Like me, I’m sure you’ve winced when receiving your municipal services accounts. It seems like we’re paying more and more for services, even though we try to reduce water and electricity consumption. The implementation of water restrictions, whilst very necessary, has meant that for those with large gardens and swimming pools, their monthly water account is significantly higher.
In addition to this, the Eskom increase for electricity of 9.4% became effective 1 April – so brace yourselves for the impact on your municipal account. With a cold and wet winter ahead it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
All indications are that electricity costs are going to continue to increase for some time to come. So just what can you do to reduce the impact of rising utility costs?
The answer is – go Green. There has been a significant improvement in the solutions offered to property owners over the past few years. Technology has advanced, and because of increased demand we’ve noticed a sharp decrease in the price of the new technology.
Take for example the concept of not having to rely on the Eskom for your electricity needs. Not so long ago a solution would have cost close to R 200 000. Now it’s possible for about R 100 000 or less (costs vary depending on system size) to have a hybrid photovoltaic solar panel system installed – that provides for between 65% and 75% of your annual electricity needs.
Consumers need to get smarter with regards to the timing of their electricity usage. High-consumption appliances (such as tumble driers) could be used in off-peak times – thus reducing the load on your batteries. In fact, the next generation of appliances will probably arrive with timer functions so you can program their usage.
Consider also the benefits of having a grey-water system installed. This would drastically reduce your water usage for garden irrigation and external water uses. If you haven’t already installed water-saving showerheads now’s the time to do so. Adjust the volume of water used for a toilet flush, and repair all leaking taps. You’ll be surprised by what you save.
When it comes to heating and cooling a home there is a lot to be said for the new generation of windows, doors, and glazing that is available. Initial costs could be in the order of 20% more than the traditional product – but there is a drastic reduction in the cost to heat or cool your home.
As a general rule it would appear that it takes about 5 years to recover your “green” investment at todays costs. That’s a pretty good return on investment – at an average of 20% a year. Thereafter you’re “in the green” as it were. When you consider the fact that you are less reliant on Eskom, do your bit for the environment, increase the value of your property, and save money, isn’t now the time to consider the change?
Principal of Harcourts Platinum, and Director of Harcourts South Africa
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