Electricity tips

Please use only what you need

The “Please use only what you needcampaign aims to create awareness, educate, and encourage participation among the residential and business sectors to use only the electricity that they really need, and in so doing assist to relieve pressure on the national electricity network.

The overarching campaign message is “Please use only what you need” and “Together, we can make a difference” and another objective is to avoid or reduce load shedding as far as possible.  Eskom will share the relevant electricity savings behavioural tips as well as information on efficient technologies and appliances with customers to empower them to effectively manage their own consumption.    
Eskom recognises that this campaign needs to be inclusive as it cannot do this alone.  The support from the South African residential and business sectors is crucial to relieving pressure on the power grid and making this campaign a success.
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The first and easiest way to reduce your usage is to switch off unnecessary lights.

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Boil enough water only for the number of cups of tea or coffee you’re making. Use a hot water bottle rather than an electric blanket. Use only cold water to wash your hands, to prevent the geyser from unnecessarily turning on.

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Take advantage of sunlight to warm rooms during the day, but then close the curtains to reduce heat loss during the evenings.

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Think before switching on the heater – rather dress warmly; use a blanket and a hot water bottle to keep cosy.  Electric space heaters can account for up to 17% of your evening peak power consumption. When using heaters, only heat the rooms that you’re spending time in.​

Keep an eye out for Power Alert on SABC, etv and DStv.  The colour-coded alerts share the electricity supply status levels with the required switch-off actions to effectively reduce electricity demand.  Please respond immediately by switching off unnecessary lights, your geyser and pool pump. 

Power failures

Electricity is extremely helpful in our everyday lives – but sometimes Eskom or the municipality’s electrical equipment fails and the result is a power failure.

  • Know where to locate the “mains” box in your home. 

  • In the event of a power failure, first check to see if you are the only house affected. If you are, check the “mains” box to see if the main power switch has tripped. If it has, switch it back on – the circuit with the fault should now remain off. Have it fixed as soon as possible.

  • If you are unsure of what to do, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! Call an electrician as soon as possible to fix the problem for you.

  • The problem can be caused by a lightning storm, a problem with the power lines in your area, vandalism or an accident in the substation servicing your area. When a power failure affects all the houses in your area it is usually due to a problem with the main power supply and the proper authorities should be contacted immediately.

Safety around the home

Electricity surrounds us – shaping the universe in which we live and driving modern society of which we are a part. It permeates the physical world completely. Thus, to know more about it and to understand it further is important. The first and most critical aspect to learn about electricity is safety. Playing around with electricity can be dangerous. Make sure that you and your family know how to work with electricity safely.

Conducting important routine safety inspections

Appliances needing repairs or replacement should be attended to immediately. Not doing so could result in an accident. In your home, breakages and excessive wear and tear on electrical equipment can occur frequently so you need to make regular inspections and take precautions to ensure your safety.

Here are some general points to look for when making an inspection:

  • Breakages

  • Wear/deterioration

  • Signs of overheating

  • Missing parts (screws, covers, switches)

  • Faulty appliance controls

  • Doors and covers not closing smoothly or adequately.

  • Correct labelling when needed (eg. Electricity requirements)

  • Loose Fixtures or fittings

It is also important to test your equipment regularly – switch it on and off and look for possible problems or faulty connections. Taking time to make sure you are using your equipment safely could save your life later on.

Plugs and electric sockets

In this day and age, plugs are an essential part of our lives as we depend on electricity for almost everything we do. Therefore, it is important for people of all ages to know how to use plugs safely. The following tips are for you to use when buying and using plugs.

  1. Look for the SABS sign and only use SABS approved plugs.

  2. Do not overload plugs – rather use an adaptor.

  3. Do not pull a plug by the cord.

  4. Switch the switch off at the wall socket, before pulling the plug out.

  5. Do not connect electrical appliances to light sockets.

  6. Ensure that all wall sockets have their switches in the “off” mode, when not in use.

  7. Never put bare wires into sockets.

  8. Do not stick fingers into sockets.

  9. If there are babies in the house, ensure that wall sockets are covered with a safety cap, keeping the area safe for babies to play in

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Image of correct way to remove a plug


Cords, like plugs, are an essential part of our environment. Cords also represent a safety hazard and as such, the tips that follow should be used to minimise any potential dangers that cords can cause.

  1. Do not use frayed cords – replace worn and frayed cords on appliances immediately. (See how easy it is to do this under the “Wire a Plug” section.)

  2. Keep cords well away from hot stoves and other hot surfaces.

  3. Do not run electric cords under carpets and rugs.

  4. Do not join cords with tape.

  5. Do not run cords through hinges.

  6. Do not run cords where people can easily trip over them.

  7. Use SABS approved electrical wires or cords.


Since water is an excellent electricity conductor, it can cause electric shocks or short circuits very easily. The general rule is thus to keep water in and around the home, away from any electrical appliances and any wall sockets.

  1. Do not use electrical appliances in the bathroom.

  2. Never touch electrical appliances with wet hands.

  3. Never fill a kettle when it is plugged in.

  4. Never mow wet grass with an electric lawnmower.

  5. Never hold an electric appliance in one hand while touching metal objects such as taps, fridges or stoves with the other. This is because our bodies are made up of 70% of water and they thus become very good electricity conductors.

