Yes, you can beat Eskom hikes

Jan 24 2013 14:19

Electricity pylons in Beaufort West. Nersa is holding public hearings on Eskom's proposed revenue price determination. (Picture: Chris Kirchhoff/MCSA)

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Cape Town - Business owners are facing yet another threat to their profitability: electricity price increases. This at a time when businesses have to work harder to survive a tough trading environment.

But according to Kobus Engelbrecht, marketing head of Sanlam Business Market, business owners can turn this potential predicament into a cost-saving opportunity. 

“Business owners should make the most of this threat by streamlining their businesses. Start off by rethinking your whole operation, looking at all the business processes, from start to finish.

"That includes client procurement, your manufacturing and delivery processes, and so forth. Once you've identified them all, ask yourself how you could make each of these more efficiently.”

Then draw up a plan of action, making staff responsible for implementing the energy-saving actions. Jannie Rossouw, head of Sanlam Business Market, says the plan must include daily assessments of your electricity meter.

“If you can measure your usage, you can manage your usage. So find your municipality meter, and take a reading every day.

"On those days when you use more, review why that is the case, then cut something out.”

A major cost saving can be made through better water management. Statistics show that 60% of power usage can go to heating water. “Ask yourself if you need hot water in all the processes that you currently are using it.

"Is cold water not enough? If you do require hot water, look at solar water geysers and heat pumps.”

Engelbrecht says businesses are worried about the potential power increases, as many are just recovering after the global recession. Eskom is requesting a 16% price increase every year until March 2018, starting this year.

That would double the electricity price from 61 cents a kilowatt-hour today, to 128c by 2018. As it is, prices have nearly quadrupled from the 16.2c it cost in 2006.

The National Energy Regulator is currently deciding whether to grant Eskom the hikes.

According to Rossouw, there is a range of energy-saving products available to help streamline a business. “Make use of air conditioners and photocopiers that can automatically switch to a power-saving mode. Service and clean your equipment frequently.

"Use energy saving bulbs like Compact Fluorescent Lamps, which use just 20% of the power of normal bulbs, and last six times longer. Switch off those lights you’re not using. And make use of motion detectors to switch on lights in the evening when you’re not at work, to offer security.”

Rossouw says that before buying energy-saving products, business owners should calculate how quickly the cost of the product will be covered by the potential saving. “For example, it could cost R16 000 to buy a solar water geyser. But if you don’t use much hot water, it could take you 10 years to make that money back.”

He says energy-saving plans need not be expensive. “On average, South Africa still has a wastage mentality. That’s why, by implementing practical tips, you could enjoy major cost savings, with only a small investment.”  

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eskom  |  entrepreneurs  |  electricity tariffs


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