South Africa is often criticised 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.
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.
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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