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Load-shedding: Levelling the nation

Load-shedding: Levelling the nation

South Africa is often criticized for being unequal and divided. Load-shedding has transcended the racial, age and economic divides to create a common ground, through shared experiences of darkness, congested traffic, and cold dinners.

Nudge, a company specialising in online research, conducted a dipstick survey amongst 311 South Africans(1) from across the country to explore how load-shedding has impacted their day-to-day lives.

Power-full behavior

In spite of anger and frustration, the majority (86%) of surveyed South African’s are making an effort to save electricity. Switching off lights, installing energy saving light bulbs, regularly turning off geysers/appliances or even choosing to opt for a hot-water bottle rather than the luxury of an electric blanket are becoming common practice! Whether our good samaritans are being pushed by hiking electricity tariffs or a guilty conscience is still out for the jury.Interestingly, a notable portion have taken more than just your basic torch-and-candle type action in favour of alternative power. A whopping 78% have either installed gas for cooking or intend to do so. Residential gas providers should closely monitor demand during the winter period as close to half of those surveyed are opting for gas heating as an alternative to Eskom power. Even more costly solutions such as UPS (7%), generators (10%), solar geysers (13%) and solar electricity (9%) are seeing an increased uptake, and many who have not already invested in these are at least considering them comments Jake Orpen Managing Director of Nudge.

Digital is power

The online space and social media are fast becoming key sources of information on load-shedding. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are an important information source for all walks of life, not just the millennials or affluent. Facebook trumps all social media with 32% relying on load-shedding updates from this medium, not far behind the Eskom website itself which has 37% claiming to regularly consult the channel.

News agencies such as news24, and others recognise the importance of online channels, evidence seen in the emergence of mobile and web applications such as Gridwatch http://loadshedding.news24.com/, EskomSePushhttps://eskom.sepush.co.za/ and loadsheddingapp http://loadsheddingapp.co.za/where one can easily register your area and receive real-time alerts on load-shedding status.

Light-shedding

Over a third of those taking part in the survey utilise the Eskom website for their schedules and a quarter consult municipal websites. This along with social media could provide a valuable opportunity for Eskom to “shed some light” through providing their clients with a means for two way conversation – if they dare?

Light at the end of the tunnel

South Africans share the frustration of load-shedding and are being pro-active by changing their behavior to save power where they can, use alternative sources of electricity and empowering themselves with information.

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