Government mandated power outages for South Africans are to be part of our lives for many years to come. As we complain and our economy suffers one might think that many people and organisations of reasonable means are installing solar systems. This is not so.
Barriers to entry are certainly perceived high cost, but also general lack of knowledge of how these systems work.
One of the frequently asked questions about The Gorgeous Green House is ‘how much did your solar system cost’?
I’ve learned that if I answer the question directly people’s eyes tend to glaze over and they mentally check out of the conversation. I wish to challenge people to think differently about the subject as it may lead to a different set of conclusions (and hopefully actions!). So I now answer that question with the following questions:
- Do you know what you are currently paying for electricity? (you would be surprised at how many people can’t answer this question)
- Do you know what increases are on the cards going forward?
- Have you drawn up a spreadsheet to really get to grips with what you will be spending over the next few years?
We did this exercise, and based on our rather shocking, (but not unusual) $200.00 (aprox. R2000.00) per month electricity bill, we projected our forward costs based on the 12.2% increase that we experienced this year and the 25% increase that ESKOM are asking for. As we have installed, these costs are now savings.
This is what it looks like in South African Rands (divide by 10 for a rough conversion to American dollars):
Old (Non-eco) House Electricity Account:
Aprox 2 000.00 per month
|12.2 % Annual Increase||Accumulative Saving||25% Annual Increase||Accumulative Saving|
|2014||24 000.00||24 000.00|
|2015||26 880.00||50 880.00||30 000.00||54 000.00|
|2016||30 105.56||80 985.56||37 500.00||91500.00|
|2017||33 337.48||114 323.04||46 875.00||138 375.00|
|2018||37 899.46||152 222.50||58 593.75||196 968.75|
|2019||42 523.19||194 745.69|
Like us, you may be rather shocked at how much you will be spending on electricity over the next few years. The reality is, however, that South African’s have benefited from relatively low rates compared to the rest of the world and on that score we have little to complain about.
Our government’s solution to our energy crises is the building of even more filthy, polluting coal powered stations and extremely controversial nuclear stations. The science shows us that with some political will and sensible interventions we can avoid these options with healthy, earth affirming renewable energy systems. Starting at home seems like a good place to begin.
If you do you sums as above the next step would be to consult a reputable solar provider for a quote. You may be very surprised at the ROI time frame. Ours will be somewhere between 4 and 5 years. If your quote to go ‘off grid’ is not possible, why not start smaller. You can add to and expand your system very easily as your means allow. In the meantime at least benefit from avoiding the incessant power failures!
We plan to be in our house for many years so relatively soon we will be scoring financially and using electricity in a way that serves our concern for the health of the planet!
In addition, we continue to lobby our authorities to implement systems to pay small scale electricity generators for their excess electricity as this will offer further incentive to others to get on board. Watch this space!