Prepaid Electricity & Water 101: What You Need To Know As A New Prepaid User

by | Nov 1, 2022

Prepaid utilities is the direction in which South Africa is headed. Converting from postpaid to prepaid electricity makes it easier for municipalities to manage revenue collection, by ensuring that residents cannot use more than they can pay for, upfront. 

Similar to the concept of prepaid data, municipalities are now making it possible for residents to use prepaid electricity and water in their households. Let’s take a look at what all newbies need to know about getting started with prepaid utilities in the home.

How do prepaid meters work?

Whether it’s water or electricity, prepayment meters allow residents to purchase prepaid tokens/vouchers for their chosen utility. These vouchers convert a Rand amount into units of electricity or water, which is registered on the meter once the token is loaded. As the water or energy is consumed in your household, it is deducted from the credit balance on your meter. 

What are the benefits of smart prepaid meters?

  1. Cost control and saving – Users can monitor/control their energy consumption and use electricity in ways that are more efficient and cost-effective. 
  2. Better customer service delivery – no more billing enquiries or disputes. Real time power outage alerts will allow utility providers to respond faster to faults in the field. 
  3. Reduced potential for electricity theft and meter fraud smart meters have anti-tampering technology and tamper alarms which are linked to the utility provider’s system to deliver malfunction notifications and detect meter bypassing.
  4. Improved safety – along with a more reliable and stable electricity supply, and fewer power outages.  

Are smart prepaid meters easy to tamper with?

The new smart prepaid meters being rolled out across South Africa are expected to reduce energy theft significantly, thanks to  built-in smart features like tamper detection. Smart prepaid meters have extremely sensitive tamper alarms that will communicate irregularities directly to Eskom’s revenue protection unit.

Where can you apply for a municipal prepayment electricity meter?

The smartest thing to do if you want to convert your home to prepaid electricity or water is to visit your closest municipal customer services centre and make direct enquiries as to how to apply for a prepayment meter for your home

  • The forms and documentation required might differ slightly from municipality to municipality, but generally speaking, your account must be up to date before making an application.
  • Your completed application for a prepaid meter will be captured and you’ll be given a reference number and forwarded to the relevant department (prepaid utilities) for technical analysis and costing. 
  • Once approved, a pro-forma invoice that breaks down the costs, installation specifications and a metercard will be posted to you.
  • You must submit your completed meter card for your connection request to be processed.
  • You will need to pay the necessary meter connection costs, and once payment has been received, your application will be confirmed. 

Note: According to municipalities, the turnaround time for connections will depend on the availability of meters and can take anywhere between 3-6 months to convert from credit to prepaid.

The following documents must accompany your application for a prepaid meter from your municipality or Eskom:  

  1. I.D document of applicant
  2. Proof of ownership
  3. Registered contractor details
  4. Open an account with a refundable deposit

Where to buy prepaid electricity

Most retail supermarkets and convenience stores (such as petrol station shops) sell prepaid electricity vouchers or tokens. You will need your meter number in order to make a prepaid electricity purchase. 

If you’d like to buy prepaid electricity without leaving the house, the Home+ app makes it easy for you to do so. This means you can recharge your prepaid meter 24/7, without having to do anything more strenuous than pick up your phone.

Buying prepaid electricity and water on the Home+ app:

  • Safe and convenient: mostly because you don’t even have to leave the house
  • Quick and easy: recharge in under a minute
  • Do it your way: pay via EFT, credit card or debit card – whichever you prefer
  • Earn rewards: get rewards on every purchase, at no extra cost
  • No hidden fees: get exactly what you pay for 

Why can I not buy prepaid electricity?

If you have not paid your municipal account on time, your meter will be automatically blocked. 

How to unblock your prepaid meter? You will only be able to recharge your prepaid meter once your account has been paid up to date at the municipality. Sometimes you will need to wait 24 hours for your meter to be unblocked after paying your account. 

Until your meter has been unblocked, you will not be able to recharge with prepaid electricity vouchers

Have you heard about prepaid water meters?

The prepaid system for water works in the same way as the electrical prepaid system. Customer interface units will be provided to all households by their relevant municipalities, and units can be bought from the same prepaid vendors that are used to buy prepaid electricity.

What are the benefits of switching to prepaid water meters?

  1. You can control your water consumption: you can see exactly how much water you’re using. You don’t have to worry about a surprise bill from the municipality because you started filling up the pool and then forgot to switch off the hose pipe. A prepaid water meter ensures that you remain  within budget, and prevents any large and unexpected utility bills at month end.
  2. Awareness about how much you’re actually using: It can be difficult to judge water usage – how much do you really use when you shower or water the garden? Not being aware of how much you’re using can lead to excessive use.  With a prepaid water meter, you always have an idea of what your remaining balance is since it’s displayed clearly on the meter screen. This helps you to be more mindful of consumption and more conservative with an increasingly scarce resource.
  3. Reporting is much easier: You no longer need to allow a council meter reader access to your property to read your meter. A smart water meter provides all the necessary data, which means reduced admin and no more being overcharged by the municipality.
  4. Purchasing prepaid water tokens is easy: You can handle all your prepaid water purchases directly in the Home+ app. It’s secure and convenient, and you’ll earn rewards on all of your purchases. 
  5. Smart prepaid water meters are actually smart: they provide functionality such as water leak detection, they’re easy to install and tamper proof. 

While you’re being smart about reducing your electricity spend and water consumption, do you know how much electricity your geyser uses? Then take a look at these overlooked power-hungry appliances   – you might be surprised!

Share this article

Article by

Vincent Gaemers
Vincent Gaemers is the Growth Lead at Home+. He breathes the Home+ brand and his mission is to deliver the Home+ knowledge to our customers.
Vincent Gaemers
Vincent Gaemers is the Growth Lead at Home+. He breathes the Home+ brand and his mission is to deliver the Home+ knowledge to our customers.

Share this article

Subscribe for weekly updates