The Green Mile – Part I



It has been brought to our notice, that starting from this year they are hiking the prices by 30% per year over the next three. Sadly this won’t be the end either. Their reasons are possibly well founded – South African people have been paying almost the lowest rates internationally for the last few years and the time was to up the tariff to be in line with overseas energy suppliers. Interesting we say. Interesting that our only reactor is nearly 20 years old and should be moth-balled. Why haven’t they built other sources of power since the ANC took over our beautiful country and turned it into a ‘blackout’ hell hole up in Gauteng where most of our energy gobbling industry exists. There have been many theories, one is that maintenance is at an all time low. The other is that nobody knew how fast our economy would grow. These and many other theories may possibly be correct but what is 100% spot on is that the citizens of our land have all decided to look for a means to cheapen their daily power consumption. Again, what do we really have that can lighten our burden?  Batteries? Solar? Wind? Wave Motion? Hydrogen? We can knock our national power commission but they have tried to do their bit with the free supply of geyser blankets and free trade-ins of your domestic lighting to more energy efficient lighting. Well today they released their year end profits – a mind staggering 3.5B rand (just over 500M U$), not bad for a long suffering company, albeit government owned.

Well enough from the electric grim reaper. What can we really do about it. At present our electricity tariffs are around 80c (0.8 Rand) per Kw/Hr depending where one resides. If one takes into consideration that our average population don’t care if they leave a 40 or 60W light bulb or two on over a month they may be shocked to see the savings if they had resorted to possibly an LED equivalent or even CCFL. My power at home costs us R600.00 per month (90U$) which I think in U$ terms must be as low as one can go consiering that there are exorbitant amounts of wastage taking place. The geyser was set to 72 degrees C which was turned down to 55 degrees C which alone saves us quite a bit. We can skimp here and skimp there but next year the prices are hiked again by another 30% which doesn’t bode well with all that skimping – you’re back to square one. Gas by the way is out of the question – it’s very expensive. Now we have gel stoves. I wonder if anyone has looked at the costs involved?  Why not compressed human excrement? Ummm, wouldn’t use that myself.  No, the time has come to look seriously at first of all wastage and then alternative sources of power.

If one does a search on the internat it’s very easy to become disillusioned. Plenty of advertisements, plenty of hype, plenty of promises and plenty of BS. I stick to pages where someone shows you how he built a wind powered generator which really works, shows you pictures, schematics and of course, the savings. Has anyone really looked at your power requirements to run an electric cooker, possibly using only two plates over a period of one hour per night. I’ll leave out the Sunday roast because that alone is enough to give the heart muscle spasms. Two plates consume about 4Kw when switched to maximum heat – if you are prone to heating your plates up to max and leaving it there, one is looking at 4Kw/Hr (if left on for an hour). Thats 120Kw/Hr a month. You do the maths. Conventional electric stoves also come with two types of plates, chiefly spiral and solid. They both have their advantages, the spiral heating quicker and the solid keeping it’s heat for longer. But have you thought about old plates, the third but nastiest plate of all. They consume more electricity because they no longer are as efficient as a new plate. Have you ever replaced an electric kettle and wondered why the water boils quicker than the previous one (same power rating of course). I mention the electric stove here because that with the electric geyser are power hoggers. People use them inefficiently and forget about maintenance. Looking at the two plates on full heat alone will make you cringe – one cannot get that kind of ‘green’ power cheaply. Cheap alternatives for the incandescent light bulb, yes, but not for the electric stove, geyser and kettle. This is the first and last stop in my mind. At present we only have a means to cut down on wastage but not a viable alternative. Or do we?

Before I commence on the second part of this article I do want to leave you with this link:  Otherpower (the Cutting Edge of Low Technology). I found the site VERY informative and educational with lots of links. And oh, yes, it’s powered by Linux.

The GreenPowerEasy website is another interesting look at the challenges facing the consumer. The contents are not free, but do have a look. Decide for yourself.     Click Here!

Our next part will cover current trends, what is in store for us, trends, economical solutions, power: bit by bit and where we may be going wrong. I.e. are we heading in  the right direction…. I don’t think so!

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