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.
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.
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.