Rewarding the energy savers

South Africa could take a leaf out of the UK property market by introducing incentives to encourage energy saving in homes.

“The issue is extremely relevant right now with SA battling to meet electricity demand,” says Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group.

He says that industry is the biggest user of electricity, and as a result, the sector enjoys indirect energy saving incentives in the form of broad-based investment allowances for capital equipment.

Points awarded

Yet while residential energy demand accounts for a large chunk of electricity consumption in the country, "there are absolutely no incentives to curb usage other than the direct cost of electricity".

The recently-introduced UK system is based on awarding points for energy-saving measures in domestic residences and its application has the effect of enhancing the marketability and value of a property.

“In one instance I came across in the UK recently, an eco scheme with 172 flats next to Brighton station has incorporated a host of energy-saving devices and the units are in strong demand and are realising good prices as a consequence.”

A possible vehicle for a similar points system in this county could be the National Energy Efficiency Agency, established last year by the minister of minerals and energy, he adds.

Eskom campaigns

“Its brief was to oversee consumer-driven energy efficiency projects and promotional campaigns by Eskom and other entities in the country."

In terms of the UK system, energy saving points are awarded for the likes of double glazing of windows and roof insulation. Kotzé believes similar ideas could be introduced locally and possibly incentivised through, for example, electricity rate discounts or tax allowances.

“The fact is, SA’s energy resources: coal, electricity, gas and liquid fuels, are not limitless and the growth of the residential property market along with all other sectors of the economy has caused a huge strain on power supply capacities.

"A different approach towards energy saving in the residential market would clearly go a long way towards the goal of containing overall energy consumption and conserving sources of energy.”

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