#LoadShedding: SA urged to embrace 'off-grid lifestyle'
Johannesburg - As South Africans continue to grapple with daily load shedding by embattled power utility Eskom, The Gas Company on Friday offered alternative energy sources to minimise the impact of these power cuts.
The Centurion-based company has urged South Africans to cut dependency on the State and instead "live off the grid" and switch to gas.
According to The Gas Company owner Brett Cohen, living off the grid referred to not relying on a public utility for power.
This includes relying on sustainable energy sources like solar or wind farms, that also feed the national grid but only satisfy a fraction of the country’s total consumption.
“Ultimately,” Cohen says, “when the grid crashes and the lights go out, those alternative inputs make no difference.”
"At-home solar panels are also not adequate to meet the needs of an entire household and are quite useless at night and on cloudy days."
Gas, in contrast, Cohen cited as a good alternative because it can be obtained commercially and can satisfy most basic energy requirements.
"Sure, there are no gas-powered TVs, but a hot meal, a hot shower and family time in a well-lit lounge are a good tradeoff," he added.
He further said that because gas installations are immune to Eskom’s habit of pulling the plug, that alone made them worth the investment.
Furthermore, running costs are lower and will become even more attractive as the price of electricity continues to escalate.
"Many gas appliances are available locally for cooking, water heating, space heating, lighting and even refrigeration. Gas is also more energy efficient.
"For example, while electric geysers must constantly reheat water to maintain the desired temperature, gas models instantaneously heat water from cold and switch off immediately when the tap is turned off. Likewise, gas cooking is insanely cheap - a 9kg bottle can last a family of four for six months - and doesn’t waste power waiting for plates to heat up."
Cohen said the benefits of going off-grid by switching to gas are attractive, adding that it breaks one’s dependence on an unreliable power supplier.
It is also quickly becoming cheaper than electricity and is environmentally friendly as there’s less waste by design.
"And, finally, it’s in constant supply and conveniently available.
“This makes gas the only sensible alternative energy source for uninterrupted living,” he concludes.IOL