Load shedding affects the way we live, work and play - 4 tips on how to manage the outages

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  • Load shedding has become our new norm and, if we want to survive, we have to find ways around it.
  • Not only does it affect our personal lives but it affects how we work too.
  • Here are some tips to help you beat the load-shedding blues and make it work for you and not against you.

Living with rolling blackouts has changed our lives. We have become more anxious and uncomfortable when we are without power for too long.

Load shedding has made South Africa an interesting and unpredictable country to live in. We are now forced to plan our entire days, and sometimes weeks, in advance to accommodate it and ensure that we aren’t inconvenienced more than we already are.

Work life

When it comes to the way we work, hybrid and remote workers spend time and money commuting to areas with power so they can get the job done.

Cloud-based workspaces are among the solutions teams can rely on to work together even when they’re unable to collaborate in real-time because of load shedding, separate neighbourhoods or different time zones. 

“The real strength of asynchronous communication lies in collaboration. With the right tools, it’s possible for a person to start a project in one office before someone in another country is able to review it and add their feedback,” says Andrew Bourne - regional manager of tech company, Zoho Corp.

A people-centric approach to the use of technology can make collaboration during load shedding and other disruptions as effective as real-time communication.

Alternative power

Solar panels have become a common sight on rooftops in many neighbourhoods as homeowners look for ways to keep the lights on and save on electricity costs.

It’s possible to reduce energy costs and dependence on the grid with a few changes and upgrades, says Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond.

He says features such as skylights and floating staircases let in more light without having to rely on power. He suggests you opt for LED bulbs where possible and use solar lamps in outside areas to illuminate your home, then invest in a battery and inverter so that you can store solar power to use during load shedding or to reduce your dependence on the grid.

READ MORE | 8 expert tips to surviving South Africa’s rising cost of living

More family time

The silver lining many have found with load shedding is its ability to bring us together because without electricity to power the electronics that keep us entertained at home, many people have reverted to more traditional games and activities to pass the time.

Card games are great fun and add some competitive spice to a night in with family or friends. 

Load-shedding-friendly restaurants do well when the power goes off because it is just easier for some people to eat out than to plan their meals around the load-shedding schedules. Some restaurants like selected Radisson hotels still serve hot meals even during load shedding. For those wanting a home-cooked meal, a braai or al fresco salad on the patio may be the best option during a power outage.

Fortunately, South Africa offers plenty of activities that do not require power to enjoy, including browsing your local craft markets, visiting a nature reserve or spending time on the beach during daylight. With regular bouts of load shedding becoming the new normal, more families will be looking for ways to stay entertained without having to worry about the power going off.

The University of Cape Town suggests the following tips to beat the load-shedding blues:

1. Invest in surge protectors, alternate power and insulators for food 

2. Know your schedule and the load-shedding status

3. Be smart with your electronics:

- Working on a computer - Save your work regularly - either manually or by setting up auto-save options in your software. If the power goes out unexpectedly, you won't lose your work.

- Keep your batteries charged - Make sure that your phone, laptop, portable lights and other electronic devices are always charged with enough power to last for the scheduled load shedding interval.

-Just before your load shedding session begins - Turn off all electronic equipment that plugs into wall sockets. Make sure that you flip the switch off at the wall.

- After load shedding - Equipment can be damaged by sudden power surges so protect your gear by waiting until the power has been restored before you switch the plugs back on.

4. Plan ahead for offline work: Keep a list of tasks you can complete without electricity.

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