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Eskom-osaurus of the ice age

10 December 2012, 16:39

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them; Einstein once proclaimed as he tried solving mathematical problems he created himself, leading me to believe that the right motivation can enlighten an individual beyond that awareness.

With Eskom and Governments’ apparent inability to protect my interest, I will only have myself to blame for believing they will acquire the capacity in my lifetime to do so. I have therefore decided to commit myself to myself and use my capacity to change my habits and enlighten myself beyond my awareness and secure my own energy future.

The topic at hand is electricity and the intended outcome is the efficient use of that electricity. So I have devised through extensive research an action plan on how to rid myself of the dependency on Eskom’s supply, but still utilizing it to my advantage, as it remains the cheapest source available to me.

The nature of the problem springs from my own lack of knowledge, my poor energy usage habits and also Eskom’s total lack foresight. I cannot be true to my objectivity by blaming Eskom, without firstly scrutinizing my own part in this relationship. I have since come to realize that my energy security starts with me on the micro level before I can attempt the macro.

The key to sustainability is efficiency and effectiveness and there is a distinct difference between the two. Firstly, I had to define and identify the problem, analyze that problem, identify possible solutions, pick the best suited one, evaluate that solution, create and action plan and lastly implement that solution.

I followed the steps above and identified the problem as being dependent on Eskom supply and fossil fuel energy sources, I also studied my usage habits and found that listing my appliances according to their usage will give me a good indication of where I will be able to affect the most effective efficiency.

I found that over 40% of my electricity usage came from my geyser, which I actually did not even consider as an appliance at first, followed by my cleaning appliances such as tumble dryer and dishwasher, then cooking and lastly lighting and entertainment.

I considered many solutions and decided that I will make use of solar (PV) in conjunction with Eskom to make my electricity source more sustainable in a very unique way I will discuss another time. The capital cost associated with the PV system was the most expensive part and was directly dependent on the capacity required by my current usage habits, so in order for me to minimize the capital outlay I had to firstly improve my efficiency so as to not need an excessive solar system.

Starting with the most energy intensive appliance, the geyser, I considered the options available to me, but found very limited options that would suite my financial and structural needs. I could not justify the solar geyser purely based on its capital cost and space requirement on my roof where I needed the solar PV panels; also a heat pump did not merit the capital investment in lieu of my holistic plan, so I settled for a Turbo HeatXchanger that fit into my geyser, replacing the element and an efficient shower head as I mentioned in a previous article.

The results have since been amazing and by all indications I have already reduced this past week’s energy requirement for water heating by nearly half of what it was. This means a total saving of nearly 20% on my utility bill and a 20% reduction on the requirements of my solar system I will need.

The next efficiency consideration is more difficult, because it entails me totally changing my usage habit. Instead of packing the dishwasher and using the tumble dryer every time we decided that we will only use these appliances twice out of every three times we would normally use them, possibly gaining another 33% saving on the electricity usage of these two appliances. I will wait another week and see how that pans out.

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