The slickest, easiest way to currently get the answer to when will you be load shed on a particular day is by downloading the quite frankly well written local load shedding schedule app, EskomSePush. (We will all agree to look past the juvenile joke name, okay?)
Written by Dan Wells and Herman Maritz a handful of years ago, EskomSePush is an extremely user friendly tool that does little more than ask you to download and install the app on your phone, click on the plus button to bring up the location search, and then select the location that you are interested in. The resulting screen then gives you a nice concise view of what your load shedding schedule looks like (across any of Eskom’s seemingly limitless stages) for any particular upcoming day.
The app is easy to read, sends warning push notifications when needed, and is simple enough that most people should get the hang of it. For my part, it works like a charm and its load shedding reporting has yet to fail me, meaning that our rolling blackouts by another name still hasn’t caught me with my pants around my ankles and no torch in sight.
British presenter and tech personality Tom Scott dives a bit into just why the British plug is considered such a superior and safe design as opposed to some of the other power plugs around the world.
If you couldn’t be bothered watching the video, here’s the run down as to why the British plug is so good:
Prong Design: Like standard U.S. grounded plugs, the U.K. wall plug has three prongs. But the design of these prongs makes it nearly impossible for you to shock yourself accidentally. Unlike in U.S. plugs, half of each prong is coated in insulation. Because of this, even if a plug is not fully inserted into a socket, touching the exposed part of the prongs can’t give you a shock.
Socket Design: Any kid with a fork or a screwdriver can light his hair on fire in the United States by jamming it into a wall socket. Not so in England, where it would take at least two screwdrivers to manage the same calamitous trick. The U.K. plug is designed so that the grounding prong is slightly longer than the prongs responsible for transferring current. Like a tumbler in a lock, this grounding prong is responsible for “unlocking” the socket, giving access to the more dangerous live and neutral terminals.
Built-In Fuses: During World War II, a copper shortage resulted in the British government putting fuses into every plug, instead of wiring them directly. Although the built-in fuse adds bulk to the U.K. plug design, it’s also safer: In case of an unexpected electrical surge, the fuse simply blows and the electricity shuts off, preventing fires, electrocutions, and other accidents. It also makes U.K. plugs easier to fix.
Circuit Design: Finally, there’s the wiring inside the plug itself. Not only is it extremely intuitive, but it has been thoughtfully designed so that if the plug is tugged and the wiring frays, the live and neutral wires are the first to become disconnected, while the grounding wires—the ones responsible for preventing human electrocution when they come in contact with a circuit—are the last to fray.
Clever. Hurts like hell if you step on it though.
Related Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEfP1OKKz_Q
If you live in South Africa then the reality is that load shedding is here to stay for quite a bit longer – particularly as the energy demand starts spiking when the really cold winter weather starts kicking in! So with Eskom unable to meet our electricity demands and saddled with the responsibility of keeping the national grid up and running, we may as well get comfortable and start knowing our load shedding schedules and status.
This invaluable tool is a proper lifesaver when it comes to planning around and dealing with load shedding. Essentially it constantly updates itself with all the latest load shedding schedule databases from around the country, reacts in real time to sudden load shedding status changes, and pretty much lets you know whenever a break in your power supply is going to be happening.
By allowing you to save areas of interest like ‘Home’, ‘Work’ or say even ‘Gym’, you know exactly when and where you can expect power breaks to be, and with handy push notifications sent whenever necessary, you are pretty much guaranteed not to get a nasty surprise when the lights go out just as you pulled closed the office toilet door in anticipation for some much needed alone time.
It’s a clever, visually intuitive app that gives you all the information you need, and if you are a South African living in South Africa – well then you would be silly not to currently have it installed on your phone!
(I’ve had mine installed pretty much straight after it was released at the end of March! Haven’t looked back since…)
Related Link: GridWatch on Google Play Store
Needless to say, we’re in that horrible situation of dreaded load shedding once again, which means it is pretty handy to be able to quickly locate the Eskom load shedding schedule once those Princes of Darkness announce that the lights are indeed going to go out.
Essentially there are two cases here – either you get your electricity directly from Eskom, or you receive via your municipality.
First things first, access Eskom’s dedicated load shedding site at http://loadshedding.eskom.co.za/. If you are a direct Eskom customer, you can search for your suburb/area and get the results directly from the source. If your search turns up no results, it is then suggested that you are perhaps a municipal customer and get a link to http://www.eskom.co.za/Pages/loadsheddingmunic.aspx.
To be honest, I’m only really interested in the City of Cape Town load shedding schedule, and that site then gives you a handy area color-coded map and corresponding table, all of which then tells you exactly when the power is going to be off.
