South Africa continues to experience ongoing power shortages and escalating electricity costs. It's therefore more imperative than ever for consumers to be aware of their electricity consumption and make a conscious decision to conserve power.
The Radiant Group – one of South Africa's largest lighting and electrical manufacturers and distributors – has launched a handy wireless electricity monitor called the Owl, which makes it easy to do just this.
The Owl measures the electrical current in a home and then calculates the amount of power being consumed and the costs involved. By using the Owl, consumers will become more aware of just how much electricity they waste and how, by changing bad habits, they can cut their household electricity account by up to 25%.
"Monitoring electricity usage with the Owl is the first step to saving energy in the home," says Graham Chick, Radiant's executive director for electrical product development. "The Owl consists of two components. The first is a transmitter unit, which needs to be fitted into your electricity distribution board by a qualified electrician.
"The second is a receiver with an LCD monitor that can be taken anywhere in the home. It displays electricity usage in real time and the Rand value thereof, by applying your own particular municipal electricity tariff, so you no longer need to wait for your monthly electricity bill to know how much you'll have to pay. The Owl also stores cumulative historical data, allowing you to compare your electricity usage from month to month."
But it's not only about saving money. "The Owl is an environmentally conscious product," continues Chick. "South Africa's electricity is predominantly derived from coal-fired sources, which are directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing electricity consumption reduces your carbon footprint and helps in the fight against the negative impacts of climate change."
The Owl enables consumers to understand their habits and patterns of electricity consumption. "It allows you make informed decisions on which appliances to use, because you can clearly see those that cost the most to run. Actually monitoring the energy being consumed sensitises consumers to switching off appliances when not in use, lowering the thermostat on the geyser or decreasing swimming pool timers, etc.
"It's a behaviour-changing tool," says Chick. "Technology is much more effective when it's allied to behaviour change."
Radiant Group has worked closely with the National Energy Efficiency Agency (NEEA), which has indicated its support for the Owl, and the product exhibits the supporting NEEA-logo.
NEEA general operations manager, Barry Bredenkamp, says: "With another tariff increase of 31,3% having recently been approved, the Owl couldn't have arrived at a more appropriate time. There's going to be a lot more pressure on consumers to save energy and money. Unfortunately, we never get to see our electricity meters, which are generally stuck away somewhere inaccessible. I believe that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it.
"The Owl remedies this situation. It essentially brings your electricity meter into the home, allowing you to see how much your electricity is costing you, in the same way you see the amount adding up on a fuel pump when you fill up your car. I believe it could play a significant role in helping cash-strapped consumers to minimise the impact of the new tariff increase."