With the cost of electricity increasing, solar water heating systems manufacturer Uber Solar MD James Green says such systems for geysers are a good long-term investment for commercial use.
“The payback on water heating conversions of geysers to solar is between 20 months to three years. With a projected life span of up to 25 years, solar water heating represents probably the best investment any home could make.”
Green believes that, as the price of electricity continues to increase, the perception of solar water heating systems will change – from being a grudge purchase to a necessity.
He points out that heating water using electricity accounts for between 35% and 60% of a domestic monthly electricity bill. “Every 100 ∙ of geyser water heated to 60 ºC will use just over 5 kWh and 5 ∙ of water is used in generating that electricity.”
Other than light-emitting diodes, solar water heating is the cheapest and quickest way of removing electricity from the domestic sector, and accounts for more use than lighting, says Green.
Regrettably, all government incentives to reduce electricity consumption, or reduce morning and evening peak demand, ceased in 2014, he points out.
Green believes that, if government made solar water heaters and solar electric photovoltaic systems installed in the home tax deductible at the homeowners marginal rate, it would kick-start the market, create large numbers of jobs and contribute massively to South Africa’s energy security.
He also suggests that the private sector should try to educate the public regarding the benefits of saving electricity, money and carbon emissions using renewable-energy options.
Meanwhile, Green says, although there is a limited increase in the number of consumers converting to solar water heating systems for their geysers, Uber Solar does project a 50% growth in purchases of its systems in the year ahead.
“Uber Solar offers more power savings and more hot water output than any other system for the investment cost,” he points out.
Green states that the company will also introduce new renewable-energy technology into the market in March, which includes heating water at night using solar.