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Which appliance zaps the most money from your wallet?

Eskom’s mad tariff spikes will force consumers to look at the sun.

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
Geyser 4000 120  R217,90  R691,11 4 hrs/day  R23,04
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
Heater 1500 180  R122,57  R388,75 6 hrs/day  R12,96
Wall mounted heater 400 180  R32,68  R103,67 6 hrs/day  R3,46
Stove 7500 30  R102,14  R323,96 1 hr/day  R10,80
TV 55 150  R3,75  R11,88 5 hrs/day  R0,40
Pool pump 400 60  R10,89  R34,56 2 hrs/day  R1,15
Fridge 180 300  R24,51  R77,75 10 hrs/day  R2,59
Freezer 200 300  R27,24  R86,39 10 hrs/day  R2,88

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.

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Great article Ryk. The parasitic practices of Eskom should be discussed in a national debate. As you state, this looting can’t be allowed. The criminal board of Eskom is pricing themselves out of the market. Under the previous government we had the cheapest electricity in the world, now Eskom is the most expensive.

This Eskom parasite has long, wiry tentacles that reaches into every building in the country to suck the life out of the economy and food off our tables. The worst of all is the fact that NERSA is protecting and enabling this monster.

The ANC is looting the country through Eskom. We need a new revolution to free us from Eskom. Electricity Freedom Fighters stand for the privatization of Eskom.

The above little ‘scenario’ just proves beyond any shadow of a doubt just how clueless the average Saffer is when it comes to energy usage and hence them being extravagantly wasteful. Anyone using power as in the above example deserves to get it good and hard – in the wallet.
My elec usage is 320-400kWh for 2 adults living in a 3 bdrm home with (almost) all mod cons. The bill comes too R480-R600, maybe a bit more in winter. That’s like GBP30

Lets take a look: geyser: 150kl, set too 55degC. We almost always shower. Use a low flow shower head, less hot water. It’s in the roof – in summer the roof space easily gets hotter than the water temp in the geyser, so the thermostat is off 90% of the time for at least 9-10 months of the year.

Washing machine: get an energy efficient one. Run shorter cooler cycles with a full drum.

Tumble dryer: why, in our sunny, dry, semi desert climate does anyone need one of these, let alone run it for 15 hours a month??? Use a drying rack when it rains FFS!! Like I said, clueless.

Oil heater: Sell it and get a gas heater, it’s way cheaper, or use one of those fan space heaters and once warm turn it off.

Wall heater: WTF is that?? Seriously??

TV: 5 hours a day? Turn it, them, off and read a book.

Stove: Seems about right, but get out, braai more.

Pool pump: you run your pump for only 2 hours a day? Really? Good man. Still, I think you’re being a little optimistic there. Try 5 hours average, longer in summer, less in winter.

Fridge: you left out that one. It runs… all day… and all night… Get an energy efficient one and defrost it once in a while. I have a 30yo AEG that still runs fine, could not be a*sed to replace it cos my elec costs are low anyway, but probably adds a good 20% to the bill.

Get LED lamps – I replaced my 50W spots and 60-100W bulbs with 3W ones.

Kettles, Toasters, coffee machines, microwaves, mixermincershredder thingies? no biggie.

The upshot of all this? When the going gets tough, the tough get going – stop kwetching about the costs and think of ways to reduce them, then implement! simple.

Good read. You should have included the fridge and freezer in your calculation. These items run 24/7 (Depending on the loading)

I can give you the figures for my standard fridge/freezer. It is on roughly 50% of the day and when it is on, it draws around 30 watts. So that’s around 0.36 kWh a day. At Gauteng electric prices it costs R0.45 a day to run or R13.80 a month. Please note that older fridges uses a lot more electricity. The ones that are more than 15 years old.

To roast a chicken in the oven costs around R2.50 in electricity.

Good point. I have now included a fridge and freezer in my calculation.

SAffers must also start looking at the Brazilian electric shower. I am seriously considering this as I have seen it work in Brazil and at a trade show.

No geyser needed, just electricity and on-demand. You can get smaller ones for the kitchen sink. Geyser = Eksdom’s bread and butter.

Haha the “suicide shower”.. Those things look dodgy as hell.. at least the pictures of the Brazilian ones do. Apparently some of the Asian countries have got it right and have much safer versions than the Brazilians. I like the idea though, only heat what you need.

Think Ryk’s being a bit generous to Eskom.I’m an Eskom customer and when you include vat,network charges and energy charges 1000kwh would cost me about R1740 per month i.e.R1.74 per kwh.Below 1000 you pay less but the price increases even more above 1000.

Thank you Bruce all those extra’s are outside the ambit of Nersa, who in anycase appears to be a toothless institution.

This is a very useful article and perhaps worth mentioning is the risk of a failing energy distribution system due to lack of maintenance over the last 20+ years.
So the issue is not just about cost but reliable supply.

Thanks for alerting me. I have now included VAT!

Does anybody know whether having a 2nd geyser affects the R606.24 monthly cost or does it stay the same?

That monthly cost is per geyser, but you can get the cost down significantly by making a couple of changes.

My electricity used to be R900 a month, then I installed triple geyser blankets, pipe insulation, a new thermostat (my old one got stuck in the permanent on position) and set the temp to 57 degrees. I also installed a geyser timer. My electric bill is now R400 a month.

My practical experience over the past 8 years:
The best and cheapest way to start saving e is to cook on gas.Get a decent built in 4 plate gas stove.leave the oven. Gas ovens do not work well.
The next best is to get a gas geyser.Despite what the solar people say ,gas is much more practical cheaper and reliable. Work better in warm parts of country though.Price of e has tripled while I pay 40% less for gas today taken over same period. we 2 in house and gas costs us R80-R120 per month for 4 showers per day depending on season.
Solar components are extremely expensive to buy and to install and batteries do not last.Panels are only 25% effective.I have compared solar/gas figures with my family in JHB. Gas much cheaper.

Nice article… Just some changes

Pool pump is 750 to 1100 Watt for 5hrs per day conservatively
Lights are not an appliance per se but bank on 6x10watt for 10hrs per day
A home computer would be around 250-400 watt for 6 hrs per day. Laptop probably around 150 watt depending on the type
Underfloor heating is a killer at around 2500 watt for 4hrs per day

I have all the gadgets to save on electricity. Even when I travel only the fridge is left on yet I continue to be charged the same amount. The KwaDukuza Municipality cannot give a correct reason.

End of comments.





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