Useful in other words, unless of course your power is already off. In that case schedule look-ups be damned!
[UPDATE] Eye Witness News (EWN) also has a pretty nifty load shedding tool available on their site.
I’m a fan of buying electricity online or via SMS versus trudging through to a Spar or petrol station and getting some prepaid electricity the old fashioned manual way. For the last while I’ve been using ibuy.co.za for all my online electricity purchasing needs, but when my credit card recently expired and they wouldn’t allow me to quickly add a new one via the portal interface, I turned away from them and started looking out for alternatives.
The latest one which is quite pleasing to me is myPrepaid.co.za, which breaks down the process of buying electricity online through them into three simple steps. First, register an account on their system and link your meter number to that account. Second, create a beneficiary under your online banking account. Finally, whenever you need electricity simply make an EFT payment to that beneficiary you created at the start of the process, and your electricity tokens will be sent through to you via e-mail, or you can log into the portal and grab them from there.
So far so good, meaning that it looks like I’ve found my replacement for ibuy.co.za!
Related Link: http://www.myprepaid.co.za
American artist Khary Randolph (Kharupt) has been in the cartooning and illustration business for over ten years now, and has in the process worked on a huge number of clients in the animation, advertising and comic book space, leaving his mark on dozens of popular franchises like Spider-man, Wolverine and the X-Men, Hellboy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Boondocks and Teen Titans to name but a few.
Today’s artist sketch takes one of the more popular characters to arise out of the short lived Milestone DC imprint, none other than the electricity generating smart alec of a kid Virgil, better known as Static Shock! (Who even managed to wangle his own animated cartoon in the process).
So after a great Friday spent with the colleagues at the official Touchwork Lunch and Team-build event, the rest of the weekend luckily filled up with just as enjoyable activities, despite the fact that Chantelle was on duty for the weekend, and the whole of Gordon’s Bay was without electricity for the entire duration of Sunday, due to scheduled Municipal maintenance.
After serving breakfast to her guests come Saturday morning, Chantelle came home to free me from the shackles of looking after Jessica, as wifey and the little one headed off on a Kuilsriver adventure to attend Michelle’s Stork Party, giving me some breathing space to head out and purchase some more cobblestone pavers for the driveway project I currently have underway, and of course a moment to actually sit through and sort out our medical expenses for taxation purposes. Fun times I tell you.
Anyway, on their eventual return from Kuilsriver the two of them swung by to pick me up for a quick spot of Pick n Pay shopping, before dropping me off again with a tired and hungry Jessie-bean to contend with. 16:00 rolled on in and it was back to action stations as I grabbed together everything Chantelle had assigned to my list, grabbed Jessica and hit the road towards Gordon’s Beach Lodge, arriving just as the first of our braai time guests for the evening were piling out of their cars!
On her own initiative, Chantelle had gone and invited Ingrid, Chris and the kids, Maria, Wayne and the kids, and Sanette and her young one to come and join us at the guest house for a late afternoon braai, meaning of course that I had been contracted in to put on my heat resistance gloves, don my champion braaier apron and pick up my dual wielded tongs once more.
What followed was a fantastic evening of kuier, wine and braai (with homemade malva pudding and custard for dessert!) on what turned out to be a beautiful evening, with things only really drawing to a close well past 22:00 (if that sounds early, remember, we all have kids!), and Sanette and Ruth opting to sleep over instead of making the trip over the mountain to get back home.
As for us, it was also a first because little Jessie who had been a real star on the night and a favourite amongst the girls, had been allowed to go to sleep in one of the rooms at the guest house, meaning that after we had cleared everything away and locked up for the night, we had to pick her up, take her down the steps, get her in the car, and then put her into her cot back at home, all without waking her! Which, by the way we did, meaning that from here on out, we now that the green light for late night visits with the friends again! :)
As I mentioned earlier, Sunday was to be a day without power, and so I was rudely awoken at 06:00 when the power supply was cut, thanks to Jessica’s baby monitor going off its head. With no real options in terms of warm breakfast available to Jessie and I, except for her milk bottles which we had prepared the evening before (wow, flasks are far more efficient than what I thought), the two of us decided to join Chantelle, and her guests for breakfast, enjoying some tasty toasted cheese sarmies with coffee for me, and steaming hot Cerelac porridge for Jessie! (Gas cooking. Pretty damn useful at times.)
