Monthly Archives

September 2017

Build Your Own Solar Oven And Make a Dessert Worthy Of Braai Day

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

It is Heritage Day – also known as Braai Day – on 24 September, and the solar energy experts, Energy Partners Home Solutions, know exactly how to celebrate it in a way that is uniquely South African. Gather your loved ones, light the braai and use the power of the sun to cook your dessert!

“Braai Day is not only a great opportunity to spend quality time with your family, but to also save electricity. With this in mind, we have put together some simple instructions that anyone can follow to build a basic solar oven and cook sweet marshmallow s’mores with the kids,” says Cala van der Westhuizen, Head of Marketing and Sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions.

“We have also included a recipe for the perfect solar cooked dessert. Just follow the instructions below and you will be amazed at the result,” he adds.

You will need:

  • Pizza box
  • Ruler
  • Black marker
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • NT cutter
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Cling film
  • Sticky tape
  • Black craft paper
  • Sosatie stick
Solar Cooker

Create a simple solar oven from a pizza box. Image source: http://science-u.org/

Step 1 and 2  – Cut an opening in the lid

Draw a square on top of your pizza box’s lid, making sure it is in the middle with a 2.5 cm border all around it.  Turn the box so that the part where it flaps open faces towards you. Use the NT cutter to cut through the two vertical lines of the square, as well as the horizontal line closest to you. Score, but do not cut, the horizontal line of the square that is furthest away from you (on the side where the lid is attached to the box).

Step 3 – Create a reflective flap

Fold the square open so that it stands upright. Cover the side that faces the opening in the lid with aluminum foil. Smooth out the foil as best you can. This shiny flap reflects the sunlight and is essentially what generates the solar oven’s heat. If needed, you can use a sosatie stick to keep the flap upright.

Step 4 – Cover the opening

Cut two square pieces of cling film so that they are slightly larger than the opening in the lid. Open the lid. Place one of the pieces of cling film over the underside of the opening and seal it on all sides with the sticky tape. Close the lid. Place the other piece over the top of the opening and seal it on all sides with the sticky tape. Note: When placing the pieces of cling film, stretch them as taut as possible and make sure the sticky tape creates an airtight seal all around their edges – This will help to keep the oven warm.   

Step 5 – Insulate the box

Now focus on the bottom of the box. Cover the base and sides on the inside with aluminum foil. (This step is optional, but it will insulate the heat better.) Cut the black craft paper so that it is the same size as the pizza box’s base. Place and glue the paper onto the aluminum foil on the base. The black paper helps to retain the heat.

Step 6 – Get ready to use your solar oven

Your solar oven is ready for cooking! Why not try some marshmallow s’mores for dessert? To create enough s’mores for six people you will need:

  • 12 chocolate-chip cookies
  • 6 marshmallows
  • 6 teaspoons of Nutella

Step 7 – Cook some s’mores

Take six of the cookies and place a marshmallow on top of each. Open the lid of the solar oven and put the cookies on top of the black craft paper. Close the lid and place the solar oven in direct sunlight. Wait for an hour or so until the marshmallows have melted. Once they are ready, open the lid and put a teaspoon of Nutella on top of the melted marshmallows. Sandwich the cookies closed with the remaining six cookies.

Tuck in and enjoy your Heritage Day braai dessert!

Energy saving technologies will help consumers prepare for massive electricity price hikes in 2018

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

ePorperty News has receintly published this article on energy saving technologies that will help consumers prepare for upcoming electricity price hikes.

 

The latest ruling by the Constitutional Court, allowing Eskom to retrospectively ask the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to claw back additional tariffs from consumers could lead to further hikes in the price of electricity for South Africans.

However there is hope for homeowners to considerably reduce the impact of future increases.

This according to Cala van der Westhuizen Head of Marketing and Sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions, a division of Energy Partners, and part of the PSG group of companies, who says this latest development is expected to place consumers under even more financial pressure.

“The good news is that alternative energy generation has never been more affordable and accessible to homeowners.”

According to Van der Westhuizen, property owners can reduce their electricity costs by as much as 80% with the right combination of energy saving technologies.

“Homeowners can use their own discretion as to how much they want to save and invest in energy efficiency, but most will find that even small changes could make a noticeable difference.”

Van der Westhuizen points to the available technologies that could offer homeowners the biggest long term cost savings.

