Electricity: switch to solar and save


Unaffordable, impractical, ineffective. That’s how many families felt about solar energy as an alternative to Eskom power. As for solar geysers – eish, they’re expensive!

Now, with Eskom having had tariff hikes approved and doubling its subsidy for solar geysers, many people are taking a fresh look at this green alternative.

After all, it doesn’t look as if our electricity – which is mainly coal-generated – will get cheaper. In fact, although Eskom tariff hikes of about 25 per cent a year for the next three years have been approved, the electricity supplier initially asked for an annual increase of 45 per cent to fund its infrastructure programme.

Who knows what Eskom will do in future. The idea of using solar energy to provide hot water for showers, baths and washing the dishes is becoming increasingly attractive.

Electric geysers chow energy

“An electric geyser accounts for about 40 per cent of the average household’s power consumption,” says Andrew Etzinger, a general manager at Eskom. The figure is generally put at 30 to 50 per cent.

“It’s the domestic appliance that uses by far the most electricity so if you want to reduce your power bill significantly a solar water heater is an excellent starting point.

“In this way you can save an average 70 per cent of the electricity you’d usually use to power your electric geyser. It could mean a saving of 30 per cent on your total annual electricity bill.”

What’s more, solar geysers don’t stop working when there’s a power cut.

Expensive power and big subsidies make solar geysers effective cost-cutters

When Eskom announced its solar geyser subsidy scheme two years ago the average subsidy was about R3 500. “We’ve now doubled that to an average R7 000,” Etzinger says.

Depending on how much power your solar geyser saves the new subsidy ranges from a minimum of R2 100 to a maximum of R12 500.

The bigger subsidies also mean a solar geyser will pay for itself in a considerably shorter time, Etzinger says. “In five years or even less people will have their money back and after that they’ll have plenty of free hot water.”

*See the latest YOU for all the details of how solar geysers work, what they cost, how to go about having one installed and applying for your subsidy.

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