Small changes will help to reduce your electricity bills

The July 31 cover of the Sunday Monitor flagged a story about increasing energy and food prices fuelling inflation.

Quoting the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos), the paper said headline inflation had risen from 6.8 percent to 7.9 percent between June and July.

According to the Uganda National Household Survey 2019/2020, 42.9 percent of a Ugandan household’s monthly income is spent on food and non–alcoholic beverages.

Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels combined account for 17.4 percent of households’ expenditure.

Given that salaries/wages are largely static, it is incumbent upon households to manage their expenses, starting, perhaps, with electricity.

Many commercial consumers such as millers who operate during the shoulder hours, that is, between 6am and 6pm, should consider taking advantage of Time of Use (ToU) tariffs.

Whereas such a consumer currently pays Shs584.6 for each unit he or she consumes between 6am and 6pm, he or she would pay Shs356.9 per unit (39 per cent less) per unit if they operated between midnight and 6am.

Medium industrial clients such as soap and coffee factories pay Shs529.9 for usage during the shoulder hours and Shs289.6 for each unit consumed during off–peak hours.

So, if they operate during off-peak, medium industrial consumers will save at least Shs240 per unit.

Large industries, which pay Shs355.6 for shoulder hour consumption, could save Shs124.5 per unit if they operated during the off-peak hours.

Years back, a section of manufacturers, who close their factories as daylight fades, said they would consider operating during off–peak hours if the security of their workers was assured.

Their concern partly informed joint effort by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Kampala Capital City Authority and Agence française de développement (AFD) on street lighting ensure Kampala has a 24-hour economy and to scare off wrongdoers who are more comfortable operating under the cover of darkness.

ERA has since reduced the tariff for street lighting by 50 per cent while KCCA has engaged AFD to fund the project, and utilities on the possibility of installing the lights on the utilities’ poles.

That said, even if many of the streets are lit, many workers would have to warm to working between midnight and 6am without worrying about burglars breaking into the workers’ houses while the workers are away.

The other way to reduce power bills would be by switching from using incandescent light bulbs to light–emitting diodes (LEDs), which give out much light yet consume less power.

Four LEDs of 7–watts each lit for 12 hours would use just 0.336 of a kilo–watt hour (kWh) daily whereas if one was using LEDs of 23W each, lit for 12 hours every day, they would consume 1.1kWh daily.

Compare that with four incandescent lamps of 60–watts each and lit for the same time – one will use up 2.88kWh in a day.

On Friday,  August 12, many schools will close for the second term, meaning many children will be at home whiling away the long hours by watching television.

The little ones are wont to amble from their rooms to the fridge to pick either fruits or juice and will keep the fridge door open for even three minutes, which means more power will be used to displace the abundant warm air finding its way from the room into the fridge through the open door.

Do not put hot water or foodstuffs in the fridge to cool and preserve them respectively as that will require more power.

Households with the financial means but are still using refrigerators that are seven years old and above should replace them with new energy efficient ones. The few that use electricity to cook, should replace old cooking utensils and while cooking cover whatever is being cooked so that not much heat is lost.

Implementing these suggested changes would save energy and reduce the consumers’ electricity bills accordingly.

Wesonga works at Umeme 

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