Load shedding is a fact of life for the foreseeable future in South Africa and a little planning and creativity can alleviate a lot of the unpleasantness during the holidays. This is according to Evan Schiff, event director of the annual African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa conference and expo in Cape Town.
Higher electricity prices in South Africa have become an increasing strain on consumers’ monthly expenses, he says. “Christmas is a great time to introduce energy saving habits into a household, as many easy and simple changes in the way we live can end up putting extra money into your pocket.”
Practical tips to plan for and cope with load shedding this holiday:
- Be prepared, and keep a regular eye on websites with information on load shedding schedules.
- Create a Whatsapp group for your neighbourhood and keep each other informed.
- Make sure that there are enough candles, matches, torches, batteries and so forth for load shedding periods after dark.
- Be ready for it! Make sure all cellphones, tablets, laptops and toys are fully charged before the lights go out. This way you can keep the kids entertained with a movie, or at least be able to use the phone.
- Have fun activities ready for when the lights are off such as board games and family time around the braai.
- Keep a gas burner as a back-up in the kitchen to be able to heat water and do essential cooking.
Have an energy efficient holiday season
“There are a variety of ways we can use a lot less electricity this holiday season”, says Schiff, “such as using LED* Christmas lights, which use 90% less electricity than regular Christmas lights. Consider investing in solar powered outdoor lights, which can also be used on the Christmas tree and only come on at night.”
“Up to 40% of all batteries are purchased during the holiday season so try to buy toys and gifts that don’t use electricity or batteries. Gifts made of recycled material are also a great environmentally friendly gesture.”
Tips for saving energy:
- Don’t use the tumble dryer unnecessarily – it is summer, so take advantage of solar powered drying.
- Turn off the room lights when the Christmas tree lights are on.
- Set a timer to Christmas and outdoor lights to limit the time they are on.
- Create a romantic and intimate atmosphere by using candles instead of lights.
- Enjoy the weather and celebrate the holidays outside with a braai instead of cooking on a stove! Or enjoy cold meats and salads during this summer season – it’s healthier and saves on power.
- If you’re going away, turn off the geyser, empty and unplug the refrigerator.
Advice for improving energy efficiency in your home during the year:
- Invest in a geyser blanket. Unless the geyser is properly insulated, switching it off does not save electricity.
- Insulate the roof to make the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter and thereby saving on seasonal heating and cooling.
- Switch off appliances at the wall plug when not in use.
- Replace CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) bulbs with LED.
- Use cold water to do laundry, it saves electricity and is better for the clothes.
Gathering thousands of energy professionals
For the past 14 years, the African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa conference and exhibition has helped to reduce the energy consumption of commercial and industrial large power users and has assisted in African utilities providing electricity and water to all of Africa. The event brings together thousands of utility professionals from across the globe to learn, share knowledge and debate the key topics that will secure the future development of Africa’s power industry. These include energy efficiency, improved service delivery, renewable energy, collaboration across the continent and investment in new power projects. South Africa’s state utility Eskom has been a key partner for many years.
The 15th edition of African Utility Week is expected to again attract more than 5000 attendees and feature 250 exhibitors, 190 speakers, eight conferences, free technical workshops on the expo floor, three high-profile plenary sessions and the coveted industry awards gala dinner. Stakeholders from across the industry and continent are represented, from Ministers of Energy through to power and water utilities, municipalities and regulators to investors and technology and service providers.
Attending the African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa exhibition is free when registering in advance and it showcases energy saving technologies and services for the industry and features hands-on demonstrations and workshops on the exhibition floor.
Eskom’s 49M campaign encourages all South Africans to take the 49M pledge to save at least 10% electricity. For more info click here.
The dates for next year’s African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa are:
- Exhibition & Conference: 12-14 May 2015
- Industry awards: 13 May 2015