Households in South Africa should gear up for Eskom’s tariff

The price of electricity is about to rocket by an average of 25% per year for the next three years – but South Africa households can cushion the blow by following a few simple steps, says Tedelex Trading MD Murray Crow.

The simple truth is that households will need to curb the amount of energy they consume, especially those who pay for electricity per unit.

Crow says that his company’s research suggests that two-thirds of consumers will be cutting down on electricity consumption would be key to making ends meet.  Only 3% said that they could potentially readjust to accommodate greater costs. Crow believes that a greater use of gas in the home could significantly reduce energy costs in the coming years. Heaters are one of the greatest consumers of electricity in the average household – and heat generated by electricity is 70% more expensive than that generated by gas, and produces five times more carbon dioxide emissions.

“Electric heaters are relatively cheaper to buy. However, the ongoing running costs can easily exceed the original purchase price of an electric heater,” says Crow. “It’s important to check the operating costs before you buy.”

According to Eskom, an electric heater will consume anything between 1 000 and 2 000 watts per hour, depending on the type of heater. This means that in 2012 it is going to cost the average consumer anything from R0,65 cents to R1,30 an hour to run their electric heater.

By comparison, a three-panel gas heater costs roughly R2.00 per hour.

Although this appears to be more expensive than electricity, gas heaters heat the room far faster than their electric counterparts, which means they can be switched off a lot sooner. Gas is also a more efficient form of heating.

Crow says gas stoves are also cheaper to run than electric stoves. “Gas is more expensive to purchase and install, but it is worth it in the long run, as gas stoves have lower running costs. This will make a noticeable difference in your electricity consumption,” says Crow.

“A 19kg bottle of gas lasts approximately 6 – 8 months for the average family, depending on how many burners you use, and will cost you around R340 to purchase the gas. By comparison, it can cost R48.12 per month just to run the front large hot plate on their electric stove, R9.02 per month to run the small front hotplate and R27,06 to run the large back hotplate. It is therefore substantially cheaper to use a gas stove.”

One of the factors inhibiting the uptake of gas appliances is the perception that it is dangerous. However, safety commissioner Ted Parrett of LPGSASA (Liquid Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa) says that by following basic safety measures – like keeping the cylinder in the back of the heater, instead of on the ground – gas can be totally safe to use within the home.