An associate of mine recently pointed out that Eskom must be one of the few companies in the world that spends money encouraging people to buy less of their product.
Humorous as this little factoid may be Eskom has good reason to do so. South Africa’s energy outlook is precarious and will continue to be so for 2012 thanks partly to the fact that construction of the new Medupi power station at Lephalale has been delayed. Medupi was due to start producing power towards the end of 2012. It is now forecast that it will only come on-line in May 2013.
Given this scenario, Eskom is appealing to all customers to save electricity wherever possible. With respect to the residential sector, Eskom says South Africa’s residential users account for around 17, 5 percent of the total electricity generated. This percentage increases at peak periods to around 30 percent which span from 7am to 10am and 5pm to 9pm.
During peak times, people tend to be at home watching TV, using washing machines and taking baths. Of all the gadgets and appliances, geysers and pool pumps appear to be the worst energy ‘culprits’. Geysers alone can account for up to 29 percent of a household’s power and pool pumps can use up to 11 percent.
Eskom highlighted the high usage levels of geysers and pool pumps at the launch of their recent 5-9 campaign which appeals to residents to switch off these appliances during peak periods. The following easy- to-follow guidelines form part of Eskom’s current campaign:
• Geyser: Geysers use the most electricity in the home so turning them off is effective when trying to control peak demand and prevent load shedding. Load shedding is what happens whenever there is an unplanned shortfall in the country’s electricity supply. As previously mentioned, geysers can be responsible for as much as 39 percent of a typical household’s usage. Switching the geyser off during peak times reduces demand on the national grid. Insulating geysers and water pipes also significantly reduce heat loss.
• Showers: Showers use less water than bathing. Using less hot water means less work for the geyser. Add an energy-efficient shower head to the equation to save energy and water.
• Lighting: Replace all your incandescent bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent lamps and switch off lights in unoccupied rooms.
• Standby electricity: Don’t leave your TV, DVD player and the like in standby mode. You might think these appliances aren’t drawing much power but in reality they are still using up to 50 percent of their operating power when in standby mode. Rather switch them off at the power switch. The same applies to cellphone chargers. Once your cellphone is charged, unplug the charger or it will continue to draw power.
• Refrigeration: Close your door quickly once you’ve selected what you want. Doing so will prevent the fridge from using extra power to get back to its optimal cooling level.
• Temperature control: Keep your room temperatures set between 20 and 22ºC in summer and 18 ºC in winter. This will achieve what is referred to as the energy saving ‘golden zone’.
Simply put, the golden rule to apply at home is if you’re not using it, switch it off.