 

What homeowners need to install

 

Van der Westhuizen says that replacing the home’s light bulbs with energy efficient lighting is the first place to start. “After that, replacing your home’s geyser with a heat pump, and a highly insulated hot water storage system, cuts the home’s electricity costs by an estimated 50%. The complete heating solution costs around R35, 000 for the average home.”

Next, he says that a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can provide up to 30% of an average home’s energy. “While this type of system costs upward of R80 000, it is hugely beneficial in the long term and must be viewed as an investment. Before embarking on this, it is important to understand whether the home’s rooftop has been designed to accommodate the optimal number of panels.”

Lastly, homeowners can choose a completely integrated system, according to Van der Westhuizen. “A hybrid inverter and battery, such as Energy Partners’ own ICON Home Energy Hub, enables property owners to integrate power from their solar PV panels, the national grid and batteries. It also incorporates a mobile app to track energy usage and savings in real time.”

 

Funding options for home generation

 

Van der Westhuizen also points out that while the capital required for home generation has decreased substantially in recent years, the upfront cost of a new system can still be prohibitively expensive for many homeowners.

Energy Partners took this into account when we were looking into the affordability of our ICON Energy Hub, which is an all-in-one solution for storing and using solar energy in the home, he states. “As a result, Energy Partners developed its own financing options for the system.”

Energy Partners is an approved credit provider under the National Credit Act (NCA) and offer the financing for homeowners, he says. “Our standard terms are prime + 2.5%, financed over five years, with a 10% upfront deposit. We have also developed a long term lease model, where the client can simply lease the system from us instead of having to pay for it upfront.”

Energy Partners recently launched its Smart Living Solutions initiative in partnership with Nedbank this year. This enables qualifying Nedbank clients to invest in energy saving products for their homes as part of their existing home loans.

“Alternative energy has become a good long-term investment with great financial benefits, and innovative financing options have made this option available to even more homeowners,” Van der Westhuizen concludes.

Please click here to read the original article.

Energy efficiency home upgrades to save you money

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

Property24 recently asked Energy Partners Home Solutions’ Head of Marketing and Sales, Cala van der Westhuizen, a few tips on energy efficiency home upgrades.

Energy-efficiency has become a global trend and designers are constantly presenting homeowners with visions of what high-tech, energy-efficient homes should look like.

The good news is that state-of-the-art energy saving solutions are available in South Africa, and in spite of perceptions, creating ultra-modern living spaces is affordable.

Whether designing and building a new house, upgrading a regular home or renovating a ‘fixer upper’, homeowners today have an incredible opportunity to implement great energy saving solutions.

Cala van der Westhuizen, Head of Marketing and Sales at Energy Partners Home Solutions, shares tips…

New water heating solutions 

A geyser is responsible for over half of a home’s energy bill and the modern alternative is to install a heat pump, which uses about a third of the total energy.

In conjunction with a highly insulated hot water storage system, this solution cuts the home’s electricity costs by an estimated 50%.

A complete heating solution costs around R35 000 for the average home. 

 

Rethinking lighting

Highly efficient LED lighting typically requires a tenth of the energy and has a longer lifespan than regular bulbs.

Constructing a new home or making major renovations is also an opportunity to allow more natural light into the building.

The home’s orientation, larger windows, glass doors and skylights all reduce the need for unnecessarily turning lights on throughout the day.  

 

Insulate everything

Insulation is a cost-efficient measure with the biggest impact on reducing energy consumption.

Double-brick walls with insulation in between, and well-insulated ceilings and floors are vital. Double glazing also reduces heat loss through large glass surfaces like windows and sliding doors.  

Door and window frames are often overlooked sources of heat loss, and wooden frames are the most beneficial in terms of reducing heat transfer between the inside and outside of the home.

 

Heating and cooling the home

If you’re looking for a cheap way to heat up your living spaces, modern fireplaces are a great option.

Conventional underfloor heating that uses closed circuit water-based systems and heat pumps is also one of the most efficient ways to heat a well-insulated home. 

For cooling, a new inverter air-conditioner never uses more energy than required to maintain the desired temperature. 

 

Home energy models through software 

Software modelling is commonplace in the commercial sector, and recently it has become more accessible to homeowners. It takes all the energy ins and outs into account, from heat radiating through windows and ceilings to the energy required for air-conditioning and heating water.

One case study in Hermanus saw Greenplan Consultants creating a virtual model of the home incorporating every possible variable, from the benefits of installing louvres, to the amount of heat removed by natural ventilation.

In the end, the consultant was able to increase the cooling efficiency of the home’s natural ventilation by 10%, and reduce the amount of energy needed for heating by a further 10%.

