Cheryl Kahla
4 minute read
1 Jun 2021
4:43 pm

Load shedding: Creative ways to beat the weather when the power goes out

Cheryl Kahla

Eskom warns load shedding could persist throughout winter, while the cold weather is proving to be a challenge. Here's how to stay warm.

Picture: Unsplash/Brigitte Tohm

Eskom continued with stage 2 load shedding on Tuesday 1 June 2021, with energy expert Ted Blom predicting stage 4 power cuts could be implemented by Wednesday.

In addition, the power utility warned generation supply constraints “will persist throughout the high winter demand period”. Of course, the cold weather is proving to be a challenge as well.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has forecast South Africa will also face a week of very cold temperatures thanks to the cold front moving over the eastern parts of the country, which is sustained by the development of a cut-off low-pressure system.

It’s the perfect storm, really. Plummeting temperatures and no electricity to stay warm. There are, of course, the obvious methods from piling on the blankets and layers of clothes, to using a gas heater and keeping rooms insulated.

There are, however, a few lifehacks one could implement to up your load shedding game. Here’s how.

Load shedding lifehacks

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

It might be instinct to reach for a warm cup of coffee, but research shows that caffeinated beverages and nicotine cause your vessels to restrict, which in turn limits blood flow and lowers your body’s temperature.

Alan Hedge, director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University, in frigid Ithaca US, explains that a glass of warm milk – or even a mug of hot chocolate – would be a better option.

“The Mongols drank fresh, warm mare’s milk, which gave them the ability to have a sustained, warm, high-caloric diet that kept them warm”.

Pre-made coffee and a pre-warmed bed

There’s nothing quite like a warm bed on a cold day. Load shedding might mess up your plans, but you can still plan around the schedule by setting an electric blanket on low – or programming it to go on automatically – half an hour before the power is scheduled to go out.

Pro tip: Place your clothes under the electric blanket to pre-warm your pajamas.

Create a makeshift heater

Gas heaters don’t use any electricity but not everyone has one. Fret not, it’s easy to make a makeshift heater for indoor use using a few household objects you probably have lying around anyway.

All you need is a pot plant, a heat-proof mat, candles, a pot and a grill. Simply place the pot or any pie dish on the heatproof pad. Then, set three tea light candles in the middle of the dish and light it up. Place a grill or cooling rack over the candles, followed by a terracotta pot plant placed upside down on the grill.

The terracotta pots retain heat, but beware, the pot can get quite hot. It is, however, a quick, easy and affordable way to heat up a room.

 

Humidify your home with a warm bath

Taking a hot bath is one way to heat up, but don’t drain the water immediately. Instead of letting all that heat go down the drain, leave the water in the bath until it reaches room temperature.

Not only will your home be a bit warmer, but it will also help to humidify the space. If that doesn’t work, get moving. Go for a walk or a run, do yoga, stretch or dance, anything to get the blood flowing.

Load shedding and weather update

As for 1 June 2021, Eskom confirmed that stage 2 rotational load shedding would be in place from 4pm until 5am on Wednesday morning, “with a possibility of load shedding throughout the week”.

The power utility also shared a load shedding checklist, reminding South Africans to keep cellphones and power banks fully charged and to keep a thermos flask of boiled water at the ready for a hot drink.

In addition, use surge protection devices to protect your most valuable gadgets and remember to keep fridge doors closed. The complete checklist can be viewed below.

The SA Weather Service warns of “a very cold night ahead for most areas” in South Africa, with thunderstorms observed over Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal which could result “in freezing rain or small hail”. In addition, rain and snow will continue over the eastern half of the Eastern Cape.

load shedding south africa cold weather stay warm

Graphic: Twitter: @Eskom_SA