Saving energy together

By Niko Allie

Government understands the immense frustration caused by load shedding and we know the strain it puts on households, business and society. Although we have made steady progress in dealing with load shedding our energy grid remains under pressure and every megawatt saved is precious.

One of the simplest ways that we can all contribute to keeping the lights on is to save electricity by managing demand. Eskom’s national demand side management initiative which was launched in 2023 aims to save about 1 500 megawatts of energy for the grid, and the potential energy savings from lowering demand could be even greater if everyone plays their part.

Both residential homes and business can make a sizeable contribution to reducing demand by a careful use of geysers, lights and other water-heating equipment, such as kettles.

If we all take action and adopt an energy saving lifestyle to reduce electricity usage particularly during critical periods of constrained energy supply, we can make a difference.

Our peak electricity demand periods usually occur in the mornings from 6am to 9am and in the early evenings from 5pm to 9pm. During the evening peak millions of households typically use their appliances for cooking, bathing, heating, lighting, and entertainment.

If we together manage the peak periods better we can reduce the chances or duration of load shedding, and also ensure that the limited supply of electricity can be enjoyed by more citizens.

By simply switching off all non-essential lighting and non-essential appliances we can reduce the load on the grid and help to keep the lights on. One of the biggest power guzzlers in a home are electric geysers; air conditioners, space heaters and pool pumps also put high demand on the grid.

All these appliances can safely be put off when not in use and doing so will not affect the quality of life of households and citizens.  The typical electric geyser heats up in about an hour and the water should remain hot for many hours thereafter.  Imagine how many megawatts we could save if every household and business only ran their geyser once or twice a day for only an hour.

The same principle applies to space heaters, pool pumps, air conditioners and any other appliance.  By simply switching them off when they are not required, or not in use we can make a massive difference.

Oftentimes lights will be left on in rooms while not in use, or chargers will be left powered on in wall sockets.  These behaviours are typical in many households and they not only consume power, but also drive up the electricity bill.  

By turning off electrical appliances when not in use we save money and consume less power.  Geysers are responsible for between 30 to 50 percent of your electricity bill and they do not need to be switched on at all times. Another way to lower water heating costs is to lower the thermostat of your geyser which is often set to the max setting.

Households are also encouraged to switch to energy efficient light bulbs and if possible to cook using gas. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) use one-fifth to one-third of the electricity and last eight times longer.

On their own, these little actions don’t seem like much, but when replicated across millions of homes and in businesses they will make a major difference.  The actions we take today can get us through this tough period, and we can do it together.