  6. Never use water to put out an electrical fire if the mains are not switched off. Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher instead.

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Image of electricity safety

Electricity and children

When babies start to crawl or walk, extra care has to be taken that they do not harm themselves. Children are naturally interested in cords and plugs and their curiosity could lead to serious accidents. Here is some advice on how to make sure that your children are safe.

  1. Children love playing with loose hanging wires. Make sure that the cords of your iron and kettle are not left hanging where a child can pull them, thereby causing a hot iron or kettle to fall down and burn the child.

  2. If you have turned a heater on, watch your child carefully so that he / she does not stick their fingers through the grill and touch the hot bars of the heater.

  3. Do not let children play with electrical cords – they can chew on a live wire.

  4. Teach children not to play with electrical sockets. Keep all unused plugs in the house covered with a safety plug. Babies love to stick their fingers into the plug holes.

  5. Teach your children not to fly kites near power lines.

  6. Do not allow children to release metallic balloons outside.

  7. Never allow children to climb electric poles.

  8. DO not play with children on or near an electrical installation.

Outside the home

There are a few situations outside the home that could be dangerous:

  1. When working with any electrical appliance, like power drills, make sure that they are connected properly. Never use them in damp or wet areas.

  2. Do not enter electrical sub-stations – the voltage is extremely high and very dangerous.

  3. Do not touch any electrical power lines. Under no circumstances should you ever go near them. All power lines are very dangerous.

  4. Do not make a fire underneath power lines.

  5. Never climb onto electric pylons.

  6. Do not play or build houses under power lines.

  7. Do not throw stones at insulators.

  8. Do not cut down trees next to power lines.

  9. Do not touch power lines that have fallen to the ground.

  10. Do not carry long objects under power lines.

Plugging in safely and correctly

  • Overloading a plug can cause a fire. A multi-plug adaptor will allow you to use as many appliances as needed without the risk of overheating.

  • Pulling a plug out by the cord can expose bare wires. Pull it out by gripping the plug itself and make sure the power is switched off.

  • Broken plugs or loose wires are dangerous. Always use SABS approved plugs and make sure there are no loose wires.

  • Putting electrical wires directly into a socket can seriously hurt or kill anybody touching that appliance.

  • It is dangerous to plug electrical appliances into light sockets. They should only be plugged into wall sockets.

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Image of electric plugs

More home safety tips

  • If you are using an extension cord, never let it run under carpets or rugs – place it in a “no-trip” zone.

  • If the plug you are using has a different number of pins to the electrical outlet, use an adapter that will accommodate both the plug and the outlet.

  • To avoid an accident, keep heaters and fans a safe distance from your curtains and furniture – at least 3 feet away.

  • Using the correct fuse is important. When you replace a blown fuse, make sure of its size as the wrong one could cause a fire.

  • Electricity outlets and switches should always be cool to the touch – if the aren’t call a technician to fix it for you and NEVER touch it yourself.

  • Unplug any of your small appliances when you are not using them, eg. Toasters, irons, hairdryers.

  • Do not use electric blankets with loose wires – they could cause a fire or shock. Do not tuck in or squeeze wires as this is also very dangerous.

  • Turn your heating pad off before you go to sleep.

  • Use the specified watt light bulb as indicated on the light fixture.

  • In case of an accident and your clothes catch fire, don’t panic – ‘DROP’ and ‘ROLL’.

How to change a light bulb

Identify the bulb-type that needs to be changed. Check whether it is a screw-in or bayonet type, and whether you have a new one in stock.

Note: Keep a torch handy. You may need it to change a bulb after dark.

  1. Switch off the mains switch on the distribution board or electricity dispenser.

  2. Switch off the light at the light switch or wall socket.

  3. Note: If a lamp’s bulb is to be changed, switch off the lamp switch and remove the plug from the wall socket.

  4. Remove the faulty bulb. If the bulb is a bayonet type, insert it carefully into the light socket, and twist it gently until the bayonet pins slot into place. If the bulb is a screw-in type, insert it carefully into the light socket and turn it clock-wise until it sits firmly in the light socket.

  5. Switch on the mains switch on the distribution board or electricity dispenser and then switch the light on.

  6. Discard the old light bulb safely.

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Wiring a plug

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  1. Bare the ends of the three wires inside the electrical cord for about half a centimeter, by cutting away the plastic insulation.

  2. Gently twist the strands of copper wire with your fingers until each strand is tight.

  3. Fold over the twisted strands.

  4. Remove the plug cover by either “snapping” or unscrewing it.

  5. Unscrew the little screws on each of the plug’s pins.

  6. Insert the twisted copper wires into the holes in the pins.

  7. The green and yellow wire must always be inserted into the top pin.

  8. The blue wire is inserted into the left pin (the pin is marked with a blue spot or the letter N).

  9. The brown wire is inserted into the right pin (the pin is marked with a brown spot or the letter L)

  10. Tighten the little screw on each of the plug’s pins.

  11. Make sure the electrical cord is firmly gripped by the arrestor clips.

  12. Replace the cover of the plug.