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Under pressure: How to cope with holiday loadshedding

This article will help to lessen your electricity loadshedding and water restriction micro-impact on the city during the holidays.

When the city you intend to visit over the holidays is a popular destination, you will usually book accommodation and entertainment tickets ahead of time.

This year, your itinerary will look slightly different as power and water have become premium products.

However, the constraints in power and water resources should not stop you from enjoying the holiday season. Even though cities worldwide are proactively managing this challenge, it will be a good idea for you to prepare for power outages and water restrictions.

Are there loadshedding, water restrictions?

The local municipality or metro will manage the increased demand for electricity and water by publishing up-to-date information on its website. The city is likely to use all available communication channels including radio, television, local newspapers and social media to warn residents and visitors alike of any restrictions – so stay tuned.

Your first port of call will be to the local municipal website for information on whether loadshedding or water restrictions can be expected – you can also request this from your travel agent or manager at your booked accommodation.

At this point be sure to get a copy of the schedule onto your mobile phone for daily ease of access during your stay. Another tip is to follow the city’s social media pages as it’s helpful for weather, traffic, electricity and water alerts as well.

How to lighten the load during your stay

  1. Switch off all lights and appliances when not in use – this is the golden rule and applies to standby mode as well.
  2. Adjust all air-conditioners to 23 degrees Celsius – this is the optimal temperature for you and the planet.
  3. Use daylight hours to its full advantage – and where possible delay switching on lights during evening peak periods, which is usually between 5pm and 9pm.
  4. In households or self-catering accommodation ensure that geysers and swimming pool pumps don’t run during peak hours and switch off where possible.

Don’t be caught in the dark, be prepared

  • Keep your cell phone fully charged and a battery bank close at hand in case of emergencies.
  • Invest in a small LP gas lamp for good quality lighting over a large area and a small LP gas heating ring for essential cooking (such as for babies’ bottles).
  • Prepare meals beforehand or, since it is summer, consider opting for non-cooked meal recipes.
  • Install a surge protection device, which can help to minimise damage to electronic devices and appliances.
  • Keep a battery-powered torch (with a set of back up batteries) and candles (with matches) in an easily accessible place – it could be very dark when the lights go out.
  • Know where the manual release lever is for electric doors and gates and how to operate them.
  • WARNING: if the power does go out, remember to switch off all appliances that were in use at the time, especially ovens and lights.
  • TIP: most medication that needs refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling (check with your doctor first) but keep frozen bottles of water at hand to help maintain the temperature during a power outage.
  • TIP for coffee & tea lovers: Ahead of a planned power outage, prepare a thermos flask of boiled water.
  • WARNING: when there are power outages the traffic lights will also be affected so please drive with extra caution.

Be water wise

  • The toilet is the most water-intensive fixture in the home – and as such it’s become acceptable to let it ‘mellow if it’s yellow’.
  • TIP: add a spoonful of chlorine to the toilet bowl to help reduce smells
  • Take military-style showers where you only run the water while rinsing.
  • Use waterless hand sanitiser and dry wash hair shampoo.
  • Reduce the amount of crockery washing up by using paper plates and cups where possible.
  • Invest in various size buckets to collect grey water from the shower, basins and other taps in the home for reuse such as washing floors and watering pot plants.
  • Never use potable (tap) water to wash your vehicle.
  • TIP: Keep bottled water on hand.

These tips and techniques are just a few ways to manage your electricity and water footprint in the city you are visiting or living in.  As climate change becomes our reality, it is wise to make these adjustments part of the everyday routine of our daily lives.

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.