sustainable energy Archives - EP Home Solutions

World Environment Day: Innovations For Greener Homes

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World Environment Day on 5 June is about encouraging worldwide awareness for the need to preserve and enhance the environment. With carbon dioxide emissions continuing to be a major environmental concern, we decided to take a look at some of the most interesting advances in green building which might just change the construction industry for the better.


Recycled paper bricks


University of Pretoria student, Elijah Djan was only 11 years old when he invented Nubrix, a brick made from waste paper. With only about 5% of South African households recycling their waste paper, the other 95% are sending theirs to the already overflowing landfills, the environmental benefits of this product are clear.

Djan is now turning Nubrix into a business. While more durability tests need to be done, he has subjected his waste-paper bricks to rain and compression tests, and built a Nubrix wall that’s still standing a year later. The hope is that in the near future there will be a very real drive towards sustainable innovation from both government and the building sector.


Bird-friendly glass


GlasPro UV glass makes man-made structures safer for birds. About two-thirds of South Africa is urbanised, and a wide variety of bird species are attempting to survive in these unnatural and dangerous new habits. Reflective, transparent materials such as windows cause hazardous collisions that kill millions of birds every year.

GlasPro has come up with a simple, yet effective innovation to keep them: bird-friendly glass coated with UV liquid that makes it visible to birds, which will substantially reduce the number of injured birds in urban areas. Human eyes cannot detect the UV coating, so it also does not reduce visibility from our perspective.


Buildings made of wood


Constructing any conventional home or commercial building requires tons of aluminium, steel, clay bricks and cement. There are many ways to marginally reduce the carbon footprint of these components but their manufacture has always been less than sustainable.

Architects in the United States are now exploring a new kind of structure built entirely from timber. Wood is by no means a new building material, but new innovations have once again made it relevant to modern building.

Researchers are combining new super-strong plywood, with precision digital CNC manufacturing processes to build timber structures that will rival conventional brick-and-mortar buildings very soon. While the costs of buildings like this are still high, one example of this is already here. An 18-story dormitory in Vancouver called Brock Commons, which finished construction late in last year, is the tallest timber structure in the world.


Modern twist on old practices


Researchers in Sweden have devised a way to adapt the so-called Trombe wall, a solar building design from the 19th century. This new take on an old idea can help to not only passively heat but also cool buildings, without increasing carbon emissions.

A Trombe wall is a passive solar building design that is built on the winter sun side of a building with a glass external layer and a high heat capacity internal layer separated by a layer of air. This serves to heat the entire building in cold months.

The new design, unveiled by researchers earlier this year, uses renewable wind and solar energy to generate both cooling and heating in buildings. The adjustments have also eliminated the original Trombe wall problem with overheating, which in turn has drastically reduced the total energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Constructing these walls is also sustainable, with prototypes already having been built with stone, wood and even wool. Researchers have hailed the new design of Trombe wall, as one of the best ways to meet the increasing energy demands of modern homes and commercial buildings without increasing carbon emissions.

Beyond installing state-of-the-art photovoltaic, water heating and lighting solutions, sustainable building practices offer some of the best ways to bring new structures ever closer to being carbon neutral.

Property 24 has featured this article. Read it here.

South Africa vs. New Zealand: The Sustainability Challenge

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South Africa often faces its long-time sporting rival, New Zealand, on the field and that made us wonder… If the two countries had to compete an energy challenge, who would be the champion of renewable energy resources?

Team SA

South Africa doesn’t have a long-standing track record when it comes to renewable energy production. Our efforts, however, have gained momentum over the last few years. The country’s struggles with Eskom, have motivated us to get in the renewable energy game. This drive was also powered by the global movement to find cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels.

The government is rolling out 79 renewable energy projects across the country through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPP). In 2016, 42 of these projects had already seen the light and supplied 2,000 megawatts of power.

sa sus challenge

South Africa enters the energy game with an advantage. Boasting over 2,500 hours of sunlight a year, our country is geared for solar energy production. This is something many home and business owners are benefitting from. The Eastern Cape’s Cookhouse Wind Farm Development is one of the biggest wind systems in Africa. These projects are creating jobs and cleaning up South Africa’s power supply. Currently, about 4.5% of our total energy is generated through renewable resources.

