The CSIR has detailed how South Africans can save money during load-shedding.
Speaking to media during a press briefing, the CSIR said energy tariff costs have increased by over 300% since 2008 due to load-shedding and continue to be an economic drain on the country.
Additionally, due to Eskom’s lack of sufficient capacity, the energy provider has had to load-shed 595GWh of power in March alone – nearly double that of any other month since load-shedding first began in 2015.
As a result, there are two reasons to save electricity: to save yourself money, and to lighten the load on the national energy grid.
According to the CSIR, there are four ways consumers can lower their impact on the national power grid:
- Energy efficiency
- Shifting demand
- Other energy sources
Installing energy-efficient items in your home is one of the simplest ways to save electricity without having to consciously think about it.
Useful energy efficiency measures include the installation of LED lights and electric geyser blankets, and setting air conditioners to a degree or two higher.
A more expensive way to improve your energy efficiency levels is to install energy-efficient and smart appliances in your house – including fridges, washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers which are rated as efficient.
While not directly lowering your energy usage, changing when you use certain appliances or conduct certain tasks can assist the energy grid during peak hours.
The most energy-intensive times of day are in the morning before people leave for work, and in the late afternoon when people get home from work and begin tasks like cooking.
Consumers can help the energy grid by installing a timer on their electric geyser so that it heats up during non-peak times.
Changing your pool pump timer to clean your pool during non-peak times is another powerful way to save energy, said the CSIR.
Finally, although inconvenient, changing your own behaviours to do more energy-heavy tasks during non-peak hours can help the grid remain stable.
The CSIR highlighted that while it is expensive, supplying your own electricity will lessen reliance on the Eskom grid.
If you remain connected to the grid, you can even become a “pro-sumer” – someone who pumps energy back into the grid.
Self-supply options include standby generators, rooftop solar panels, and inverters.
Other energy sources
Finally, consumers can use non-electricity sources to take load off the grid.
These including using wood and coal for cooking, using a solar water heater, and using gas to cook food or keep yourself warm.
Warning from CSIR
The CSIR warned that some of these methods can provide safety risks, however, such as using gas equipment.
They urged those who experiment with energy saving to remain vigilant about the potential risks involved.
The CSIR added that some of the methods suggested will also incur additional costs: such as the fuel or gas used to power devices such as generators.
In keeping with their suggestions for saving energy, the CSIR is in the midst of a massive project that will hopefully see them go completely off the grid within the next 5-6 years.
Currently, they generate 6% of their energy needs through two types of solar panels.
The first offers single-axis tracker technology, while the second uses dual-axis tracker technology.
Additionally, the CSIR is developing improved solar PV modules and hopes to implement other self-sustaining power sources such as bio-fuel in the future.
The CSIR’s solar panel implementation is shown below.