Dishwashers, induction stoves and washing machines worsen SA electricity woes - study

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  • A recent study has found that the residential sector consumers significant amounts of electricity. 
  • Certain appliances such as dishwashers, induction stoves and washing machines are the biggest power guzzlers. 
  • The study also found that very few households used LEDs, which are more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs and compact florescent lights. 

SA residences are guzzling electricity during peak times – and the top culprits are dishwashers, induction stoves and washing machines.

This is according to a recent study by the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) in partnership with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the University of Cape Town (UCT), titled Residential Electricity Consumption in South Africa, which revealed that during peak periods, the residential sector can account for up to 35% of national electricity demand.

Teslim Yusuf, Data and Knowledge Management Project Manager at SANEDI, says by contrast globally, the residential sector consumes one-fifth of the world's energy.

The study fingered household appliances such as dishwashers, induction stoves and washing machines as the biggest energy consumers.

While dishwashers can be more energy efficient than handwashing, this is only true for a fully loaded dishwasher – and for many households, the dishwasher is likely to be part-loaded most of the time.

Induction stoves, meanwhile, often consume large amounts of standby power and ultimately may consume more energy than an equivalent thermal plate. Induction plates also typically have a poor power factor.

A washing machine's energy efficiency is typically measured based on energy used during its longer cycles, and the researchers say these are very rarely used in practice. The more popular shorter and convenient cycle times tend to be hotter and less energy efficient.

There were some positive developments for energy efficiency, however. The study found that SA's Standards and Labelling (S&L) Programme has been effective in achieving meaningful savings in appliance energy consumption between 2015 and 2020.

The highest energy savings were seen more prevalently in low- and middle-income homes.

"From the research sample, 98.1% of households reported owning at least one fridge, and 24% of households reported owning more than one. It stands to reason that massive energy savings can be gained from these appliances," said Yusuf.

In high-income homes, savings in water heating were dominant but was closely followed by refrigeration.

There was room for improvement in lighting. The study found that very few households used LEDs, which are more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs and compact florescent lights, in 2020.

"This indicates a large potential for improving the energy efficiency of lighting. The VC9109 draft lighting regulation, once adopted, aims to remove less efficient lamps from the market," said Yusuf.

In the short term, and in order to change lamp purchasing behaviour towards LEDs, the study recommended that along with power, luminous efficacy should become a primary performance indicator on lamp packaging.

This should be supported by long-term, in-store information campaigns.

"Energy efficiency must be considered at the individual level, if we are to achieve our country's energy efficiency targets," said Yusuf.


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