There is a bright side to the current energy crisis, says Tony Clarke, MD of Rawson Properties: it is forcing the housing sector to find new ways of saving and generating energy.
“Ironically,” said Clarke, “our problem in SA has been that electricity has been inexpensive in comparison to what many First World countries are paying – which is why we did not look for alternative energy-saving solutions. All that is now set to change.”
Responding to what the Minister of Housing, Dr Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu, said at a conference he recently attended, Clarke said that what the Minister had asked for is attainable.
“She wants the housing sector to introduce energy saving systems prior to any property changing ownership,” said Clarke. “We at Rawson’s believe this is the right way to go – and we think that the systems should also become compulsory in all homes.”
Clarke said that there were many options but initially the following should be seriously considered.
* solar heaters
* double glazing
* weather stripping of doors and windows,
* switching to gas appliances
* install energy management devices
* a UPS solution for your security equipment
* install energy-efficient lightbulbs
* install sensor lighting
* blanketing of all geysers and hot water pipes
* insulating roofs and ceilings to a greater degree
* installing automatic switches on geysers and other hot water systems, allowing them to cut the power supply for a few hours each day
* encouraging the use of off-peak electricity which can then be stored in batteries.
“Solar, wind and tidal power,” said Clarke, “will be the obvious final solutions but as things now stand there is too little incentive to adopt them because they cannot currently be fed into the national grid. It is time we followed the example of those European countries, which actively encourage the generation of power for the national network from domestic sources – and then credit them on their home meters for this. Julian Rumbelow of the HSRC has shown that the technology required here is not expensive in relation to the benefits that follow.”
"Government should also embark on a national energy awareness campaign," said Clarke.
Although the present problems could lead to greater use of domestic generators, Clarke said that this is not a long-term solution because diesel is expensive – and likely to be in short supply from now on.