look at doing to cut the bill. 

A microwave or even an air fryer is cheaper to run than a traditional oven. Now, sure, an air fryer is just a small oven, but that’s the point: it’s smaller so it uses less power. 

Turning down the heat setting on your geyser by 6°C will save about 3% of power usage, and of course showers use less hot water than a bath. Insulating the geyser and pipes also helps. 

An air fryer is just a small oven, but that’s the point: it’s smaller so it uses less power

When washing clothes, do full loads only, and wash at a lower temperature than the default 40°C. If the clothes aren’t actually dirty, you can drop the temperature to zero and just use the water as it comes out of the tap. 

Turn off appliances at the wall. The TV may be off but it is still drawing power. It may not be that much power (less than 5W) and turning it off at the wall is a mission — it reminds me of my grandfather who’d follow us around the house turning off lights — but those appliances are still drawing power. A power strip can make turning them off less of a hassle. 

Don’t heat the bedroom. We use an electric blanket that we turn on for only a short period before bedtime. We’re lucky to have a north-facing apartment that gets a lot of sunlight. We close the curtains as soon as the sun dips below the horizon as the walls of glass windows get really cold without direct light, making the room colder. Closing curtains helps reduce the transfer of cold into the rooms. 

A thermostat heater also helps reduce power usage. 

We found even small things like sealing doors and windows properly helped a little. Double-glazed windows are awesome, but wildly expensive. 

None of these on their own makes a huge difference, but with our very expensive Eskom electricity and municipal markups, every bit helps. 

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