Unfortunately, coal still captains South Africa’s energy supply. Our reliance on Eskom far outweighs our renewable energy production. Although the state-owned utility has committed to a number of renewable energy projects, the country is still low on the global clean energy rankings. We’re eleventh in the world for total CO2 output from energy use. We also rank as the fifth-largest producer of climate-changing fossil fuel.

Team NZ

The Kiwis are going for gold when it comes to clean energy production. Their country is endowed with an abundance of renewable energy resources in the form of especially wind and geothermal energy.

nz sus challenge

They’re definitely making the most of it! New Zealand is aiming to shut down their last two remaining coal power plants in 2018. The aim is to generate 90% of their energy from renewables by 2025. Seeing as they already receive about 80% of their electricity from renewables, this goal is as good as in the bag.

How is the rest of the world doing?

Sweden is gunning for the title of energy world champion and aiming to become the world’s first country to use 100% renewable energy. They’ve challenged the rest of the world to beat them to it, but they’re close to scooping up the title by making huge investments in clean energy.

Denmark is also top of the ranks. In 2015, they broke the world record when 42% of the country’s power came from wind farms.

Germany is performing equally well in the clean energy challenge. As the global front-runner in solar PV capacity, the country has been able to meet as much as 78% of their daily electricity demand through solar power. Not bad for a country with more cloudy days than most!

Closer to home in Africa, Kenya is making great strides with geothermal energy and has been able to supply as much as 51% of its energy through this resource. The country is also betting on wind power and is close to completing one of Africa’s largest wind farms. It’s estimated to supply an additional 20% of renewable energy.

Upping our game

Unfortunately South Africa is not quite ready to play in the big leagues. Not if we compare ourselves to how New Zealand and the rest of the world are doing in terms of their clean energy endeavours. That, however, doesn’t mean we can’t be a strong contender in the future.

Even if we start small, at home, each of us can contribute towards making South Africa a top player in the renewable energy game. For example, a state-of-art home solar energy solution from Energy Partners could provide as much as 70% of your monthly household electricity needs. This would put you on par with the top players in the world – as well as help put SA on the renewable energy map.

Businesses urged to find alternative energy sources

By | Energy Partners in the Press | No Comments

On February 2, 2017, ENCA released a video featuring Alan Matthews, Head of Energy Partners Home Solutions. Matthews discusses why business owners will have to find alternative energy sources.

Click here to view original video on ENCA.

SMEs Increased Electricity Tariffs Looming

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Energy Partners spoke to HR Future about SMEs’ increased electricity electricity tariffs. The article features Mila Loubser (Head of Engineering Intelligence) and Cala van der Westhuizen (Spokesperson at Energy Partners.)
South Africa is still likely to see above inflation increases in electricity prices over the next few years, making it increasingly important for business owners to consider alternative sources of energy.

The large investments Eskom is currently making in infrastructure are likely to affect energy tariffs in the near future.

Since 2008 the average electricity tariffs in South Africa have increased by around 300%. According to our research, the next eight years will likely see a year-on-year tariff increase of at least 6% to 8%. In light of the upcoming 2017 Budget Speech, we are also waiting to find out if the government will introduce a new carbon tax. If this is the case, tariff increases could be as high as 13%.

SMEs should take advantage of the incentives provided for the installation of renewable energy solutions.

SMEs need to keep in mind that they can claim a percentage of the cost of solar and other renewable energy solutions back from SARS. Some banks also offer financing to their business banking clients for renewable energy solutions.

There are a number of benefits to installing solar energy solutions in small businesses, all of which contribute to reducing operating costs and downtime in the event of power outages.

A full solar solution can reduce the average SME’s electricity consumption by as much as 30%.

Reliability of energy supply is vital for SMEs. With this in mind, it is important for business owners to do a proper cost-benefit analysis to ensure that they are making the correct decisions, implementing the right energy solutions and using the optimal financing vehicle to reduce their annual energy spend.

