As an owner of a property in South Africa, its important to understand how prepaid meters work and the cheapest way to buy electricity in South Africa.
Electricity in South Africa is provided by Eskom or the relevant municipality like the City of Tshwane or City of Johannesburg – with each provider setting their own tariffs, within National Energy Regulator (NERSA) guidelines.
Prepaid Electricity is an electric plan that allows customers to control electricity use by paying before using electricity. Consumers can track usage, load credit remotely, and decrease the possibility of bill shock due to leakages or incorrect monitoring.
The average cost of a prepaid unit of electricity is as little as R1,24 or over R2,85 depending on the location of your property. Some providers work on ‘volume-based’ pricing (Incline Block Tariff).
They can make payments in smaller, frequent increments. This prevents their falling into debt, which can compound in a post-paid arrangement.
How does a prepaid electricity meter work?
The cost of your prepaid electricity will vary depending on where you live. If you get your electricity directly from Eskom, you will be charged according to a different system than if you get your electricity from a municipality.
Each municipality has its own system, for example, in Cape Town people with homes valued at over R1m pay a basic home user charge that covers the cost of keeping them connected, no matter how much power they use.
Municipalities across the country have different tariff systems depending on how much a household uses in a month; and different municipalities charge different rates for a unit of electricity. So it’s important to check what your own municipal system is.
Benefits of Prepaid Meters
- Prepaid Meters in South Africa provide more control over the amount of electricity consumed.
- Payments are free of interest.
- Budget in advance so there are no surprise bills at the end of the month.
- You can top up via cell phone/laptop – what could be easier?
- Most metering companies have great support staff and accommodating terms to make sure you are never left in the dark
Cons of Prepaid Meters
- You may not always have access to the cheapest tariffs since prepayment meters are quite a bit more expensive to operate than other meters.
- You must maintain your account balance at or above the disconnection balance, otherwise, your service may get disconnected.
- If you’re going away, you have to remember to make sure your account has enough credit so you don’t lose power while you’re away.
The cheapest way to buy prepaid electricity
There are many ways to save money and conserve electricity without working too hard at it. You’ll notice that your bill drops dramatically once you implement better electricity habits and choose a cheap electricity plan. Some important things to know about the cheapest ways to buy electricity in South Africa:
Buying in bulk is not cheaper
Incline Block Tariff (IBT) means the more electricity you buy in a month, the more you pay per unit of electricity. This means that electricity is one of the rare cases where it’s really not a good idea to buy in bulk. Rather buy from week to week, or buy just enough at the beginning of each month to keep you going. It’s cheaper to top up with a few units at the end of each month than to buy enough to last you for two months.
Buy a Geyser Timer
A geyser timer is a consistent way to ensure that your geyser remains off during peak electricity demand periods. What you should know is that your geyser is fundamentally a giant kettle. The energy going into your geyser is for two things – to heat up the cold water that comes into your geyser when you draw hot water, and to replace heat loss from the geyser to the environment around it. By only heating the water just before you need it, heat loss to the environment is kept to a minimum.
Use your appliances less
Using energy more efficiently is good for the planet and your wallet. Appliances like TV, Dishwashers, and Kettles should only be turned on when you need to use them. Fridges, freezers, and alarm systems are the only things in most houses that need to be on all the time.
Close the blinds
The sun warms up your home by letting light (and heat) through the window. Instead of dropping the temperature on your thermostat, start shutting the blinds every day when you leave for work. You’ll keep the warm air out. In the winter, leave your blinds open to help warm your home.
Use LED Lighting
LED lights can reduce your lighting energy consumption by 90 percent. This can save you quite a bit of money long-term!
Use Cold Water for your washing machine
Do you do your laundry using hot water? This is not uncommon, but it is also a cause for higher electric bills. Your washer’s energy consumption can be 90 percent less if you use cold water instead of hot. This is due to the decreased cost of heating the water. A cost-saving method to definitely consider!