Call to incentivise energy savings in homes

The public outcry at Eskom’s proposed additional large scale increases in the electricity price means these are likely to be toned down by the National Energy Regulator, but it’s already clear from market feedback that energy efficient residential properties are in demand and will become increasingly so.

Colleen Gray, MD of CENTURY 21 South Africa, says that adequate provision for emergency back-up power and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) will also give properties an edge in the marketplace, particularly if the Small Office Home Office (SOHO) trend gathers renewed momentum.

“We have had a relatively stable power supply situation for some time now, ironically helped by the economic slowdown which has reduced demand and increased Eskom’s reserves.

“However as the economy gathers steam again, power demand will naturally increase and we are still a long way from seeing the first of the new mega power stations come into operation. Power supplies could therefore become more erratic and I would expect to see demand for energy-independent properties growing proportionately.”

And in this scenario, she says, it would surely make sense to incentivise low-energy homes. “In the UK for instance, there are tax allowances for energy saving devices and improvements and every house sold has to be rated for its energy efficiency and is priced accordingly.

“There is no indication yet of similar moves by the SA government on this issue – other than threats to impose premiums on over-usage. To its credit, though, Eskom has taken the initiative by subsidising the installation of solar geysers.

“We also hear that Eskom has identified 200 energy-saving specialist companies countrywide for co-operation with its demand-side management division in prioritising energy audits for non-residential property-owners. It’s time we saw something similar in terms of residential property.

“In fact, what is called for is a national strategy rather than the ad hoc attempts by disparate role players to save energy in homes. Government’s National Energy White Paper, due shortly, may point the way but in the interim the widespread belief will persist that huge electricity price increases could be avoided if more energy-saving incentives for property owners could be introduced.“

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