A ruling by the Constitutional Court last month which allows State-owned power utility Eskom to retrospectively ask the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to permit Eskom to claw back additional tariffs from consumers, could lead to further hikes in the price of electricity for South Africans.
Energy solutions company Energy Partners Home Solutions marketing and sales head Cala van der Westhuizen explains that this latest development is expected to place consumers under more financial pressure but that homeowners can considerably reduce the impact of future increases.
“The good news is that alternative energy generation has never been more affordable and accessible to homeowners. Homeowners can use their own discretion as to how much they want to save and invest in energy efficiency, but most will find that even small changes could make a noticeable difference,” he says.
He points out that property owners can reduce their electricity costs by as much as 80% with the right combination of energy saving technologies. There are available technologies that could offer homeowners big long-term cost savings.
“Replacing a home’s light bulbs with energy efficient lighting is the first place to start. After that, replacing your home’s geyser with a heat pump, and a highly insulated hot water storage system, cuts the home’s electricity costs by an estimated 50%. The complete heating solution costs around R35 000 for the average home,” Van der Westhuizen explains.
Further, he says a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can provide up to 30% of an average home’s energy. A PV system costs upward of R80 000, but it is beneficial in the long term and must be viewed as an investment.
“Before embarking on this, it is important to understand whether a home’s rooftop has been designed to accommodate the optimal number of panels. A hybrid inverter and battery, such as Energy Partners’ ICON Home Energy Hub enables property owners to integrate power from their solar PV panels, the national grid and batteries. It also incorporates a mobile app to track energy usage and savings in real time,” he highlights.
Van der Westhuizen points out that, while the capital requirement for home generation has decreased substantially in recent years, the upfront cost of a new system can still be prohibitively expensive for many homeowners.
“Energy Partners Home Solutions took this into account when we were looking into the affordability of our ICON Energy Hub, which is an all-in-one solution for storing and using solar energy in the home. As a result, Energy Partners developed its own financing options for the system,” he states.
The company is an approved credit provider under the National Credit Act and offers the financing for homeowners. He explains that the standard terms are prime + 2.5%, financed over five years, with a 10% upfront deposit.
“We have also developed a long-term lease model, where the client can simply lease the system from us instead of having to pay for it upfront,” he explains.
Energy Partners Home Solutions has also launched its Smart Living Solutions initiative in partnership with Nedbank this year. This enables qualifying Nedbank clients to invest in energy saving products for their homes as part of their existing home loans.
“Alternative energy has become a good long-term investment with great financial benefits, and innovative financing options have made this option available to even more homeowners,” concludes Van der Westhuizen.