Surviving the electricity hike

Get switched on and invest in energy-saving features for your home.

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With the cost of electricity set to soar, we should all consider reprioritising our list of must-haves when shopping for a home, advises Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate SA, who urges home buyers to elevate the importance of energy-saving features such as gas cookers, solar water heaters (which, say experts, can save between 25 and 40% on an electricity bill) and heat pumps.

‘Aside from the usual considerations, such as the location and condition of a property, purchasers need to look at the energy-saving features of the home they’re considering buying. Properties designed to be thermally efficient with ceiling insulation, north-facing reception rooms and those offering solar panels, energy-saving shower heads and energy-efficient appliances such as gas stoves make serious financial sense.

A completely grid-free solution, which could cost as much as R500 000, is beyond most budgets – but every energy-saving feature and effort will make a difference.’

And if the property doesn’t come with any or enough energy-saving features, Richard recommends allocating a budget – even if it’s at the expense of new curtains or other improvements – to install features that will ensure both immediate cost savings and long term value growth.

Sarah Ward, Head of Energy and Climate Change for the City of Cape Town, agrees: ‘In Cape Town alone, residential electricity consumption is responsible for an estimated 43% of total electricity consumption, of which mid- to high-income consumers account for 31%. Solar water heater systems and heat pumps are therefore great investments which can increase the resale value of new and old homes.’

According to the City of Cape Town’s electricity-saving campaign, ‘low-cost options that would each cost less than R1 000 would be to install an energy-efficient showerhead, a geyser blanket, hot water pipe insulation and LEDs,’ says Sarah.

‘Invest-to-save options’ such as good ceiling insulation – which can keep a home 5°C warmer in winter and 10°C cooler in summer – and solar water heating also guarantee long-term savings, advises Sarah.

Top tips from Eskom

• Small appliances are more energy efficient and economical than the bigger items such as geysers, stoves and televisions – so use your toasters, electric grills and skillets, slow cookers, electric pots and bottle warmers whenever possible.

• Use an electric kettle to boil water, rather than doing so in a saucepan on the stove and don’t fill it to the brim – use only as much as you need at a time.

• Wash a full load of dishes, rather than one or two at a time.

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