June 2015

Date:18 May 2015 Tags:, , ,

ESKOM, CONSIDER YOURSELVES SHED.

ALL RIGHT. THAT’S IT. I GIVE UP. ESKOM, YOU WIN.

Call me naïve or a hopeless optimistic, but I really, really wanted to be simply able to flick the light switch and have the lights come on.

Yes, over the past few years Popular Mechanics has urged everyone to be more efficient and responsible about using electricity. We offered alternatives and ideas about renewables. You probably followed some of our advice. I know I did.

We swaddled the geyser at home in a purpose-designed blanket. Then we installed LED replacements for our energy-hungry halogen downlighters. Similarly, LED bulbs in the bedside and accent lights. They’re surprisingly well priced these days and they save lots of electricity. You know, electricity. The stuff we’re being urged to use less of, when it’s available. Welcome to winter 2015. We’re in for a hard winter of load shedding. Followed by a hard spring of load shedding.

And more to follow. Much more.

In response, we need to use less, we’re told. Well, a business that urges us to use less of what it produces is, surely, doomed to go out of business.

Frankly, it’s become intolerable.

I realise now that the voice of apparent reason echoing into the silent darkness was only me rationalising. In among all this responsibility and efficiency, I suppressed – as long as I could – the rising impulse to get our house all generatored and inverted and solar powered and off the grid. After all, we live in the industrial powerhouse of Africa, I said. Our guys are doing their best to keep the lights on. We’ve rolled out electricity to many millions who didn’t have decent access before. Going off-grid would be an admission of… well, of defeat.

So I admit defeat. And helping to tip me over the edge, reader Mike Mollatt this month writes that backup generators are a great idea, but in crowded suburbia he foresees “generator rage” sparked off by the unavoidable racket. What’s needed, he writes, is authoritative guidance on home battery back-up systems.

Sounds like a plan. By the time you read this, with any luck I will have done the research, done the shopping and done the installation.

Come to think of it, that might even make a good story. We could use a few of those.