Updated 11.06.2023

Benefits of Prepaid Electricity and When to Buy

Why and when should you buy prepaid electricity in South Africa?

Everyone wants to have the convenience of accessing power. As such, South Africans have had a massive change in their perception of prepaid power. Many are embracing this format of purchasing electricity more than they did in the past. There are good reasons for this too. Below are a few of the top motivating reasons why prepaid electricity is becoming a thing for many residents of Mzansi.

prepaid electricity

The Ease of Buying Tokens is Encouraging

The South African population is increasingly embracing the idea of buying prepaid electricity because it is easy. All one needs is access to their phone. The process is as easy as pressing a few buttons, and you are ready to go.

The fact that the purchase process is express means that no time is lost. You don’t need to plan, making the process convenient and instant. You purchase electricity tokens on a need basis, saving you the stress of paying for the power you don’t use. It is also manageable in case of insufficient funds.

You get to Monitor the Consumption

The most significant advantage of prepaid consumption is probably that it is easy to monitor your consumption. Power consumption has always been an issue for most South Africans. However, with prepaid meters, one gets a specific amount of units for a certain amount. Consequently, they can easily track how much power they consume.

Each time one buys prepaid tokens, one can easily track how the amount is used up. It is easy to tweak the consumption rate based on the different appliances used. This way, one can always tell which gadgets they use in the house consume excess power.

It is also possible to gauge the power used per household in a certain period. For example, buying the tokens every week helps you know the exact amount needed for your house in that duration. Close monitoring can help determine the average amount needed for this duration. Such information is helpful for budgeting and planning purposes.

It is not surprising, therefore, that most South Africans prefer this kind of electricity purchasing method. When one can estimate the amount of power they use on a monthly basis, they can easily adjust depending on the consumption levels. Many households have reduced their monthly energy consumption by up to 15 percent by making simple changes.

You are also in control of the consumption amount you will be spending. As the consumer, you can decide what is enough for you for a specific period. This gives users control over their energy consumption and makes regulating energy use easy.

Promotes Better Use of Resources

Most proponents of pre-paid electricity bills can control their consumption appropriately. They are never ambushed with ambiguous energy bills at the end of every month. They know precisely how much they need to spend on the electricity bills.

This allows moist households on the prepaid meters to manage their energy resource better. Therefore, many households get to enjoy better resource allocation with this technique.

How Do Prepaid Meters Work?

The prepaid electricity meters are responsible for putting power in the consumers’ hands. This allows consumers to have access to electricity. They also get more direct control over the electricity consumption in their households.

Budgeting is also easy as the meters come with an in-home display unit that registers daily consumption rates. This clear marking allows households to track their energy consumption and eliminates the common electric bills shock at the end of each month.

Prepaid Electricity Works Better for Landlords

Besides direct household users, landlords benefit immensely from prepaid meters. Landlords can always monitor their tenant’s electricity consumption via an internet connection. They are also able to check for any potential tampering from bypassing meters.

This empowers landlords to have more control over their houses, albeit remotely. They can always protect themselves against avoidable losses and have better control over electricity consumption in their properties.

The fact that tenants also get to pay for their electricity bills upfront means that the landlord does not run the risk of catering for defaulted electricity bills. The tenant caters for those who use what they purchase. The prepaid service leads to instant termination of services if the bills are not paid in good time.

When is it Most appropriate to Buy Prepaid Electricity?

Conventional and prepaid meters use similar tariffs for electricity. City electricity tariffs work on an inclining block. This means that the electricity cost depends on the block division one is in. 

The first block has the cheapest price per unit or kilowatt hour (kWh). Once the limit/ threshold is reached, the consumer is moved to the next block, which is more expensive.

The cost for Block 1 (1 to 100 kWh) is 209,70. Block 2 (101 to 400 kWh) costs 245,41, while Block 3 (401 to 650 kWh) costs 267,38. Finally, Block 4 (More than 650 kWh) costs 288,24.

Conventional meters are billed for 30 days. The meter is then reset to zero, and the billing begins. The electricity bill will come at the end of the month after the consumption is calculated.

On the other hand, prepaid purchases are based on the calendar month. Each billing period ends, and the meter resets to zero. This means that the customer’s bill starts from the first block. Fortunately, any unused units will be carried over to the next month, so there are no losses.

It’s best to buy units that will last the month only. This is a preferred model that is likely to save you more money. The city will always recommend prepaid customers buy their units through the city instead of other sellers who add their transaction costs.

With this in mind, purchasing your electricity at the beginning of the month when the meter has been reset to zero is best. This means that the bill will most likely fall in the cheapest block, the first block.

Most people advise purchasing the units at the beginning of the month to take advantage of the cheaper costs. However, this is not cast in stone, especially for prepaid customers who can conveniently purchase electricity whenever they want to.


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Job is a seasoned writer with a good understanding of the emerging markets, Africa to be specific.