10 tips for when the lights go out

10 tips for when the lights go out

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

Recalibrate your cooking

Although we can’t plan for unexpected power outages, knowing when the lights will go out helps us to plan around our load shedding shifts. Take a look at your neighbourhood’s load shedding schedule and see where you are most likely to be out of power during meal preparation times. Then, plan ahead. On the nights where you know you will have power, cook a double meal and keep it in the fridge - you can warm it up just before your next load shedding shift starts.

Make a new meal plan

If you can’t cook ahead of schedule, make a new meal plan for your family’s week. During the evenings where the lights go out, enjoy a dinner of finger foods, crunchy salads, and simple sandwiches. Nobody’s going to complain about crudites when their only other option is cold soup.

Read more: Weird and wonderful ways to cook food

Dinner under the stars

Dining outdoors is always fun, and now that the evenings are cooling down, it’s the perfect season for a braai. Rather than waiting for friends to come over, or you have something to celebrate, make one night a week a braai night. It’s a great way to spend time together as a family, without the distraction of television getting in the way.

Light it up

Investing in rechargeable lights that you can carry around the house when you need them, is essential. Your local hardware store will stock them, and making sure they charge while your power is on is important. If you can, find rechargeable lights that have a carry handle or hook: these make it easier for moving around the house as and when you need to, and keeping the room you’re in lit up.

Motion sensor magic

They’re small and relatively inexpensive, making motion sensor lights a must. Skip the type that requires installation and connection to electricity: go for battery-powered or rechargeable lights. Most battery-operated motion sensor lights can be used indoors, and easily adhered to your wall using double-sided tape. These lights can be extremely useful for lighting up dark cupboards and hallways, or even used as a night light in your children’s bedrooms.

See more: How to stay safe in the dark

Download and curl up

If you’re battling to find the time to fit in a good binge watching session of your favourite series, load shedding is here to help. Yes, really! Most streaming services in South Africa let you download movies or episodes of your favourite series, for you to enjoy offline. Which means that, even when the lights go out, you can still enjoy your TV favourites by watching them on your smartphone or tablet.

Board games

Dust off your collection of board games and get ready to crown someone the new family champion. Load shedding shifts currently last between two to four-and-a-half hours long: the perfect amount of time to settle in for a feisty game of Monopoly, or a mind-flexing round of Scrabble. Many board games have an educational benefit too, so skip the spelling revision homework for tonight, and instead focus on expanding your child’s vocabulary in far more fun ways.

Consider the alternatives

Installing alternative power sources and systems that help you conserve energy is a great idea. Not only will it help you keep the lights on during load shedding, it can also boost the value of your property. Installing solar panels, a solar-powered geyser, or a UPS, may feel expensive at the time, but they quickly pay for themselves in terms of lowering your utility bills, and continually providing your home with power. Moreover, moving some, if not all, of your energy supply ‘off grid’ can make your home more attractive to an interested buyer, should you decide to sell in the future. Thanks to keen public interest in green technologies and eco-friendly living, the cost of implementing environmentally friendly technologies in your home is becoming relatively inexpensive.

On again, off again

Thanks to genius developers, there are a number of mobile applications you can now download, to keep you informed of load shedding stages and schedules. Rather than trying to decipher the somewhat incomprehensible tables that list load shedding shifts, these mobile applications make it easy to understand and know when and where your power will be out. Many of them also send you a push notification just before your allotted slot of load shedding begins, once you’ve selected your zone and schedule.

We’re in this together

Load shedding isn’t the most fun thing to look forward to, but it can be turned into something positive. Work with your neighbours to think up ways to keep the neighbourhood safe when the power is out, and perhaps consider starting community patrols or similar programmes, scheduled around load shedding shifts. To make things a little more festive, host a neighbourhood bring-and-braai when load shedding happens over dinner time. If everyone has to find a new way to do things, we may as well do it together!

Read more: Tips for choosing a generator

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