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Durban - Pensioners Alan and Rosemarie Smaldon count their pennies carefully, ensuring that each is spent wisely, to stretch their money as far as it can go.
But, with the announcement on Thursday that Nersa had approved an 8 percent electricity increase each year for the next five years, the couple are looking to the future with apprehension, unsure how they - and others on fixed incomes - will cope with not only the price hike, but also its effect on everyday living costs.
“The price of petrol and food is going to increase and I don’t know what’s going to happen. We are already very conscious of what we spend,” said Alan Smaldon.
“For those on limited incomes it is going to be horrendous. Everyone is going to have to be as economical and thrifty as possible.”
As chairman of the Outer West Ratepayers’ Association, Smaldon keeps a close watch on his spending and bills, saying he has to be on top of changes that affect residents.
He said that in 2005 he and his wife were using about 440 kilowatts a month, but in 2008 they installed solar heating in their three-bedroom home in Gillitts. Their average use that year dropped to 265kW.
“The solar heating has helped tremendously,” said Smaldon. “It cost us R10 800 to put it in but that was before it became the rage. I believe now it can cost R20 000 to R30 000.”
Even though the couple’s electricity bill can be considered low when compared to that of the average family, they have still watched it climb every year. Smaldon said that had the solar heating not been installed, they would be paying almost double each month.
Their average monthly bill for the past five years has been:
- 2009 - R140
- 2010 - R160
- 2011 - R190
- 2012 - R200
- 2013 - R250
From 2009 to this year, their electricity bill has increased 78 percent.