File photo: The Ngewana family tackle their electricity-hungry geyser use from all sides. The main house has a sunny, north-facing roof, so a Solartech solar water heater serves the bathrooms and kitchen.
File photo: The Ngewana family tackle their electricity-hungry geyser use from all sides. The main house has a sunny, north-facing roof, so a Solartech solar water heater serves the bathrooms and kitchen.

Eskom se push: Try these eco-friendly ways to get off the grid

By Supplied Time of article published Nov 9, 2021

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South Africans have been experiencing another wave of load shedding, and while national power provider Eskom is trying hard to stay on track, the promised land of a stable power supply is far-off.

"Off-grid" living has become more important than ever, and South Africans are adding a host of known and new technologies to their lives.

New homeowners are looking to implement power-saving strategies, both to ensure a reliable energy source and for the wider goal of averting climate change.

“There are a multitude of alternate methods for ‘living off the grid’,“ said Ryan McFie of McFie Drafting and Architectural Services.

“The sun (solar) is at present the best and most abundant form of renewable energy, especially in South Africa. With technology improving as fast as it is, it’s becoming more affordable and realistic to utilise.”

Many homes are taking on all the basic solar strategies as a starting point, in order to conserve and generate power.

“The idea is to regulate your homes temperature during summer and winter months without having the need to use electricity” said McFie.

Entry-level installations include solar heating direct to geyser, roof insulation, geyser blankets, and gas instead of electricity for stoves and heaters.

Even adding strategic window awnings to make full use of natural light and heat is a new staple add-on.

The pool pump is the second-highest electricity consumer (after the geyser), but you can slash its energy use by more than 80% by switching to an efficient pump and reducing operating hours. Picture: Supplied

“You can do this by adding awnings to your east (morning) and west (evening) facing windows” said McFie.

On the home technology front, solar electricity generation with battery bank storage offers a new way to power the home.

JoJo tanks for rainwater harvesting makes for an independent water source, and solar powered borehole and pressure pumps further take the water system off the Eskom meter.

Under certain conditions, even methane gas collection from septic tanks is becoming a viable addition to the home, as well as wind-energy harvesting in the right areas.

Load shedding or not, getting off the grid and going green makes sense on every front.

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