Having cleverly thought this out after having received the notice from the Municipality earlier during the week, I had made the call to alleviate our potential boredom on the day by organising a Lotter and Montgomery clan get together at the guest house for a braai (yes, another one), and so after a lengthy morning period at the guest house helping a guest transfer music to her knock-off MP3 player, I eventually slipped out to Pick n Pay to restock up on the braai necessities, before taking a couple of minutes to do some blogging on the laptop in the hopes that Chantelle wouldn’t notice that I had left Jessica fast asleep at the guest house in her care! (Just joking, it was planned. Kind of. I think. Oh, and another thing. My damn laptop’s back light blew in the process! Could definitely have done without that.)
Anyway, it wasn’t long before it was back to guest house and straight into battle with wet wood and loads of charcoal, apron tied tightly around my waist and my red tongs in the hand! The full strength Montgomery clan was with us (in other words Monty, Cheryl and Robert), as was the Lotter clan (sans Claire and Riley would couldn’t make it, meaning the tally included Mom, Pops and Ryan), with the Lotters having arrived in Ryan’s shiny new silver VW Polo Vivo he had just taken into possession off the showroom floor that very week!
Again we enjoyed a fabulous afternoon of catching up, drinking wine (for most of us) and playing with Jessica, after which we enjoyed the braai (which came out well again, much to my relief), followed by some leftover malva pudding and ice-cream from the previous evening to round the meal off!
In the end the two sets of folks stuck around for basically the whole day (the power was only scheduled to come back on after 18:00), with Ryan, Pops and myself even venturing out on the beach to catch the sunset on what had actually turned out to be a fabulous sunny day after a rather gloomy start – which was of course just as well seeing as there wasn’t any electricity to keep us happy had it been a shitty day all the way through! :P
Back home for Jessie and I, and the rest of the evening was again dedicated to putting Jessie down whilst watching Avengers, before the tedious grind of finishing up for the weekend and getting ready for Monday kicked in once more. Horrible as always, but certainly not enough to spoil what was a fantastic weekend of friends and family, that’s for sure! :)
Ahem, if you want to see the rest of the pictures, check out the photo gallery here!
Right, so we all know electricity has become rather expensive as of late. True, as a prepaid customer we’re in a better position than the post-paid guys, mainly because we are more aware of our usage because we’re forced to watch the meter the whole time just to make sure we don’t come home to a dark house and no kettle for coffee.
For some or other reason our electricity usage recently spiked, and unaware as to what the culprit might be, Chantelle and I embarked on a week long investigation and science experiment, whereby we tinkered with various items in terms of periods on and off, recorded meter readings during the day and in general just became very stingy towards our overall electricity usage.
As it turns out, there isn’t very much we can do to save electricity, as what we expected was pretty ratified during this process.
Washing machine, stove, tumble dryer, those all eat a lot of power and in winter, you tend to use those items even more than normal (well, the tumble dryer in any case). I’ve implemented scheduled tasks to automatically shut down all my PCs overnight, and in general the standby mode of the television and blu-ray players doesn’t utilize much at all. Heck, even the little photo frame now gets unplugged at night.
And funnily enough, our lights don’t actually chow all that much.
Also, the geyser isn’t as big a culprit as one might think, and the savings to be had by turning it off and on when needed is pretty negligible when you’re dealing with as small a household as ours.
As for our energy consuming problem child, yup you guessed it, Jessica’s newly installed panel heater was to blame. Even though it is touted as one of the more cost effective heating solutions, cost effective doesn’t mean cheap and it chows through quite a lot of units overnight, meaning we have now had to rethink our strategy and will only use if for those winter nights when the mercury is dipping particularly low. (In other words, thank goodness for living in the mild Cape as opposed to those horrible inland places!)
All in all, it has been a good exercise as we’ve both become more energy aware in the process, and have also learned that those silly energy efficient lightbulbs really aren’t that much more efficient after all! :P
So the 1st of the month has rolled buy and yet another round of Eskom’s outrageous price hikes has kicked in, and I thought I would give you a nice little example of how this big percentage price increase actually kicks you in the balls.
On the 26 June 2011, I bought 186 units for R150. For some or other reason, we burned through those pretty quickly and I needed to buy again, so on the 03 July 2011, I paid in another R200… and received a measly 163 units!
That’s right, for a whole R50 more I received 23 units less!
And of course they decide to do this in the middle of winter, a time when it is common knowledge that a household’s energy consumption is higher than normal!
It’s shameful really.
Sigh, and I really don’t have any other lamps I can replace to those stupid looking energy saver ones…
(Oh, and on that note I’ve found a new website to purchase my electricity through, following PayCity’s disastrous attempts at trying to implement the 3D Secure technology for my credit card. I got tired of phoning up the bank every time the thing failed and have now moved on to PowerTime which so far is treating me pretty well…)