Feeling Renewed

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

Reducing electricity consumption is something that many of us feel is a chore and expense. While a bit of effort and money may need to be spent up front, homeowners can reap immediate benefits through implementing systems that reduce the use of power from the municipal grid.

An obvious starting point is installing solar panels. Simply put, solar panels consist of an array of photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. The size, type and how many you need would be dependant on how much electricity you consume, something that is more than likely based on the size of your household. The major benefits of using solar power is that it is clean, not subject to fuel price fluctuations, won’t be affected by municipal power interruptions and that the panels are durable and low maintenance (they currently have a lifespan of roughly 20 to 30 years).

One of the concerns is that the panels don’t produce electricity during rainy periods or at night. Homeowners can install batteries which will provide power for lighting and small appliances. Combine these batteries with gas for heating and cooking and your home would still be less reliant on the municipal grid during cloudy periods. Read more about solar panels.

Eskom and accredited suppliers have teamed up to offer consumers solar geysers with a rebate. Fitting a solar geyser requires some initial research as there are numerous factors that will affect efficiency, such as climate of the area you live in or type of installation (pre-feed, retro fit or standard). The rebate works in one of two ways: either you have the geyser fitted and claim money back from Eskom or the supplier does this in advance and you pay less for an installation. Read more about solar geysers.

Though they might not directly reduce electricity costs and consumption, pre-paid meters are an excellent means of staying on top of power usage. How often have you left lights on during the day and gone to work? Or left appliances on stand-by mode? Normally you would not give this a second thought but having a user-friendly meter in your home and being able to see the immediate consequence of negligent use may help form better habits. Once installed electricity is bought like cell phone airtime. You would buy tokens/vouchers/credit from you supplier (or landlord), punch in a pin code and in doing so, top up your electricity. Read more about pre-paid meters.

Though they may not be suitable for an estate with an uptight body corporate, wind turbine kits are now available to the public. Wind energy is practical in all provinces or in residential areas but smallholdings, farms or communities in remote areas that have no access to the grid can benefit from this type of energy. Read more about wind power.

The information presented above is a brief introduction and starting point for renewable energy. Each home will have unique set of circumstances and anyone wishing to install solar panels, geysers, gas stoves or meters should research all the options available to them.

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