South Africans have been experiencing another roll out of load shedding, and while national power provider Eskom is finally on the path to efficiency with state capture damage being tackled, the promised land of a stable power supply is still far-off.
"Off-grid" living has become more important than ever, and South Africans are adding a host of known and new technologies to their lives.
New homeowners are looking to implement power saving strategies, both to ensure a reliable energy source and for the wider goal of averting climate change. “There are a multitude of alternate methods for ‘living off the grid’ “says Ryan McFie of McFie Drafting and Architectural Services.
“The sun (solar) is at present the best and most abundant form of renewable energy, especially in South Africa. With technology improving as fast as it is, it’s becoming more affordable and realistic to utilize” he comments.
Many homes are taking on all the basic solar strategies as a starting point, in order to conserve and generate power. “The idea is to regulate your homes temperature during summer and winter months without having the need to use electricity” McFie says.
Entry-level installations include solar heating direct to geyser, roof insulation, geyser blankets, and gas instead of electricity for stoves and heaters. Even adding strategic window awnings to make full use of natural light and heat is a new staple add-on.
“You can do this by adding awnings to your east (morning) and west (evening) facing windows” points out McFie.
“With solar strategies able to generate power, consumer interest in hybrid cars has increased,” says AutoTrader CEO George Mienie.
“And while we do not yet have a nationwide recharging network, Tesla has targeted SA as its new destination in 2019 and newly built garages are including electric charging points. For those unable to afford the hefty price tag of a hybrid vehicle, making better product choices will contribute towards a more eco-friendly existence’’ continues Mienie.
"Check the CO2 emissions of a car before buying. South Africa has a CO2 emission tax so if you buy a car with low CO2 emissions it’s not only beneficial for the planet but your wallet too’’.
On the home technology front, solar electricity generation with battery bank storage offers an exciting new way to power the home. JoJo tanks for rainwater harvesting makes for an independent water source, and solar powered borehole and pressure pumps further take the water system off the Eskom meter.
Under certain conditions even methane gas collection from septic tanks is becoming a viable addition to the home, as well as wind energy harvesting in the right areas. Load shedding or not, getting off the grid and going green is 2019 makes sense on every front.