Electricity has always been a topical issue in Zimbabwe. From electricity cost to erratic availability ZESA has usually been a centre of attention given the cardinal role electricity plays in people’s lives. For some time now people have been enjoying uninterrupted power supply. This has largely been due to limited or no industrial activity that has made more power available for domestic use due to the lockdown. However, it seems like in some areas load shedding is slowly creeping back to life. Anyways, let us talk about how you can reduce your power usage. What I will look at works for two broad scenarios namely single-family households and multi-family households (i.e. renting).
Just A Brief Recap Of The Latest Electricity Tariffs Hike
Consumption Band: 1 to 50 kWh (or units)
Under this one, the cost of 1 unit is now ZWL$1.11 (up from ZWL$0.74).
Consumption Band: 51 to 200 kWh (or units)
1 unit now costs ZWL$2.43 (up from ZWL$1.62).
Consumption Band: 201 to 300 kWh (or units)
A single unit now costs ZWL$6.62 (up from ZWL$4.41).
Consumption Band: 301 kWh and above
1 unit now costs ZWL$10.38 (up from ZWL$6.92).
In summary, this means:
The first 50 units now cost ZWL$55.50
The next 150 units now cost ZWL$364.50
The next 100 units now cost ZWL$662
The first 200 units are now at ZWL$420
The first 300 units are now at ZWL$1082
Take Note: These totals exclude levies such as for REA – Rural Electrification Agency.
Reducing Your Power Usage
Energy-Efficient Gadgets Or Appliances
The quest for environmentally sustainable solutions to everyday problems is a big deal nowadays. That is why there is a wide range of energy-efficient gadgets or appliances on the market. For instance, LED lights are more energy-efficient than the traditional types of bulbs. In fact, LED lights are said to consume as much as 75 per cent less power than incandescent bulbs – the traditional types of light bulbs. You will even find that there are energy-efficient stoves, refrigerators, stereos, and so on. If you are yet to purchase electrical and electronic devices lookout for energy rating specs when you buy.
Switch Off Or Remove From Standby Mode
Wherever possible always switch off anything that uses power when it is not in use. This starts from light bulbs to literally anything in the home. I have noticed that people are more conscious of devices or appliances that use elements as heavy power consumers. This they do whilst trivializing everything else thus you will find people leaving most things on thinking it is no big deal. However, those devices can actually consume significant amounts of power over time. Cultivate a habit of switching off switches (when not in use) – make it a household mantra – SOS (switch off switches).
Another important thing you must know is about the standby mode. Many people leave most of their appliances on standby mode. Actually, most modern-day appliances have that mode. I am referring to appliances such as microwaves, televisions sets, stereos, and so on. Let me show you how much of a big deal power used during standby mode is. In the US, it is said that every year 12 power stations’ worth of power is lost through leaving things in standby mode. To become more conscious of this and ensure that you do not leave things unnecessarily on or on standby.
Use Alternative Power Sources
Most of you are quite aware of processes that consume lots of power. We are talking about things like ironing, cooking on the stove, electric fans and heaters, just to mention a few. Wherever possible use alternative power sources to save on power. In place of an electric heater, use the fireplace; in place of the electric iron, you can use a charcoal one. When cooking things that take time and need more power, you can use the fire or an LP gas stove. When you want to boil water using either gas stoves or fire.
To Give You Perspective
I know of a single-family household that consumes less than 200 units of electricity every month. By the way, the area they live in has power 24/7. They cook the basic 3 meals per day using the stove. They bake home-made bread 3 or 4 times a week. They do all their ironing using an electric iron. The only thing they use fire for is boiling bathing water. However, they at times can do that using the electric water boiling jug. They are a family of 4 adults and one child (who recently turned 5). This family shows us that what ZESA says that 200 units are more than enough for an average single family is actually true.
As for multiple-family households – scenarios where people are renting at one place, it gets tricky. This is because policing each other’s individual power usage is a murky and contentious issue. However, collaboration is the best way to go if multiple-family households are to achieve anything regarding the reduction of power consumption.
Overall you are going to have to change your lifestyle. For instance, to avoid frequent use of the microwave cultivate a culture of preparing food as and when you want to eat it. One other thing that I urge you to do is to track your power usage. Take time to study and approximate your daily power usage. Compare to things you would have done so that you draw insights on your power usage. If you do this you might discover remarkable insights you never had an idea of.