Posted by & filed under Cut the current.

Many of us have an old chest freezer or our old fridge from when we bought our shiny new fridge for the kitchen.

Now it has been banished to the garage to keep a few block of ice and keep our drinks cold, or just in case we need more cold beer. But how much does that old fridge or freezer really cost us? Could it really be as much as R3 per day!? That would mean if you drank 2 beers every week from the fridge, you’ll pay more to run the fridge, than the beer. Or put it another way, turn off that fridge outside and you’ll net yourself a 2 beer reward (or a bottle of win!) – otherwise known as R20 every week!

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Posted by & filed under Everything else.

It’s been a while since we added to our quick and handy tool set. So it’s about time we put some of the big users in the home into context.

When we talk about 1 unit of electricity, or 1 kilowatt-hour (kwh) it can be confusing as to what that really means. So hopefully the graphic below should help. All of the items below will cost you the SAME on your electricity bill.

Our handy energy comparison

 

 

We often say that hot water is the biggest user in your house, but that it depends on your house. Hopefully this graphic above will help you understand what IS and what ISN’T important when trying to cut your bill.

So yes, that’s right – heating 20 Litres of water (that’s a pretty big sink full) to 60 degrees will use around 1 kilowatt hour of electricity. That’s exactly the same as running a pool pump for 2 hours, which is the same as running an old-style light bulb for 12 hours or a new CFL or LED light bulb for 5 days!! Your household phone chargers are another level down again – with around 1 months usage using about the same as the others.

Obviously your mileage may vary — your pool pump might be much bigger and your chargers might be much more efficient, but generally I hope these numbers will be generally right.

BTW – LED lights are very similar in usage to the 10W CFL bulb shown above, give or take.

If there’s anything you’d like us to compare to – add a comment or contact us!

Posted by & filed under Everything else.

Just as a bit of warning for all of you late night Wednesday prepaid token buyers:

“The City of Cape Town’s electricity prepayment vending system will be switched off for planned maintenance from 22:00 on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 until 05:00 on Thursday, 18 September 2014,” a statement said.

“Consumers are advised to please ensure that they have sufficient units to carry them through this period.”

homebug2days2

You can check that your credit will last from your Homebug dashboard! You’ll see right there how many weeks, days or hours your credit will last (based on your REAL consumption history). And right from there you just click the little shopping basket to top up.

PS: If you’re direct with Eskom, then you won’t be affected by the City of Cape Town upgrade (fingers-crossed!)

 

 

Posted by & filed under Everything else.

So it’s official, electricity prices will be rising harder and faster than the 8% already planned.
NERSA have agreed that Eskom can raises prices more than 8% next April, but they haven’t agreed exactly how much yet!
“South African power utility firm Eskom has been given permission to raise electricity prices next year above the 8 percent previously granted, the energy regulator said on Wednesday.”
By my reckoning, it looks like 12-14% price hikes are on the cards! So buckle down and start reducing your usage before next April! You’ve been given a nice 10 months to get moving people 🙂
We’d recommend starting with a Homebug just to see how much you really use and when first… but more on that later!

There’s more detail here:

http://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom-gets-nod-to-increase-prices-20140730

and here:

http://af.reuters.com/article/southAfricaNews/idAFL6N0Q54JY20140730?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

Posted by & filed under Everything else.

Over the past few months there has been news story after news story of Eskom struggling with:

  • Strikes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28123907
  • Leadership: http://www.miningweekly.com/article/brown-promises-swift-action-on-eskom-sustainability-new-ceo-2014-06-05
  • Finances: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2014/05/16/struggling-eskom-asks-for-tariff-adjustment
  • Keeping the lights on: http://www.news24.com/Travel/South-Africa/Cape-Town-Airport-included-in-Eskom-load-shedding-20140618
  • Keeping the country happy: http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/burning-rage-over-power-cuts-1.1713816#.U7gLm_ldUdo
  • Not killing people!: http://allafrica.com/stories/201407041112.html

I’m not going to get into the politics of it all, but needless to say, it might be a good time to start helping yourself and Eskom by producing your own power? So what can you use to go off grid?

What are the options?

gensetBack during the last big series of load-shedding in SA in 2006, lots of people bought small diesel or petrol generators, in an attempt to keep the lights on in their home or business. These are pretty handy for load shedding, but are pretty awful when it comes to cutting costs or being reliable. They are too expensive to run all the time, and so you only use them when you need them – and in the mean time they break down — so they often don’t work when you need them!

 

Solar is the sexy, new alternative to generators it seems. Everyone and his dog is selling solasolarpic150r-power (Photovoltaic’s to the nerds amongst us!) to anyone who has money to burn. You’ll hear so many tales of people in Germany and Britain using Solar PV and how great it is, but unfortunately the subsidies just aren’t the same in South Africa. In the UK, the subsidy meant that people were being paid almost R8/kwh… just for installing the panels, regardless of whether they actually used the power. We’ve written before about going off-grid with Solar before (http://blog.homebug.co.za/?p=119). Basically, at least from our latest calculations, it seems you’ll struggle to get 4-5% back on your investment in solar-PV…. but I hope to update the calculations soon!. Our rule of thumb is always reduce you usage before you invest – and focus on heating things first.

windcoega200pxWind is Solar-power’s ugly nephew, it has much less of a fancy reputation, but in the right places it can produce more energy for less money. The bad thing about wind is that there is very little warning about when or where it will be windy, unlike solar which is largely reliable (i.e. we know the sun is coming out tomorrow, we just don’t know how strong!). However, unlike Solar the wind CAN blow at night, in summer and winter in equal measure etc. So it is ‘unreliable’ in one respect, but it’s also more consistent in another. Unfortunately, because of this and many other reasons (noise, local objections, what they look like), Wind really struggles to get the same attention. I need to update my figures, but as far as I understand it, Wind can be cheaper and better than solar, in the right places… but more about that later.

Gas – the alternative that often isn’t put in the same bucket, but why not? Basically, using a gas-brai to cook 220px-LPG_cylinderson, and a gas geyser to shower with will massively reduce your electricity usage. We reckon about 50-80% of electricity in a home is used heating up things (particularly water, but also food, and just the space around you). If you can pass that job on to gas, then you really reduce what you need to get from either Eskom or the other options above. We’ll work out the figures in the next couple of weeks and let you know whether it’s more expensive that electricity or not, as right now I’ve heard people say both ways! Don’t worry, as always at Homebug, we’ll do the maths for you!

There’s loads of better people to talk to about all the details of going completely off-grid – just google it for yourself! Here’s a couple of examples:

http://goingsolar.co.za/

http://blog.bidorbuy.co.za/2013/05/solutions-to-load-shedding

Let us know if you know of any good sources of making the off-grid vision a reality and I’ll add them to the list!