Read the full article here.

Six of the most power-hungry home appliances

By | Energy Partners Knowledge Base | No Comments

Powering your home is as simple as flicking a switch. It requires little to no effort from you to fill the tub with warm water, reheat a meal in the microwave or brew a steaming cup of coffee. But have you thought about how much energy some of the everyday appliances in your home are using?

We’ve identified the biggest villains in your home below:

(If kWh’s make no sense to you: have a look at this follow-up article on how much energy you need to burn to power these appliances listed below.)

1. Geyser

A geyser accounts for a fat 50% of the electricity bill in many households. It consumes about 9.25 kWh, which works out to 300 kW a month!

However, there are ways to ensure your geyser doesn’t chew up a huge chunk of your monthly budget. A solar water geyser or heat pumps are much leaner on energy, which makes them great alternatives to standard geysers. You could also try and use less warm water whenever you can, for example, by taking shorter showers. This means you’ll also be doing your bit for water conservation ?  .

2. Tumble Dryer

While it’s a lifesaver on rainy laundry days, your tumble dryer devours a whopping 3 kWh.

To save on electricity, it’s best to view your tumble dryer as something you should only indulge in on occasion. Only use it when you really have to and turn to the sun to curb its energy appetite: Only do laundry on sunny days or lighten the load with an efficient home solar energy solution.

3. Oven

On average, your oven uses about 2.3 kWh. 

Luckily, in sunny South Africa, we have been born and bred to enjoy cooking meals on fires. You now have an excuse to cook outside more often!

4. Air Conditioner

Your air conditioner works very hard to keep you cool, consuming around 1.8 kWh.

In summer, you should try to acclimatise yourself by using the aircon as little as possible. Studies also show that aircons can make you sick – don’t catch sick building syndrome!

5. Swimming Pool Pump

It takes a lot of time and energy to keep a pool crystal-clear. Take your pool pump: It consumes about 1.5 kWh.

Covering your swimming pool is not only a great way to save water, but it’ll help keep your pool clean and take some of the pressure off your pump.

6. Portable Heater

In winter, temperature control proves to be equally costly, with standard portable heaters consuming as much as 1.5 kWh. 

Snuggle up with a blanket instead. Cups of hot chocolate will also assist in building up a fat reserve to get you through the coldest nights!

Another all-round great electricity-saving alternative is to install a state-of-the-art home solar energy solution. That could amount to a saving of up to 70% on your monthly electricity bill.

Want to know how hard you’d have to work to power each of the appliances above? Read our follow up article!

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Testimonial: Stephanie Stellenbosch

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Energy Partners Home Solutions have installed three systems at our home to date!

The first is a battery backup solution that provides our home with power protects our electrical appliances and ensures our security is always on during power outages. 

Stellenbosch Solar Panels House

The second system is a three phase grid-tied system that supplies our entire house with green energy when the sun shines.

Heat pump & solar panels with mountain

The third option is a heat pump system that has reduced our hot water cost with 70%.

In all of their work they have been professional and quick to react to any problem. After our geyser burst they were ready to install a new system within a few days of calling them.

Henri, the sales consultant was really helpful in managing the various installations and always being available for any questions.

Congrats on your earth friendly home Stephanie! Want follow in their footsteps? Get in touch here.

Testimonial: Mark Allderman

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My wife and I have a renovated home in Camps Bay and were looking to reduce our electricity bill, become less dependent on the Eskom/ City of Cape Town supply, and become more sustainable in our energy usage. With the rapid improvements in PV generation, and particularly storage technology, solutions are becoming more and more accessible.

We contacted Energy Partners Home Solutions on the advice of a friend in the industry, and Henri contacted us immediately to do an assessment and provide a proposal.

We were impressed with the thoroughness of the proposal in that our current needs were assessed in detail (our electricity bill was estimated within a few % points accuracy) and the proposal was presented in a clear and engaging way.

