Picture: Mike Blake/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town - Increasing tariffs, load shedding and water scarcity paint a bleak picture for homeowners who are reliant on the South African grid. The upside, however, is that these issues are forcing many to go green, downsize or seek self-sustainable homes with energy-saving alternatives and greener living solutions.

Eskom’s proposed 15% increase over three years for consumers has, for instance, seen a growing number of homeowners seriously considering ways to get off the electricity grid. However, the cost of investing in a solar and green solution remains high and “probably unaffordable for most South Africans”, says Herschel Jawitz, chief executive Jawitz Properties.

“In reality, more and more people will most likely find ways to use less electricity, which will impact on Eskom’s revenue and ability to invest in supplying cheaper electricity. The real issue is competition. South Africa needs more than one supplier. 

Brett John Petzer, the founder of the Green Housing Company which assists homeowners and businesses to find green solutions for their homes and buildings, says water scarcity and electricity issues are a worldwide phenomenon.

“In Joburg, in particular, with an ageing electricity infrastructure, we are heading back to ferocious load-shedding. I predict weeks on end of no electricity, not just an hour here and there”. He says his clients call him in to do a complete green audit, but because the costs to get completely off the grid range from R250 000 to R450 000, many do it in stages. 

“We find people are taking what they would spend on Eskom and converting that into a finance package to pay for equipment to get off the grid."

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