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Video: Keep your electricity costs low

Nov 5, 2019

The price of municipal electricity increased by around 13-16% which is going to hurt our pockets. Understanding how electricity tariffs work will help you take charge of your spending.

If you get your power directly from Eskom you will be charged according to a different system than if you get your electricity from a municipality.

According to information provided by Citiq Prepaid, each municipality has its own system. For example, in Cape Town people with homes valued over R1 million pay a basic home user charge no matter how much power they use and different municipalities charge different rates for a unit of electricity. So it’s important to check what your own municipal system is.

Then you need to be aware of the incline block tariff (IBT) system which means the more electricity you buy in a month, the more you pay per unit.

For prepaid customers the cost is purely based on how much you buy. So buying electricity in bulk is not a good idea. Rather buy from week to week, or just enough at the beginning of each month to keep you going. It’s cheaper to top up with a few units at the end of each month than to buy enough to last two months.

Understand how much electricity your appliances use. The power rating is measured in watts (W), and this is always marked on the appliance. An energy-saving lightbulb might use 20W and an iron would be around 1 000W or 1 kiloWatt (kW).

A unit of energy, measured in kiloWatt hours (kWh), is the amount you need to run a 1kW appliance like an iron for one hour. So, your unit of electricity will last a long time if you’re using appliances with a low power rating, or get used up really fast if you’re using power-hungry appliances. A general rule is the more heat an appliance generates, the more power it uses

To save money, choose appliances with a lower power rating. For example, if you leave a 100W light bulb on for a week, which is 168 hours, you’ll use nearly 17 units of electricity. If a unit costs R1.50, then it works out to about R25.50 to keep that one light bulb burning for a week. If you change to a 4W LED energy saver bulb, you’ll use just over 0.6 units in the same week, and spend about R1 – a saving of R24.

Switching things like TVs and DVD players off at the wall when you’re not using them is one of the easiest ways to save. Also check your heaters. Even the most efficient wall panel heater uses 400W an hour, which is nearly R2,50 for four hours. A two-bar infrared heater will cost twice as much.

Putting on a jersey instead of turning on the heater, could potentially save you hundreds of rands a year.

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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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