When regular, mandated load shedding first hit South Africa in 2007, there was an outcry as we tried to wrap our heads around the concept of having no electricity for two hours a day.
The concept was completely foreign. How would we cook? How would we warm babies’ bottles? How would children do homework and study for tests and exams?
Fast forward 15 years and Stage 1 load shedding is shrugged off as just a normal occurrence. In fact, when Eskom announces this lowest level of load shedding, we barely flinch. Even at Stage 2 we carry on as if life is normal – and it is; it has become our normal.
When the level starts increasing to Stage 3 and beyond, however, our lives become more severely impacted. We are highly inconvenienced. And once the power returns and we start carrying on with our usual daily or night routines, it switches off again.
Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about load shedding, beyond trying to save electricity where we can to ease the strain on the national grid. We just have to find ways to deal with it.
However, now that many of us are working from home – whether for a company or managing our own businesses, it has become essential to equip ourselves with gadgets and other electronic devices to keep working.
These are some recommended household items to keep a sense of normality when the power goes off:
Although most modern cell phones have longer battery lives and charge much quicker, it is highly likely that you will be able to fully charge your phone shortly before your allotted load shedding period. And your device should be able to keep up its charge throughout the two-hour slots.
It does not hurt, however, to have a fully charged power bank or two in the house in case you forget to charge before load shedding strikes, or in case the outage triggers another electrical fault in your area and your power does not come back on for a long period of time.
A non-electrical kettle
These appliances may have been used in what many of us would call the ‘olden days’, but they have made a strong come-back as a result of load shedding. Usually made of stainless steel, they can be heated up on either a stove plate – when there is power, or a gas stove or fire when there is no electricity.
The novelty of such kettles is that they whistle when the water is boiled.
As South Africans we know how to cook outdoors, whether it is over a wood or charcoal braai, or a gas braai such as our much-loved skottel. And we don’t limit ourselves to just meat either.
We can make potjies, curries or stews, pap, and even bread.
If you do not yet have a gas cooker for outdoor meal preparation, you could consider investing in one such as this.
And if you are in need of a gas canister, have a look at this one.
As South Africans we are also used to outdoor lifestyles, and have no problem cooking and entertaining outside. In fact, many of us prefer it.
Having sufficient light to allow us to relax or socialise outside in the pitch black of night is, however, a necessity, and there are numerous options for outdoor lighting.
As much as we loved the outdoors, load shedding often kicks in when we need to be inside the house; kids need to do homework, parents may need to work, or we may need to get children ready for bed. Even if we are all fast asleep in the early hours of the morning, it helps to have a light source for comfort and also for sight if we need to use the bathroom.
If you don’t already have one, here is a rechargeable LED light to check out.
Gas water heater
Moving on to the fancier stuff now, many of us may not have considered a gas source to heat water. Not only will such a device allow us to bath or wash with warm water, but it will cut down on our electricity usage, and therefore costs.
This is just one example of a product that load shedding may have forced us to invest in, or consider buying, but is a device that can be used in the long-term to benefit our pockets and the environment.
If you have not yet thought of investing in a water heater, here is one you could investigate.
With many of us now working from home, our work schedules are being interrupted by daily power cuts, and while charging cell phones and laptops may keep us operating for a short while, we cannot work without WiFi.
Investing in an inverter has therefore become a necessity for those of us who work from home. The size and capacity needed will depend on the number – and type, of devices you need to keep up and running.
Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)
A UPS performs a similar function to an inverter, but its switch-over is immediate compared to an inverter which has a time delay. A UPS stores electricity while an inverter converts AC power to DC power. These devices can be more expensive than inverters.
Shop for more items to help Eskom-proof your home here.