Is combatting load shedding as easy as turning off our geysers?

There are approximately seven million geysers (hot-water cylinders) of all shapes and sizes in homes across South Africa. With new homes being constructed all over the country, that figure also increases by about 15 000 new geysers per month.

If those numbers sound large, consider that the average South African household geyser uses about 12 kWh of electricity per day, which equates to a countrywide total of 3 500 MW of power – well over the figure of 2 000 MW that power utility Eskom looks to save when it forces Stage 2 load shedding upon the general populace.

The simple fact is, collectively, our geysers are costing us millions of rands just by being on, and they’re sucking much-needed electricity from the national grid at the same time. Adding to that, energy analyst Chris Yelland estimates that Stage 2 load shedding costs the country around R2-billion in lost productivity each day. So, what’s the solution?

Well, if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the millions of households in South Africa that has a geyser, we’re not telling you to have cold showers and baths. That alone won’t solve the issues around load shedding, but you should probably be looking to periodically turn the geyser off in an effort to help. Better yet, lowering the set-point temperature of the water inside the geyser (the temperature at which the geyser element stops heating) by 10–15°C (from the standard setting of 70°C) dramatically lowers energy consumption. Doing these two things, however, can be a hassle for the average homeowner, and – if not done correctly – can also be dangerous. That’s where Sensor Networks comes in.

Simply installing a smart-geyser controller that forms part of Sensor Networks’s Internet of Things (IoT) smart-home solution onto your existing electric geyser can slash 20% off its energy consumption. In addition, making use of the Sensor Networks smart-geyser app that’s paired with your controller, managing a heating schedule and resetting the set-point temperature as needed can result in energy savings in excess of 40–50%.

Turning off our geysers to lighten the load on the national grid will certainly help Eskom with its load shedding efforts, but properly managing our geysers – and making them ‘smart’ – will have the added benefit of long-term energy savings for the power utility and end users alike. As the old adage goes: Don’t work harder, work smarter. Perhaps having a smart geyser in every household in South Africa would be a good start?