Daily power cuts tripled in 2023: SA government must deploy subsidised smart tech solutions in evolutionary next step to maximise energy efficiency in 2024

According to the latest data sets from the Outlier, South Africans were forced to endure the highest degree of loadshedding on record last year. In 2022, citizens experienced 205/365 days of loadshedding – mostly between stages 1 and 4. While glaring, this pales in comparison to 2023, with daily blackouts across 335 days, comprising mostly stage 3 to 6 levels of loadshedding.

Not only does this indicate a shocking 73% increase in power cuts year on year, but the number of times the power has gone off each day has almost tripled.

While our national government has developed the appropriate legislation to promote the uptake of solar power with tax rebates on solar panels (offering buyers a potential 25% rebate on the cost of new and used solar panels), little has been done to promote the roll-out of smart geyser devices, capable of decreasing electricity consumption in our homes by up to 30-40%.

The installation of smart geyser devices on our electric geysers allows for user monitoring and control (via an accompanying app). The technology also plays well with others and can be installed alongside any existing solar power solution. Beyond energy monitoring, these devices have the added benefit of detecting potential water leaks, drastically reducing the risk of burst geysers (thereby decreasing costly repairs and elevated insurance premiums).

“A smart geyser device, including installation, costs approximately R3300. A household with 4 people will, on average, spend around R1000 per month on their electricity bill, but with a smart geyser device you can decrease that bill. Homeowners can lower the set-point temperature of their geysers or choose a more efficient heating schedule, and secure between R300 – R400 of cost savings monthly due to maximised energy efficiency. Ultimately this means that the smart geyser device will pay for itself in just 8 months” shares Mark Allewell, Founder & CEO at Sensor Networks.

“While this makes the smart technology more accessible than people would imagine, national government would be well advised to take the same steps as the City of Cape Town, by subsidising the roll-out of these devices to all 7 million electric geysers in SA. That, or offer a tax rebate on the device, similar to the incentives we’ve seen for solar installations across the country” concludes Allewell.

If subsidised and installed across all 7 million electric geysers in our country, smart geyser devices could reduce the strain on our national grid by the equivalent of an entire level of loadshedding (allowing stage 2 blues to shift towards a begrudging acceptance of stage 1).

Whether it is a subsidised rollout or tax incentivised push, a large-scale drive for better demand-side management could help address South Africa’s energy insecurity as a whole. Instead of solely focusing on the problem at the point of generation, smart tech solutions that exist along the edges of our daily lives can contribute to improved efficiency throughout the entire system.