With just days to go before Black Friday, the biggest shopping event of the year, retail outlets across the nation are already preparing for the occasion, which promises huge deals and discounts.
But before you join the frenzy, financial experts have urged for shoppers to budget wisely and to plan strategically.
This is particularly the case for energy-efficient appliances as load shedding has been a major issue in South Africa this year, with electricity being unavailable for 293 out of 305 days until the end of October.
This not only does load shedding cause inconvenience but it also damages appliances as the power surges when the supply is switched off and on. This has led to some insurers receiving more claims for power surge damage than theft.
And with the upcoming festive shopping season, many are looking to replace their damaged or broken appliances and invest in energy-efficient alternatives which are compatible with inverters.
However, the director of air treatment specialist at Solenco, Trevor Brewe advised consumers to do their research before making a purchase.
Brewer believes that when buying an appliance, it's important to look beyond the price. “Saving a few bucks now might end up costing much more in the long run, especially with load-shedding becoming a regular occurrence,” he said.
He recommended finding energy-efficient and inverter-friendly alternatives.
“To start, determine how much power your household currently uses and which appliances consume the most energy,” Brewer explained.
“For instance, a tumble dryer uses twice as much power as a washing machine but drying a load of washing with a low-energy dehumidifier can cost as little as R1.55, while a tumble dryer can cost around R8.06 per load.”
Here are Brewer's top tips for buying energy-efficient appliances:
Check the energy rating
Look for appliances, especially larger ones like fridges, with higher energy ratings (A) as they are more energy-efficient, he suggested.
Look for eco modes and timers
Brewer said that appliances with an 'eco mode' allow you to use them while conserving energy. “Fans with DC motors are preferable as they use less electricity, and built-in timers are a bonus.”
Calculate power usage
Check the appliance's power rating in watts (W) and convert it to kilowatts (kW) by dividing by 1,000.
“Estimate the daily usage in hours and multiply it by the kW to get kilowatt hours (kWh),” Brewer suggested. Multiply the kWh by your electricity rate to determine the cost of using the appliance.
Ensure that the appliance is the right size for the space, Brewer said. “An oversized appliance may waste electricity, while an undersized one may not be effective.”
Check the warranty and read reviews
Look for appliances with a warranty and consider extended warranty options. “Most retailers offer 2 year warranty but some suppliers offer you the opportunity to buy an extended warranty of up to five years.”
He added that reading reviews can provide insights into the performance and reliability of the appliance.
“Pay attention to user feedback about the devices' resilience during power fluctuations and their compatibility with power backup solutions.”
Price comparison and budgeting
Before Black Friday, research the regular prices of the electronic devices on your wish list, Brewer said.
“This will enable you to assess the actual discounts offered during the sales period.” He also suggested setting a budget and comparing prices across different retailers to make informed purchasing decisions.
Durability and longevity
Given the economic considerations, Brewer recommended looking for electronic devices known for their durability and longevity.
“Research consumer reports and product specifications to identify devices with sturdy build quality and long-term reliability, minimising the need for frequent replacements.”
Consider multi-purpose devices
Brewer also advocated for considering multi-purpose electronic devices that offer functionality beyond their primary use.
“For instance, a laptop with extended battery life and offline capabilities or a smartphone with power-saving features and essential productivity tools can provide versatility in various situations.”
Check for compatibility with power solutions
For devices like laptops, smartphones, and other portable electronics, research their compatibility with power solutions such as solar chargers, power banks, and generators, Brewer said.
“Understanding how these devices can be sustained during power outages is crucial for making informed purchase decisions.”
He added that during the Black Friday period was a good time to look at the available surge protection options for your appliances, gate motors, security systems, and geysers.
“If you’re investing in energy-efficient appliances it makes sense to protect them in any way you can,” he said.
“Load shedding is going to be around for a while; as consumers, we need to do what we can to reduce the risks it poses while at the same time enhancing our quality of life.”