With the cost of living rising at an astonishing speed and a landmark VAT increase we are all looking for more ways stretch our meagre incomes just that little bit further. When there is nothing in our wallets but dust bunnies and till slips the last thing we need is an electricity bill that’s three times higher than we expected. Prepaid electricity can take some of the guess work out of your utility budget. Let’s have a look at that and other advantages of prepaid electricity.

Types of Electricity Meters

Before we delve into the advantages of prepaid electricity let’s understand the two main configurations of the electricity meter.

One is the main or municipal prepaid meters. These replace the meter monitored by your electricity supplier, (usually your municipality or Eskom itself). These are installed by your electricity supplier or one of their sub-contractors. Your power “tokens” will still need to be bought from the same supplier.

Secondly we have the sub-meter. These sit “behind” the municipal or main meter (whether that is credit or prepaid). They are used mainly in rental or subdivided properties and can be installed by any qualified electrician. The landlord or owner is still charged for the electricity used through the main meter, however. The token supplier then “reimburses” the registered owner from the money from the sold tokens used in the meters on the property.

Both types have similar advantages.

General Advantages of Prepaid Electricity

The first major advantage is transparency, or,  more specifically the ability to monitor your own usage. Most prepaid meters have a digital readout and a light indicator that can tell how much electricity you are using and any given time and how quickly you are using it. You are no longer trying to decipher a complicated rates bill based on your suppliers estimate of your meter reading. You can then buy electricity as and when you need it and be sure of exactly how much you are spending on electricity.

Management is the second advantage of prepaid electricity. The ability to monitor your usage in real time gives you the power (pardon the pun) to better manage your usage. You can figure out figure out which appliances are the power hogs, what your average daily use is and how the weather affects your use.

Monitoring and management give you the third advantage, budgeting. If you know how much electricity you are likely to use and what practices use the most you can better budget your electricity for the month. You know whether you can afford to turn on the air conditioner to save your sanity in a heatwave or whether winter braai is a good excuse to sit around a roaring fire and avoid turning on the heater and the stove.

There are a couple minor advantages as well. Electricity tokens are easy to buy, you can get them with your weekly groceries or even top up with your phone like you would airtime.

You don’t have to pay re-connection fees if you’re late paying the bill. Or go and stand in a long in a queue because your went through 10 minutes after they printed the disconnection list

Specific Advantages of Sub-meters

As well as these sub-meters offer advantages specific to landlord, tenant arrangements.

Advantages To Landlords and Property Owners

  • Tenants pay for electricity before using it so they can never use more than they can afford to use.
  • It is easier to track electricity use by tenant and charge accordingly
  • Tenants can track their own usage and so there are fewer disputes over electricity usage.
  • Property Owners are sure of recouping there electricity costs

Advantages To Tenants

  • Tenants can be sure that they are just paying for their own usage
  • As above tenants can monitor, manage and budget for their electricity usage
  • There are no surprise bills at the end the month or lease period.

Recapping the Advantages of Prepaid Electricity Meters

Though there are two major configurations of prepaid electricity meters they both offer the same general advantages. Prepaid electricity meters allow users to monitor, manage and budget their electricity saving money, stress and embarrassment.

Municipal or main meters are available from your electricity supplier generally either Eskom or your municipality. Your bill will tell you which. Sub-meters are available from good hardware store like Rex Hardware and can be installed by any qualified electrician and have additional advantages for both landlords and tenants.

Did you know that you can also get prepaid water meters?

Save electricity in the winter