SA homes turned off heaters after electricity price hikes

2011-06-02 10:54

Fewer South Africans heated up their homes last year compared with 2009, probably because of a spike in electricity prices, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said today.

Researcher Catherine Schulze said the number of households using electricity for heating dropped from 50.7% in 2009 to 45.6% in 2010, according to the SA Development Index for 2011.

Schulze said this was probably because of an increase in electricity prices. South Africans would rather use their electricity for lighting and cooking.

“So, heating, apparently there’s no money for it, which is why it’s so low,” said Schulze.

South Africans were hit by a 31% hike in electricity prices in 2009/10 and another 24.8% for 2010/11.

SAIRR research manager Lucy Holborn said another factor was a rise in the number of households.

“Demand for services is exceeding supply,” said Holborn.

The SAIRR released the second update for 2011 of the SA Development Index in Johannesburg today. The last index was released in February.

The three-month update again highlighted the need for more service delivery, said Schulze.

The number of households with access to piped water had dropped slightly, from 89.3% in 2009 to 89.2% in 2010.

However, the percentage of households with access to flush toilets went up by 0.4% from 59.5% in 2009 to 59.9% in 2010.

The number of households living in formal dwellings increased from 75.5% in 2009 to 76.9% in 2010.

The index assesses South Africa’s performance across six areas – economy, education, health, living conditions, gender and crime – based on data supplied by Statistics SA.

In the gender sector, the number of professional women employees went up from 321 000 in the first quarter of 2010 to 328 000 in the first quarter of 2011.

Most of the areas remained relatively stable in the update, with a slight increase in education levels. The number of adults with higher education had increased from 5.01% in 2009 to 5.34% in 2010.

The biggest jump in that sector was the proportion of the population, aged over 15, who had no difficulty reading. It went up from 91.6% in 2009 to 97.4% in 2010.

Holborn said the SAIRR would query these numbers with Stats SA because the increase seemed “unbelievable”.

“It is something that needs to be looked into. They [Stats SA] generally get things right more than they get it wrong ... but we have, in the past, raised things with them.”

Overall, the update showed a slight increase in development levels – from a score of 101.66 in February to a score of 101.95 in the second quarter of 2011.

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