We elected to proceed with both the PV installation as well as the geyser and heat-pump installation in 2 phases.

allderman solar panels

The work was done efficiently to an impressive level of quality: all the components were carefully and neatly installed.

We were also kept abreast with progress on a regular basis, so we were never left with unanswered questions. The staff that we met were all extremely professional, and seemed to be a very happy team, which is great to see.

The hand-over of the overall solution was done extremely professionally, with a step-by-step walkthrough completed, and our (sometimes painfully detailed) questions answered. The app provided works well and is a key addition to the overall solution. We are ecstatic with our energy solution, and are hoping it provides us with years of trouble free service.

Allderman solar panels

Congrats on your earth friendly home Alldermans! Want follow in Mark’s footsteps? Get in touch here.

Our Products Video: Renewable Energy in Your Home

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In September 2016, we released our home energy solutions products video. This video showcases our products and how each unit will fit into your home. It also explains how the full modular system works during different load generation capacities.

If you were interested in a renewable energy solution for your home, fill out this quick form, and a consultant will get in touch. We’ll visit your home, do a full energy analysis and a quote with the best, unique, energy solution for your house. 0 obligations.

Renewable energy solutions designed to reduce your electricity bill whilst saving the Earth. Want to chat to us? We’d love to meet! Click here.

ESI Africa – Consumers should upgrade to home solar now

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Homeowners should switch to home solar solutions sooner rather than later. The cost savings together with financing options available makes this choice the most obvious one. Cala van der Westhuizen spoke to ESI Africa about the numbers and facts. Read the article below, or on the ESI Africa website here.

ESI Africa cover

South Africa is still likely to see above inflation increases in electricity prices over the next few years, making it increasingly important for consumers to consider alternative sources of energy for their homes.

This is according to Cala van der Westhuizen, spokesperson for Energy Partners Home Solutions, who says that even though the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) is currently reviewing the multi-year price determination methodology and working to prevent high increases, the large investments that Eskom is making in infrastructure are likely to significantly affect consumers’ pockets in the near future.

“The average increase in tariffs in South Africa since 2008 has been around 300%. According to our research, the next eight years are likely to see between at least 6% and 8% year-on-year increases in tariffs. If a carbon tax is imposed, this figure could be as high as 13%,” van der Westhuizen says.

He says that homeowners need to make a decision whether to upgrade their homes with renewable energy solutions now, if they have not done so yet. “There are affordable systems and other solutions available that enable homes to save large amounts on energy.”

At the same time, Van der Westhuizen advises that completely off-grid solutions are not economically viable yet. “While it is possible to take one’s home 100% off-grid, our research shows that this would definitely not be an optimal solution in most scenarios.”

Such systems rely on a large investment in batteries in order to cater for the worst case scenario, the few times per year when there may be three or four consecutive days without sufficient sunshine to adequately provide for the homes daily energy requirements, he says.

“If enough batteries are purchased to allow the home to operate off-grid during these periods, they will be severely under utilised the rest of the time.”

He adds that converting at least half of a household’s energy consumption to a renewable solution makes financial sense, since users will then often only have to purchase electricity from their provider at the lower usage tariffs further decreasing their average cost per kilowatt hour.

Van der Westhuizen states that efficient lighting and water heating can cost from as little as R25,000 [$1,800] and can easily save users in excess of 30% on their electricity bill.

“It is difficult to know what is likely to happen in future, which why we advocate installing a renewable solution as soon as it is sensible to do so. Homeowners are going to be losing out on savings if they wait,” concludes Van der Westhuizen.

Renewable energy in South Africa

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What are our alternatives to coal and nuclear energy in South Africa?
How viable are the alternatives?
How can renewable energy help alleviate the electric load in your house?

We’ve made an easy explainer video on your renewable energy choices in South Africa. Have a look at what your options are below:

We focus on first REDUCING your electric load with alternatives such as LED downlighters or heat pumps with super insulated hot water tanks. Our other products utilise solar as the main energy source, inverting the current stream and backing up energy to a battery for later use.

To get a free quote on solutions available to your home, fill in this quick form!