The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has affected all areas of our daily lives – the way in which we work, manage our finances and how we interact with each other. In these unprecedented times, many have concerns about the future and their income, so they are looking at ways to save costs in monthly household budgets.

Electricity costs can be shocking
 

One cost that continues to put pressure on our households is utility tariff increases, and given that most families are now home for extended periods, their personal energy use will have increased. Added to this, the increased costs that we often experience during winter.


The power is in your hands

We have outlined a few steps that could help you maintain healthy finances by managing electricity bills, and therefore, your budgets, sensibly.
 

Reducing your electricity costs might be a quick win in improving your monthly budget. With many households refocusing their budgets due to changing incomes and expenses, there is no better time than now to look at where to cut costs. While you may already have reduced spending on luxury items as well as those easier-to-manage costs, you have probably overlooked your electricity bill. And, electricity is often a large cost.


Therefore, the big question is: “Do you understand your electricity bill, and have you validated this?” Below is a process you can follow to verify your electricity bill.

Your account number, service address, where your electricity meter is located, and the meter number are all unique identifiers for your electricity account. Confirm that this information is correct. As silly as it might seem, mistakes such as being charged for your neighbour’s consumption, do happen. This information should also be kept at an easy reach as it is usually required as a reference when making a payment or querying a problem on your account.
 

Typical electricity billing components
 

Your electricity bill is made up of a number of costs. The utility provider generally bills you in terms of two methods (fixed and variable charges), by which your electricity tariff structure is defined. Some of the jargon used to describe these costs can be rather confusing. Refer to the table at the bottom of this article on some of the key jargon and descriptions that you would find on a typical bill.


Analysing your bill
 

The simplest method of analysing your bill is by applying this easy formula for each of the items being billed, for example, kWh consumption x rate = cost (100kWh x R1.20 = R120.00). If the meter reader cannot access your meter, you would normally receive an estimated read to calculate your bill. In this case, you will be billed based on a three-monthly consumption average. Pay careful attention and record the period in which the bill was estimated – it will be clearly stated on your bill. The total charge for the month in which your meter is read will be the actual metered amount and a credit will be passed if the previously estimate is higher and vice versa. 

Analysing your consumption 
 

Understanding your electricity bill and your energy consumption will help you to assess your energy use patterns and levels, so that you can begin to make sense of the necessary information that you need to monitor your consumption. 

Do some simple comparisons. For example, by comparing your use from the same period in the previous year, you can get a picture of your electricity consumption during the different seasons. If your use is higher in winter or summer, you might want to look at the reasons and some options for reducing it. 


Taking action
 

Given that we are in winter and your costs are likely higher, you can look at a mix of options to reduce your electricity costs. This might include using thicker bedding so that you don't need to leave the heating on overnight, heating only the rooms that you are using, sealing draughts and cracks with simple window and door tape, and investing in a more energy-efficient heater if your current model is using too much power.

Geysers can sometimes account for up to 40% of electricity consumption and so, installing a timer or a more efficient geyser (gas or solar) can save you a large portion of your electricity bill in the long run. Making some simple changes to the way that you use energy in your home can help you save.


Live smart in your home
 

There are many ways to reduce electricity costs in your home. Some are simple habits and others could cost you initially, but the savings are well worth it.

Sustainable living is all about living smart – using less energy and paying less. We have a number of finance options that could help you make your home cheaper to run and smarter to live in. And, best of all, you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint! So why not live smart and pay less?

Therefore, the big question is: “Do you understand your electricity bill, and have you validated this?”


Verifying your electricity bill 

Key jargon and descriptions that you would find on a typical bill.

 

 

 

This article first appeared in the Lionesses of Africa online publication.

 

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