Eskom has slated April 2021 as the next date for electricity price increases.
This adds to the growing issues faced by South Africans, who must also contend with regular load-shedding that disrupts their home life.
In fact, load-shedding has got so bad that popular tracking app Eskom se Push recently crossed 2 million users.
With this in mind, many South Africans have turned to alternative ways to power their homes – with solar power being the most popular solution.
Why South Africans are going solar
Solar power makes sense in South Africa due to the sunny weather in the country, which makes it easy for to capture light from the sun and convert it into energy.
This energy can be stored in batteries for when the sun is not shining – such as in cloudy weather and at night.
Some South Africans choose to implement smaller systems that can be used during load-shedding for a limited number of appliances and lights, while others have gone completely off the grid.
Going completely off the grid is now a particularly attractive option given Eskom’s recent statements which note its desire to charge solar power users a fee if they are connected to the grid at all.
How to afford solar power
While solar power makes long-term financial sense, funding a switch to solar power can be budget-intensive in the short term, explained Tonye Irims of WiSolar.
“You will need to buy all of the relevant hardware and pay for the installation of your solar power system, which can be extremely costly for the average South African home owner or landlord,” said Irims.
However, there are ways you can lessen or even negate some of the immediate financial challenges faced when switching to solar.
For example, if you replace your current incandescent lightbulbs with power-saving LEDs, you will use much less electricity.
This because LED bulb use approximately 10x less energy than an incandescent bulb that offers the same luminance.
You can also implement lifestyle changes like using gas stoves, ovens, heaters, and geysers, which all consume lots of electricity.
If you are not willing to use gas, you should at least choose appliances that have an AAA+ energy rating, as these use about 30% less energy than A-rated alternatives.
These simple changes will reduce the size of the solar installation you require – thereby reducing its cost.
Another great way to reduce your initial capital outlay is using a solar power payment plan.
This option means you will not need to pay a massive upfront price to get your solar power system installed.
Irims said that their 6-year payment plan has worked very well for customers who want to switch to solar without incurring a massive initial capital outlay.
It has been used both by home owners and by landlords, with the latter using WiSolar’s prepaid electricity system that allows them to charge their tenants for electricity directly.
No matter which methods you take to reduce your reliance on the power grid, what has become increasingly clear that this is a smart decision for your pocket and sanity.
Eskom has indicated that the average home in South Africa uses about 900kWh of power per month, which would translate in Johannesburg to about R2,250 per month, or R27,000 per year.
With this price likely to increase tremendously in the coming years, and given the added frustration of load-shedding which accompanies this cost, switching to a solar power solution simply makes sense.