Power is an essential commodity. Without power, we would not be able to enjoy life as we know it, and we would simply be living as people did in medieval times. Your TV, Washing Machine, Fridge, Pressing Iron, Electric cooker, and Microwave are electronics that you would rather not live without. They make life easy and pleasant. But using these items comes at a cost.
The cost of electricity is something to worry about, especially now that South Africans are faced with a sharp rise in the costs of electricity nationwide. Many people want to know how to calculate their electricity usage, so as to determine whether they are being cheated, or how to know to cut down on electricity expenses.
In this article, we address the issue. We help you understand how to calculate your electricity spending in the paragraphs below.
How Can I calculate my Electricity Spending?
How much you spend on electricity largely depends on where you live. Some municipalities subsidize the costs of electricity, while residents of other cities are charged directly by ESKOM. If you live in Soweto, you are charged directly, but Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and other cities receive the charge from the power company and then pass it on to the residents.
How is electricity measured?
So, how is electricity measured? This is an important question because it is the first step towards understanding how an electricity tariff works. Electricity or electrical power is measured in terms of units, called watts. It is the basic unit of electricity on which your appliances run. If you look closely at the packaging, or sometimes on the underside of the appliances before you buy them you will find that a power rating is written on it. That power rating is how much electricity the appliance needs to function. We will come back to this later in the article.
Electricity Cost Calculator 2023
Most electrical appliances in a household require well over 1,000 watts in order to function properly, which is why we generally calculate electrical power as kilowatts. 1 kilowatt means 1,000 watts. So how is this calculated? Let us use a random example of a 100-watt ceiling fan. If you switch it on and use it for two hours a day for 30 days, you have used 100 watts of power for 60 hours. So what does this mean?
The calculation is quite simple. 100 watts x 60 hours = 6000 watt-hours of electrical energy, which can alternatively be put as 6 kilowatt-hours (kWh). 6KWh is what you will be charged for because of your use of the fan alone. The same goes for other appliances in your house.
What does it mean?
As a general rule, ESKOM charges small users (households in South Africa) based on KiloWatts Hours KWh, as explained in the paragraph above. However, this translates to varying amounts for individuals, depending on where they live. A person living in Soweto could possibly pay higher than a person living in Cape Town, despite the person in Soweto using a lesser amount of electricity.
Another similarity that applies generally is that the cost is calculated in cents per kilowatt. (c/kWh). In most cities and municipalities the threshold is 600KWh, and that seems to be what ESKOM considers to be fair usage. Therefore, if you use less than 600KWh you pay a particular amount per KWh, but when you use more than 600KWh you pay more. The particular amount varies from place to place of course.
How do I calculate how much my appliances cost me to Use?
This is where it might become a bit tricky. It may be difficult to note how much each individual appliance costs you to run, but you might get a decent picture by taking note of the power rating of each appliance. Since most of that information is contained on the packaging of the items, and since you must have thrown out the packaging, we will abide by a general rule; when an item produces much heat, it generally consumes a lot of electricity.
Remember the example of the 100W electric fan? Well, if it runs for 60 hours a month and uses 6000Wh, or 6KWhs, then we can get how much it costs to operate the fan for a month with the following:
Let us say that the user is charged directly by ESKOM, and is a Block one user (less than 600KWh per month.)
The energy charge for Block one users is 153.90 (including VAT)
Therefore, the charge is calculated as 6kWh x 153,90c/kWh = 923.4/100= R9.23
So, with the above example, we can see that it costs R9,23 to run a 100-watt ceiling fan, 2 hours a day for 30 days.
In order to get the exact amount you are spending on electricity per month, it is important to contact your Local Authority so as to know how much your tariffs are. When you have the tariffs, then you can easily calculate based on the tariffs, the exact amounts of money that you spend on electricity, and exactly how much each appliance is costing you.
However, we do not have to wait for ESKOM or the municipality to tell us how to manage our spending. There are a few things that we can do to reduce spending on electricity.
Choose Energy-Saving Appliances
A popular example of how to make savings on electricity is the comparison between the old school light bulbs and the new energy-saving bulbs. If you leave a 100W old school traditional light bulb on for a whole week, which is 168 hours, you would have used about 17 units of electricity. If you pay R1.50c for a unit of electricity, then your spending would be R25.50 just for that bulb alone. But if you purchased a 4W LED energy-saving bulb instead, it would be 0.6 units, which means a saving of R24.”
Use your appliances for Fewer Hours
The second way to save money on your electricity spending is to use your appliances for fewer hours than you are currently using them now. While you may probably need to keep on your Fridges, freezers, and alarm systems, it would help you to reduce your use of your TVs and DVD players, washing machines, pressing irons, and so on.
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