Powering your home and business with generators can be costly and it is unwise to keep spending a large portion of your income doing so.
It is a fact that most Nigerian homes and business concerns rely heavily on generators as the major source of electricity.
With the power sector still stuck in crisis after privatisation and power supply hovering between 3,000MW and 4,000MW for years, Nigeria has become one of the major importers of generators in the world.
According to data from the Rural Electrification Agency’s energy audit, 37 federal universities in the country are using 1,068 generators as alternative power sources.
Statistics from the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy also showed that only about 40 per cent of the Nigerian population has access to grid-connected electricity, hence, the use of generators by most Nigerians.
However, powering your home and business with generators can be costly and it is unwise to keep spending a large portion of your income doing so (Think of the costs of fuel, maintenance and replacement.).
Take note of the following seven tips on how to reduce your generator expenses to a large extent.
Use energy-saving bulbs
By using low-voltage light bulbs, you can have good quality lighting that is more reliable and uses considerably less power.
Low-energy bulbs are a mixture of fluorescent, neon, sodium and mercury vapour light technology and are up to five times more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. They can also last six times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
By using the most efficient bulbs where the lights are needed the most, you can make a significant reduction in generator fuel expenses.
Use low-voltage home appliances
By introducing a selection of low-voltage appliances to your home, you can reduce generator runtime and use less power overall.
Low-voltage appliances such as home theatre systems, electric fans, televisions, air conditioners, water pumps are more energy-efficient than their 240-volt equivalents.
Next time you use your generator, ensure that you turn off high energy-consuming appliances to minimise fuel expenses and save the life of your generator in the long run.
And if you are shopping for new home appliances, go for energy-saving ones. In fact, there are many appliances designed to consume low power in consideration of the Nigerian market.
Lower refrigerator use
Minimise the use of a refrigerator when using a generator to save fuel expenses and life of the generator itself. However, you can go for a low-voltage compressor motor-type refrigerator, to significantly reduce your generator expenses. On average, a low-voltage compressor motor-type refrigerator or freezer uses significantly less power than their 240-volt counterparts.
Use gas cooker more
Even if your technician says your generator has enough capacity to power an electric cooker, don’t be tempted to use the generator regularly for cooking on the electric cooker. In an ideal environment, generators are only used as backup, not to replace grid-connected electricity.
This is where your gas cooker comes in. Rather than burden your electric cooker while using a generator, use the gas cooker. Thankfully, the cost of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (also known as home gas) is gradually becoming cheaper in the country.
Go for smaller generator
Generators are often geared to being able to power everything being turned on all at once, that is, maximum loading. By transferring a significant portion of this load either to a battery-based inverter or directly to a battery bank, there could be a considerable downscaling of the size of the generator needed.
Any petrol or diesel generator needs to have a minimum loading when it is running. This means that if you want to watch TV connected to the generator, you would have to turn on a whole lot of other things such as light bulbs, appliances and heaters to provide this minimum load.
Hence, just to watch the TV can cost you a small fortune in fuel. A smaller generator has a lesser minimum loading and uses less fuel per kilowatt-hour for the smaller loads.
Service your generator regularly
Don’t wait until your generator breaks down before you call a technician to service it. Just like cars, your generator is a machine and will only work if every internal component is working fine. Change the generator’s oil regularly and do general servicing as recommended by the manufacturer or your technician.
Renewable energy is the best option
Although it could cost a fortune to install a solar power system, it is one of the best alternatives to grid-connected electricity. Among other benefits, it does not produce noise and air pollution like generators.
You can start saving now to invest in a solar power system for your home and office. This will not only cut off your dependence on a generator, but it will also make you not to rely on the electricity grid. Install a solar panel, wind turbine or hydro unit in your home and you will never worry about electricity again.
Meanwhile, hydropower may not be applicable to many areas as a fast-flowing stream and/or a vertical head of water (to give pressure) are essential to install it.