Load shedding seems to be a part of our daily lives. Here are some ways you can be prepared and help keep the lights on – especially during winter.
- Be prepared. Sign up to the EskomSePush app, Load Shedding Notifier or your local municipality’s alert service if there is one. The City of Cape Town has recently launched a free load-shedding app for its customers.
- Use LED globes with a rechargeable battery backup, says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy. If there is a power outage you can still power some lights with power stored in the battery. Invest in a portable generator and inverter that can convert stored energy into current which the electricity grid can use. Alternatively, a power station such as the Ellies Cube Nova Power Station, available from Teljoy, can power devices such as laptops, monitors, WiFi routers, desk lamps and phone chargers.
- Make use of a gas braai or camping stove so that you can still boil a kettle or make a meal. “By renting a gas braai or gas hob for the next few months to have an alternative means of cooking during winter. By renting, you have the flexibility of using the gas braai or oven for as long, or as little, as you need it,” says Hurvitz. Make a gas oven part of your load shedding kit, which could also include gap lamps and gas burners.
- Switch to a grid-tied solar and battery system. This allows you to use stored solar power as a complementary power source during load shedding. “There are several financing options available. The cheapest is adding the system cost to your current bond, or we have a rent-to-own option available too. Alternatively you can start with just a battery and add some solar panels later. Or you can start with solar panels only. You don’t have to pay for a full system upfront. Build it up gradually, with financing available for each step. Taking a staggered approach like this makes it more affordable,” says Matthew Cruise of Hohm Energy.
- Remember to unplug devices that are not in use to protect them from power surges.
- Have backup batteries for gates, security systems, garage doors and alarms so that your security is not compromised during load shedding.
- Fill empty cooldrink bottles with water and keep them in the freezer. When there is loadshedding, these will keep your fridge – and food – cool for a few hours.
- Charge important devices such as laptops and cellphones. Keep a cellphone charger in your car for emergencies, adds Hurvitz.
- Place solar powered lamps or portable battery-operated lights in key spots around your home.
- There’s nothing worse than being in the dark and cold during load shedding. So, this winter, create a “cosy corner” in your home where you can bunker down if there’s a power disruption. If you know your loadshedding schedule, plan ahead and fill flasks with hot water that you can use for warm drinks or hot water bottles. Make sure this nook has a pile of thick blankets to keep you warm. If you are able to power a television with solar energy stored in a battery system, you could also have some entertainment in this area, says Hurvitz. “By renting a flatscreen from Teljoy you can enjoy entertainment throughout winter knowing that your subscription includes maintenance and risk cover.”
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With a bit of planning and a smarter use of alternative sources of power, it is possible to survive the next few months of load shedding, concludes Hurvitz.