Light in the darkness: how SA schools should cut their ...

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Light in the darkness: how SA schools should cut their electricity costs

Schools’ annual bills can be reduced by up to 39% if fluorescent lights are replaced with LEDs

Jason Avron Samuels, Leslie van Rooi, MJ (Thinus) Booysen and Sara Grobbelaar

Despite financial constraints, high costs and the best efforts of principals, electricity usage in SA’s schools remains largely unchecked, as they focus on educational outcomes. The country’s 23,471 public schools use an estimated 3.5TWh of energy a year. This is about a quarter of Koeberg nuclear power station’s production and it costs about R5bn.

In a recent study, The Conversation analysed the energy usage of 13 schools in Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape. The sample included poor and affluent schools. We then compared it with what schools use in other countries. This comparison makes it possible to estimate energy efficiency and see where money can be saved.

Though there are large variations, we found that the average school in our sample set uses 450kWh (“units”) at a cost of more than R865 per school day. With just more than 1,600 schools in the Western Cape, the collective daily cost for electricity is about R1,385,000. This is an equivalent daily carbon footprint of more than 500 flights from SA to London. It represents a massive impact on the country’s fragile national grid and increases the need for load shedding...

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