 

Solar panels and architectural considerations 

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system with a basic grid tied inverter that provides around 30% of an average home’s energy costs upward of R80 000. We often advise architects and developers on the easiest way to ensure that the roof is compliant, even if a system will not be installed from the start.

For a home to be able to accommodate the best possible solar array, the roof should be able to bear an additional load of at least 15kg per square metre.

Choosing the correct service provider is important too. There are many solar companies that do not have the experience, capabilities or intent to deliver a long-term and sustainable partnership to clients.

 

Batteries and home automation 

Finally, adding a hybrid inverter and battery provides the most energy savings. The inverter enables you to integrate power from the solar PV panels, the grid and batteries.


 

Read the article on Property24 by clicking here.

LED cost effectiveness is light years ahead

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

Converting your home’s downlights to LED is the first real step to optimising its energy consumption

Many households don’t realise that the lighting in their homes can consume up to 30% of their home’s total usage. That is quite a substantial figure for a feature that we hardly consider and in fact take mostly for granted. This is why lighting is often an overlooked aspect of home energy optimisation: water heating, large appliances and other obvious energy consumers like swimming pool pumps are more often than not given priority by homeowners. However, converting your current downlights to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) should actually be one of the first steps to optimising your home’s energy consumption.

LEDs are ideal replacements for traditional incandescent and halogen downlights (the majority of bulb types in South African homes), and are far more cost efficient in the long-term. Unlike conventional light fittings, LEDs create light through electroluminescence – a characteristic of certain elementary materials to emit light when an electric current is passed through them. This process is extremely efficient at turning electric energy into light, whereas other technologies waste a lot of energy through heat (this is actually why conventional fittings feel hot to the touch while in operation, and why LEDs do not). In fact, incandescent bulbs are the least energy efficient, converting about 90% of the energy they use into heat, and only about 10% into actual light.

When to switch off: The dark side of energy saving

The households that are aware of this wastage tend to employ various tactics in an attempt to curb it, such as switching off lights when leaving a room. Even if it is done with noble intention, it is not the best way forward. Analysing when it is or is not most cost effective and efficient to switch a light off is far more complicated than one might think. Firstly, it depends on what the price of electricity is at the time; and secondly, it depends on what kind of bulb we are talking about. This is because light bulbs have a nominal or operational life, which is dependent on how often they are switched off and on.

Bulbs2edt

We have already discussed the inefficiency of incandescent bulbs, and as they waste so much electricity generating heat rather than light, whenever they are not needed, should always then be switched off. Halogen lighting, although more efficient, still uses the wasteful heating technology of incandescent bulbs and so should also be switched off while not needed. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are slightly more complicated as they are more efficient than the aforementioned bulb types, but their operating life is determined by being switched on and off. Therefore the general rule of thumb is to switch them off only if you plan to leave the room for an amount of time greater than fifteen minutes. In stark contrast, the operating life of an LED bulb is unaffected by turning it on and off.

How to choose the right bulb

The benefits of LEDs extend far beyond their efficiency though. Aesthetically, there are two important factors to note when changing from traditional light fittings to LED: colour appearance and dimmer compatibility. Traditional bulbs produce a warm, almost yellow light—measured on a scale called the Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) scale they typically range from 2800k to 3400k. Traditional LEDs have a brighter, almost bluish-white in appearance, with a CCT of 5000k—which can appear harsh. However, the latest LEDs are available in a full range of colour tones and can easily replicate exactly the light quality that you require.

Light Spectrum

Many households now feature dimmer switches controlling their lighting. But traditional dimmer switches may not be compatible with LEDs because they draw such a low load. And so if you currently have dimmers on your downlights, you may need to upgrade your dimmer switches as well. However, this is a nominal cost compared to the money you save on energy. LEDs have been fashioned into a full range of fittings that can replace just about any type of traditional light, without requiring extensive rewiring. A conventional halogen downlight drawing 50W can be replaced with a 5W LED—reducing it to just 1/10 of the energy consumption—and provide equivalent light levels.

Probably the most under acknowledged feature of LEDs is that they have a short payback period and offer an excellent return on investment (if good quality fittings are used). The cost and savings will obviously depend on how long you run your lights, as well as the number and types of fittings in your home; these might be using outdated and inefficient transformers, which draw far more electricity than is necessary. In this case, both the bulbs and fittings would need to be replaced. The figures shown in the graph below are for a large home with ~50 LED downlights and typical usage.

LED Graph