Kitwe Energy Sources

Wood stove

Wood stove

Introduction

Do you lie in bed at night wondering about the pros and cons of solar power in your home or business? If your answer is “No”, then you are not alone.

Have you heard about the uncle who travelled from the village to mourn his nephew in Luanshya? He found people had already gathered at the house. He strategically positioned himself near the ZESCO electricity transformer that was humming away near the fence. It later turned out that his plan was to claim ownership of this important looking piece of kit when it came to sharing the assets of the dearly departed!

Ok, that is extreme. Truth is, very few people seriously take time to learn about Kitwe energy sources. We have grown up with electricity all around us and we take it for granted. We may worry about our bills, but we tend not to think about the alternatives to electric energy. Charcoal, coal, wood, gas and hydro-electricity are all alternatives with their own limitations and repercussions on the environment. At the same time, the critical mass towards the use of alternative energy sources like solar and wind power, has not yet been reached.

In this series we look at how much energy we are using in our homes, how much it is costing us, and comparing costs and benefits with alternative energy sources.

At the end of the day, we are all looking at how we can save money by reducing our electricity bills.

Do You Remember The ZCCM days?

Historically, Kitwe residents have been sheltered from the real costs of energy consumption, especially among mine employees. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) supplied electricity to the mining townships free of charge or at a highly subsidised price. It was common to see electric cable extensions all over the back of a house with very bright high energy bulbs scattered around the yard as security lights. The more enterprising employees even had extensions into the chicken coop supplying light and warmth to their chickens.

Geysers were left on 24/7 even when no one needed hot water, lights were left on in unoccupied rooms, street lights sometimes stayed on during the day. We grew up not giving a second thought about how much energy we were using and wasting.

As Zambian towns have grown in size, so have their energy requirements. The Kariba Dam hydro-electricity plant has not increased its output significantly. The cost of electricity production has gone up and is now being passed on to the consumer. Load shedding is an unsatisfactory compromise of going without electricity to allow other places share what little there is.

How Much Electricity Am I Using?

The current meter installation by ZESCO is going to focus consumers’ attention on efficient uses of energy as they juggle their domestic and business expenses in an increasingly unforgiving environment. With a meter in place, if you run out of money, you run out of electricity. It does not matter if this happens during your favourite TV program, preparing the family dinner or in the middle of writting your assignment. It does not matter that you have just stocked your fridge with perishables. No money, no juice.

Figures are available for average home energy consumption from other parts of the world, but nothing from Kitwe consumers.

KitweOnLine is inviting you to participate in our own data gathering exercise, the results of which we will publish here at the end of August, 2011.

For every set of two readings submitted, we will calculate the number of days between the two readings to derive the average electricity consumption per day, per household. The more people participate, the more accurate our results will be.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Note down the first date and the meter reading, and the second date and the equivalent reading. The time interval can be 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, etc.
  2. Enter your data in the form below
  3. Tick off the appliances you use in your home
  4. No personal data will be required.

If you are already ahead of the curve and enjoying lower electricity bills, you can share your thoughts with us in the discussion section below.

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