An above-normal electricity bill forced me to have a closer look at which appliances take the biggest chunk of rands from my wallet every month.
A few simple calculations – with the assistance of Deon Roodt, a Pretoria-based electrical engineer with DFR Engineers – unsurprisingly show that appliances that are used for heating are the main culprits. However, what is surprising is the extent of the electricity these appliances consume and the impact they have on the metro bill.
In the examples below, I have used the “average” appliances that are used in many households. There are obviously different models in every category, which may use more or less electricity.
I also compare the actual costs of these appliances with the tariffs we saw in 2008, prior to the annual double digit spiking of Eskom tariffs, to show just how Eskom has reduced the disposable income of the middle class.
In 2008 Joburgers paid 43c KW/h. Today, the tariff is a whopping R1.26 KW/h – an increase of 193% over the period. To put this into perspective, an annual 6% inflation-based increase would have pushed the 43c tariff in 2008 to around 71c in 2017, an increase of 65% over the period.
This leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth as the Gupta-captured Eskom channelled a portion of these increases to Saxonworld and Dubai, but that is a story for another day.
Let’s get back to the example. The impact of the tariff increases becomes slightly more tangible when we look at the actual costs (inclusive of VAT) of using household appliances.
|Appliance||Watt usage||Ave usage/month (hours)||2008||2017||Usage||Cost per day|
|Washing machine||1500||15||R10,21||R32,40||30 mins/day||R1,08|
|Tumble dryer||2700||15||R18,38||R58,31||30 mins/day||R1,94|
|Wall mounted heater||400||180||R32,68||R103,67||6 hrs/day||R3,46|
|Pool pump||400||60||R10,89||R34,56||2 hrs/day||R1,15|
I thumb-sucked the monthly hourly usage largely based on the usage patterns in my own home. (Except the geyser – I have a gas model). It is evident that heating appliances such as geysers and heaters consume the most electricity. These costs are also only for one appliance; many households have more than one geyser and several heaters to keep the winter chill away.
The oil heater – the normal oil fin model – consumes nearly R390 worth of power a month. Interestingly, Game currently sells a seven fin 1 500 Watt oil heater for R649. This means that the electricity usage would surpass the actual cost of the appliance every six weeks or so.
Somehow, that just doesn’t seem right.
What’s also surprising is how little electricity a television uses.
The electricity consumption of fridges and freezers are more difficult to calculate. The number of times they are opened will impact their performance. However, the average fridge and freezer run for around 10 hours a day and this would set you back between R70 and R80 per month.
Unfortunately, the snowballing of our electricity bills is likely to continue to gain momentum. Eskom plans to ask electricity price regulator Nersa for an additional 20% increase for 2018. If the Joburg Metro passes this on to consumers, the tariff will jump to R1,73 including VAT and my oil heater’s monthly cost will increase to R466.
The reality is that South Africans cannot afford to continue paying these rising costs. I am already looking at solar solutions for daytime electricity usage to reduce my dependence on Eskom electricity. I assume that in the not too distant future, it would also cost only a few months electricity to finance a solar solution. And I am buying shares in Elon Musk’s Tesla as it is not a car company, it is actually an energy company.