People’s power

TASNEEM HASSAN

Annemarie Rademeyer of Monte Vista, along with many other South Africans, is putting MacGyver in the shade when it comes to finding ingenious ways of beating high electricity prices.

Eskom has appealed to the National Energy Regulator of SA (NERSA) to hike power prices by 16.6 percent. In July last year, the City of Cape Town increased electricity by 10.82 percent.

Ms Rademeyer gets her electricity from the City.

She and her children, a son, 23, and a daughter, 15, are now only using 13.2 units a day, compared to 21 units last September. If the Rademeyers keep doing what they’re doing, they expect their monthly power bill to be about R466, compared to the whopping R1 800 they were paying for electricity in September last year before they started saving.

The family’s goal is to use less than 10 units a day, at a cost of about R363 a month.

The City moved customers no longer qualifying for the heavily subsidised lifeline 1 or lifeline 2 electricity tariffs to the unsubsidised domestic tariff in September last year.

The lifeline tariff helps poor customers with pre-paid meters who use less than 450kWh a month, have a property valuation under R300 000 and get a disability or senior citizen rebate.

Lifeline customers get 60 units free if their average use is below 250kWh a month (lifeline 1) or 25 units free if their average use is between 250kWh and 450kWh a month (lifeline 2).

Domestic tariff customers who feel they use less than the average of 450kWh a month and meet the other criteria can apply to the City to be placed on the lifeline tariff.

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In 2009, Ms Rademeyer bought a gas stove.

She said it only cost her R200 to refill the cylinder ever four months, accounting for huge saving on the power bill. She said the family also only turn on a light when it’s needed.

The family also have several other power-saving tips:

* No full bath tubs (it also saves on water).

* Keep cellphone chargers out of the sockets if not charging or connected to a cellphone.

* Don’t switch a fluorescent light on and off. Keep it on for as long as you will still use the room (normally the kitchen). It takes more electricity to switch it on every time than leaving it on until you don’t need it anymore

* Don’t switch off the television when viewing is interrupted, rather mute the sound.

* When working on your computer, get a desk fan with a USB plug to plug into your computer or laptop.

* Don’t defrost meat in the basin with hot water. Take the meat out the night before, and put it in the fridge in the morning.

“I hope everybody in the neighbourhood is also trying, and succeeding in cutting down on electricity bills or usage. It can be rewarding on your pocket. It took us since September last year to get from about 21 units a day to where we are now,” said Mr Rademeyer.

She said being a single mother had helped her to adjust to the changes, as savings costs was always a priority.

“My kids are very into saving water and electricity, so it wasn’t that bad getting everyone into the swing of things.”

She challenges herself to see where she can save every day. Using the tumble dryer during winter remains a challenge.

“We have to make a wise decision – when it is completely necessary to use it,” she said.

Nersa rejected Eskom’s 2015 application for a 25.3 percent price hike. But the parastatal is now looking to recover costs to the tune of R22.8 billion, much of it generated by lower electricity sales and the running of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGT) to avoid load shedding.