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Savings can help stokvels beat power cut blues

'Loadshedding forces households to make alternative plans to keep lights on'

Solar panels installed on a roof used to heat water and supply electricity.
Solar panels installed on a roof used to heat water and supply electricity.
Image: 123RF

Keeping up with what stage of blackout you’re on has been shown to have psychological effects on our daily lives. Particularly because it changes with the blink of an eye.

One moment you’re on stage 4 and then an hour later, you’re on stage 6, which means you’re sometimes experiencing four hours without power.

But one thing that doesn’t change is what you can do to make your life a little easier during power cuts.

About two weeks ago minister of electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa rejected ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula’s sentiments that the country would see an end to blackouts before the end of this year. 

Ramokgopa also warned of higher stages of blackouts but said power utility Eskom was working hard to make sure it didn’t happen.

However, we just want our normal lives back.

But until then, we’re all going to need alternative energy solutions.

This week, Stokvel Wednesdays looks at what your group can do to make things easier during power cuts.

FNB stokvels and group savings head Sifiso Nkosi says blackouts have challenged consumers to look at alternative power to keep their lights on.

FNB stokvels and group savings head Sifiso Nkosi.
FNB stokvels and group savings head Sifiso Nkosi.
Image: Supplied

But the cost of alternative energy solutions can be daunting, the risk of losing productivity makes them a more viable option, he says.

Nkosi says this is why group savings initiatives like stokvels could be useful to help stokvel members beat power cut blues.

The cost of living in South Africa keeps rising, and with loadshedding, households are forced to make alternative plans to keep the lights on. This means consumers need to start thinking about smart ways to meet their energy needs in a sustainable manner by saving for back-up power or more long-term alternative energy solutions like solar,” he says.

Group savings vehicles such as stokvels could motivate many to save for the associated costs.

Using stokvels to save up for alternative energy solutions could be a long-term investment that could even make your house more valuable. More importantly, you could save on out-of-pocket costs in the long run.

Its also important for stokvels to ensure theyre working with reputable suppliers, hence the importance of using trusted platforms when looking for products or suppliers.

“In the past few months, the South African government has also said it will help families by giving tax incentives for installing solar panels. This is another benefit to think about.

He shares a few options for those wishing to save or invest in alternative energy solutions:

Inverters: Stokvel members could pool funds to purchase inverters for each member. During power cuts, inverters could be used to power appliances such as a laptop, Wi-Fi, and television.

A stokvel could either buy solutions in bulk to potentially get discounts or make monthly purchases for members on a rotational basis. Depending on the inverters capacity, some can provide power for a few hours to allow you to stay productive at home during blackouts.

Battery back-up system: This is a more sophisticated kind of backup power that is linked to your electrical system. The level of power you get is determined by the batterys storage capacity, which charges when electricity is restored.

This system is typically more expensive than a basic residential generator but less expensive than a full solar installation. If a stokvel receives significant financial contributions, this is an option, and everyone can use the same system.

Solar installation: Members could save money to pay for solar systems every so often. To keep costs down, it may be best to go with a standard installation, and members can always add more solar panels and batteries over time to increase their solar power.

This could help stokvel members get off to a good start with clean energy, while getting necessary reprieve against blackouts.

He said FNB recently launched nav»Energy on the FNB App, which provides education, energy solutions, and financing options.

Here, customers can find solar providers and can purchase alternative energy solutions via the eBucks Shop with cash and eBucks or a combination of the two.

Stokvel Wednesday advises you shop around and compare prices before purchasing as models and prices vary depending on individuals’ needs.

mashabas@sowetan.co.za

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