We all know that these are hard times and the term recession has been often used to embody the recent struggles of our Nation. What we might not know however, is that recent reports from the National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday said the country’s unemployment rate has risen from 13.3% in the second quarter of this year to 13.9% as at the end of the third quarter.
Apparently, the number of economically active people increased from 106.69 million in the second quarter to 108.03 million in the third quarter and in that period of time, a total number of 554,311 fresh people out of those that joined the labour force were unemployed in the third quarter.
This represents a 1.26% increase over the previous quarter and a 3.57% increase when compared to the corresponding third quarter of 2015.
What all these numbers clearly show is that is a large percentage of the country’s population are without jobs and of those who have jobs, a vast percentage are considered “underemployed”, hence earning less than their skills deserve.
However, as much as these statistics aim to clearly differentiate people into categories (employed, underemployed and unemployed) there is still one great leveler we all struggle with regardless and that is inflation. Reports have emerged stating that Nigeria’s consumer prices increased by 18.48% year-on-year in November 2016, following a 18.3% growth in the previous month. The inflation rate accelerated for the 10th straight month to the highest since at least October 2005, as prices continued to rise for housing, electricity and food.
This invariably translates to the fact that disposable income is at an all-time low and it begs the question of how we can possibly manage our utility bills without running into debts. This is an issue that has the potential to adversely affect the power sector as more and more consumers will continue to struggle to pay up their electricity bills which spells bad news for all stakeholders.
Power is arguably the most important utility in every household, its usefulness and necessity cannot be overemphasized and with electricity tariffs set to increase in the new year it has become even more important to adopt some strategies to manage our electricity bills.
Here are some simple and effective concepts, tricks and hacks to keep your electricity bills in check during this harsh economic climate.
The goal of energy efficiency is to optimally utilise the least possible amount of energy to achieve your tasks. It basically entails using less energy to provide same service. Various DisCos across the country have embarked on various energy efficiency scheme aimed at educating the general public of the great benefits of using energy efficient appliances. Using energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps over incandescent light bulbs can be of immense benefits.
CFLs have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs as they last from 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt. For example, a 25 Watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100 Watt incandescent lamp.
|Incandescent bulb VS Compact fluorescent lamp|
Energy efficiency is not limited to illumination alone. Consumers can greatly reduce their electric bills by opting for more energy efficient appliances (i.e. Fans, Refrigerators, Air conditioners, Television sets) over the fancier and less efficient models.
This simple and effective technique can save thousands of naira in electric bills.
If you don’t have a prepaid meter, you should get one and if you have one already, you can get a smarter one.
The goal of prepaid meters is to allow for complete transparency as customers buy units of power and can clearly monitor how the power is utilized. Prepaid meters put the power back in the hands of the customer (figuratively rather than literally) and allows them to choose how much power they want and how they intend to use it.
Recently, due to electricity theft and over-billing issues, DisCos are starting to employ smart meters which are even more accurate in reading power and more difficult to bypass.
Customers must subscribe to prepaid metering if they want to have full control of their electricity bills. It is the wise thing to do and it allows customers effectively plan how and when they want to utilise power.
|picture of smart prepaid meters|
The prepaid metering system might not be perfect yet as its flaws are often well documented, however, it is certainly more effective than its alternative.
Energy conservation is like the distant no-nonsense cousin of Energy efficiency. While energy efficiency seeks to adopt alternative methods to deliver the same services with less power, energy conversation seeks to eliminate excess use of power by simply shutting down appliances when not in use. This involves putting off all appliances and sockets after work or when leaving the house (except it is absolutely necessary that these appliances stay on). Energy conservation can be regarded as one the oldest tricks in the book to manage electricity bills.
In recent times energy efficiency is often preached ahead of energy conservation and this is simply because you can only conserve so much power after all. However, energy conservation might be the simplest and most reasonable way to manage your electricity bills. Especially in this part of the world.
Avoid Running Into Debt Before Attending To Electricity Bills:
Debt operation might be a viable economic concept for business conglomerates but it certainly isn’t for consumers of electricity. Sadly, paying bills after running into outrageous debts is common practice in this part of the world. With inflation constantly diminishing the amount and value of disposable income consumers have, it becomes keenly important to be proactive about attending to their utility bills. Waiting till these bills accumulate can be a dangerous practice as it becomes more herculean to attend to these bills eventually. Hence, this sort of practice is definitely not advisable.
This life hack can save you headache and lots of stress and it basically frees up your mind and finances to attend to other issues at their appropriate time.
Keep An Open Mind And Stay Up To Date On Tariff Changes:
This is sort of a double barreled recommendation. The truth is the Nigerian economic climate is constantly changing and more and more strategies are being employed to reduce budget costs. During this period one must be constantly willing to adapt to various changes and willing to take necessary decisions to combat this recession. Whether its managing your electricity bills through energy conservation, energy efficiency or by getting a prepaid meter. We must continue to weigh our options and consider new strategies to stay afloat. It is paramount that we all keep an open mind.
Also, electricity tariffs are constantly on the up and it is important to keep a close eye on these tariffs and make necessary actions. For example, electricity tariff is set to go up in the new year so it might be wise to buy more electricity units now before the prices get sky-rocketed. Keeping an open mind and paying attention to the industry players does not necessarily exclude you from the ups and downs of the economic crisis but it at least gives you some heads up. If we then take necessary actions based on these information, we ultimately put ourselves in the position where we can combat this recession and just maybe we might stand a chance of winning.