Prepaid Electricity Meters and Electricity Account Management
With the increase in electricity tariffs that have taken place over the last two years, it has become increasingly important to ensure the collection of electricity revenue from unit occupants in buildings. For this reason TUPA embarked on an investigative study to find a solution that, once implemented, would guarantee the collection of funds from tenants or sectional title owners on behalf of an owner or body corporate.
While prepaid meters are relatively new in some parts of South Africa, they have actually been around since the early 90′s. The prepaid industry has matured to such an extent that South Africa is seen as a world leader in prepayment technology.
Electricity Account Management.
In order to alleviate the burden of collecting electricity payments from unit occupants, TUPA will take over the management of the electricity account from the building owner or body corporate, once prepaid meters have been installed. During the month, unit occupants will then purchase electricity vouchers for their meters. When a meter runs out of credit it turns off and the occupant must then purchase another voucher before he can continue using electricity. At the end of the month TUPA will aggregate all the money received during the month from voucher purchases and pay the municipal electricity account.
Purchasing Prepaid Electricity
Prepaid electricity vouchers can be purchased over the internet from www.ipay.co.za, via various cellphone banking applications such as MTN and FNB, retailers including; Shoprite Checkers, Pick n Pay Hypermarkets and Supermarkets, Lewis Stores, Best Electric and many more. A list of stores will be provided to the unit occupants to ensure that there is a purchase point located close by.
Entering Prepaid Electricity Vouchers
All prepaid meters in South Africa work on a virtual voucher system which is governed by the STS (Standard Transfer System) Association and Eskom. The prepaid voucher is a 20 digit number which is entered on the keypad of the prepaid meter and works in a similar way to prepaid airtime vouchers for cellphones. Once entered the meter is credited with the amount of electricity purchased.
To purchase electricity you will need the serial number for your meter. The serial number can be found on the keypad of the meter or the meter card that was supplied with the meter. The serial number has 11 digits e.g. 07065375618.
Take the serial number for your meter to any of the above Purchase Points. At Checkers stores electricity can be purchased from the Money Market counter and at Pick n Pay, the cigarette counter.
Simply present your card or just give your meter number to the till operator, tell them the amount of electricity you wish to purchase and they will generate a token for you. The token consists of a 20 digit number e.g. 0798 3762 6675 9907 1187 which must be entered on the keypad of your meter. If you make a mistake while entering the number use the “backspace” key to correct the error or press and hold to clear the screen.
Monitoring and Saving Electricity
The prepaid meter is very useful in helping occupants monitor their consumption. The keypad has a screen which constantly displays the amount of electricity remaining. If you have set yourself a budget for the month you will be able to track your progress by keeping a close eye on the remaining kWh.
The red light (inside the light bulb image) shows the rate of consumption. It flashes 1000 times per kWh. If it flashes slowly, the rate of consumption is low. If it flashes quickly, the rate of consumption is high. It is easy to check how many Watts (Power) is being used at any one time by pressing the “i” or information key followed by “001″. It is possible to measure the consumption of individual appliances and lights. By turning everything off in the unit and leaving on just one light, the reading will be very low. Turning on a kettle, stove or heater will show a dramatic rise in the consumption.
If the meter is running low on electricity there is a yellow light that flashed next to the exclamation mark and you may hear an audible beeping warning when this happens. Simply press the “i” key twice to stop the beeping and reset the screen.
Advantages of Prepaid Meters
- Occupants are able to instantaneously monitor how much electricity they are using at any moment in time.
- They are able to budget their electricity consumption for the month, in advance.
- No surprise high bills at the end of the month.
- Trust is built up between the body corporate and occupants, as electricity billing is transparent.
- No occupants can run up debt on their electricity account which needs to be paid by other residents or the body corporate.
- They are able to easily identify problem appliances e.g. faulty thermostat on geyser, faulty hot plates, faulty heaters, and take action.
- Savings are effected due to awareness of consumption.
Some Tips on Saving Electricity
- Geyser – Turn the geyser thermostat down to 55 degrees. Turn the geyser off during the day and back on again at least 1 hour before taking a bath or shower.
- Lights – Change all the light bulbs for energy efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) If they take the old CFL bulbs back to Pick n Pay for recycling they can sometimes get up to R3 off your next CFL purchase. 1 old filament bulb uses the same electricity as 4 to 6 energy efficient CFLs.
- Heaters – Try to keep heater usage to a minimum and rather use a blanket instead. When buying a new heater ask the sales person to advise you on buying an energy efficient heater. Hot plates or stoves used as heaters are very wasteful and use a lot of electricity.
- Turn things off – When leaving the flat, occupants can check the red light and rate of consumption on their keypad for high usage. They may find you have left something on which can be turned off while they are away. A quick check using the “I” and 001 function will help identify the culprit.
- Cooking – They should try cooking on low whenever they can. When boiling food, the water should be brought up to boiling point and then the stove turned down so that the water boils slowly / simmers.