Electricity consumption to increase at homes due to Lockdown – MUT senior lecturer

Press statement: Bheki Hlophe –  082 432 1805                                           4 May 2020

For immediate release

Electricity consumption to increase at homes due to Lockdown – MUT senior lecturer

The national Lockdown that South Africa is currently experiencing will, according to MUT Electrical Engineering Senior Lecturer, Dr Papy Numbi, have a negative impact on household electricity consumption.

The rise in household electricity consumption could have a major impact on the electricity load, given South Africa’s history of load shedding of electricity during the high consumption winter season.

Dr Numbi, whose research focuses on alternative renewable energy sources to electricity, said that households can expect their electricity consumption to increase as a result of family members being at home throughout the day for the extended period.

“The increase in the electricity consumption is due to our behavioural change, which has impacted our load (electricity consumption) profile. In the past (during normal situations), most energy consumption occurred during the morning peak hours (say from 05h00 to 07h00), when we need hot water and cooking before going to work, and during the early evening (say from 17h00 to 20h00) after work, when we need cooking, hot water, air conditioning and watch TV,” said Dr Numbi.

Dr Numbi said that staying at home 24 hours a day has changed the consumption profile.  Most electricity consumption does not occur in the morning and early evening anymore, but it also happens during the day as many individuals take advantage of the time they have at their disposal as a result of the restriction of movement. “One maybe want to watch TV from morning till night, one can now cook several times, one can now be in need of hot water for many hours,” said Dr Numbi.

The biggest household electricity consumers, according to Dr Numbi, are air conditioner, geyser, stove and pool pump. But this does not mean that the other smaller items will not add a dent to the household consumption.  “Small electricity consumers such as lights can also lead to high electricity consumption if these are left ON for long hours, especially during this period where all family members stay home for 24hours,” explained Dr Numbi.

But there are behavioural changes that we can introduce to reduce our household consumption. For cooking, Dr Numbi suggests cooking once a day. “One can cook a lot of food in the morning, keep in the fridge and warm it whenever needed. This will save electricity cost of using the stove,” he said.

As for cooling and heating the house, Dr Numbi advises: “Open your windows and doors to allow fresh and cool air into the house and try to switch OFF the air-conditioner to save electricity cost. If you have a fan, use this rather as it consumes less power. Also, avoid using your heater as much as you can. You can always use a good blanket to warm yourself up, during the night.”

In terms of heating water for household use, Dr Numbi suggests an hour for a family of three and two hours for a family of more than three. “Use a programmable digital timer to switch ON your geyser automatically, only from 06h00 to 07h00 for a household of three people, and from 06h00 to 08h00 for a household of more than three people,” he said. “If need be, switch ON your digital timer manually in the evening for an hour.”

The pool pump should only be switched on when needed, and incandescent lights should be replaced by compact fluorescent lights and switched OFF during the day, advises Dr Numbi. “Always keep your fridge closed,” he said.

Being vigilant with electricity usage could save households money and spare South Africa from the ever-looming threat of load shedding this winter.


Bheki Hlophe (Mr)
Publications and Media Relations officer: Marketing & Communications
Mangosuthu University of Technology
T: +27 31 907 7195  M: +27 61 283 2257
E: Hlophe@mut.ac.za