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Knee-jerk reaction or not, going green is the way to go for homeowners – one step at a time

A good starting point is for homes to have at least one JoJo tank with a pump that is connected back into the home to act as a reserve water supply. Picture: Kresh Gounder/Pixabay

A good starting point is for homes to have at least one JoJo tank with a pump that is connected back into the home to act as a reserve water supply. Picture: Kresh Gounder/Pixabay

Published Jun 21, 2022

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It is often human nature to only take action after one has suffered loss or a negative event, such as deciding to install a home alarm or panic system once they have been burgled or robbed.

The same is now being seen when it comes to installing green features in their homes.

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More people are starting to make these additions to their homes following the recent devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, and, more recently, Cape Town. The droughts in parts of the country are also a reason for residents to embrace measures that help them survive these climate challenges.

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While “resilient communities” in KZN stood together to repair damage and support those most in need during the floods, Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties area principal for Durban Coastal says it is not surprising that many are now considering implementing more sustainable green features in their homes, to ensure that they can literally weather the storms.

“If we look at current development trends, there is a strong emphasis on eco-friendly features. Most developments encourage solar panels, heat pumps and some form of water reticulation. JoJo water storage tanks are a great cost-effective way to save water and provide a back-up supply in the event of municipal shortages.”

For many, the idea is not to be fully off the grid, but rather to have water and energy ‘back-up’ solutions for times of need, and to reduce the burden on the local infrastructure.”

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Existing homes

Reynolds says a good starting point is for homes to have at least one JoJo tank with a pump that is connected back into the home to act as a reserve water supply, and to become the primary source of water for irrigation and gardening purposes.

“Depending on the size of the tank, this water solution will cost in the region of R15 000 to R20 000 for an eco-tank, a pump, and the plumbing costs to install, including a stable base or foundation for the tank.

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“This is well worth the investment for ongoing peace of mind, and to contribute towards a philosophy of promoting renewable resources.”

From a power supply perspective, she says many people are still relying on inverters as generators are noisy and costly to run, especially with the increase in fuel prices.

“Therefore, most are opting for small inverter solutions that keep the essentials in their homes running during load shedding.”

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New buildings

From a new build perspective, solar inverter systems are “probably first prize”, as they offer a hybrid solution tapping into both solar energy and municipal supply to keep batteries charged. They also satisfy our eco-friendly goals, by placing less pressure on the grid, Reynolds adds.

“It is certainly more cost-effective to install green features at the start of a building project, than to add them after-the-fact to an existing home. Consequently, it is advisable for those planning a new build or undergoing a significant home renovation, to weigh up the costs and benefits of a solar inverter system as opposed to a non-solar alternative at the time of building.”

She says the benefits of having green features are self-evident – water and electricity crises become less worrisome, and homes remain fully functional despite the failings of the country’s electricity supply or municipal service delivery.

Costs

There is currently high demand for load shedding relief solutions such as solar power, agrees Rhys Dyer, chief executive of ooba Home Loans.

“More South Africans are looking to sustainable energy solutions that offer long-term cost savings – not forgetting a higher return on investment when you do decide to sell.”

But while homeowners have expressed interest and see the clear benefits, finance has been a key barrier to entry.

“You are looking at a price tag of R100 000-plus – depending on your requirements.”

ooba Home Loans’ latest offering, however, allows homeowners to use the equity in their home loan to finance a solar solution.

Dyer explains: “We have partnered with Hohm Solar to make load shedding relief solutions accessible to our customers. We offer various modular battery backup solutions to suit your pocket – from as little as R900 per month on your monthly bond repayment. These modular systems can have solar panels added now or later – depending on your requirements.”

Resale value

Making your property more sustainable can go a long way towards attracting buyers who value these conveniences and amenities,” explains Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“Whether buying new or improving your current environment, you can make your house more sustainable with some quick changes and some thoughtful investments to save on energy, water, and maintenance costs.”

But, with so many sustainable options to choose from, it can be difficult to know what exactly you should be upgrading on your property. To help make this decision easier, RE/MAX of Southern Africa suggests that homeowners consider four essential pillars for home sustainability; namely electricity, water, waste, and self-sustainability.

  • Invest in Solar Power

Homeowners should arrange for a consultation on whether the property can easily adapt to solar power panels. This will depend on your type of roof and its exposure to the sun. In the long run, running your property on solar power will save thousands off your electricity bill and will reduce the impact of relying on non-renewable energy sources.

  • Upgrade your water-efficiency

Those with solar power will be able to heat your water sustainably without reliance on the grid. However, there are many other ways to optimise the way that your property uses this precious resource. For example, you could install a rainwater tank to reduce pressure on your local water supply systems and invest in water-wise shower heads in your bathrooms. It can also be as simple as adding a bucket to your shower to capture excess water for your garden, but if you invest in a proper greywater system to maintain your garden during times of drought, this could double as a way to invest in the resale value of the property.

  • Find out about local recycling

Look into your municipality’s recycling guidelines and speak to your local estate agent to find out about where you’re able to drop off recycling in your area. If you feel your neighbourhood is underserved, consider spearheading communications to introduce that recycling be collected from the households in your community for even more convenience.

  • Use your garden to be more self-sustainable

Those with the yard space should invest in creating a composting system to reduce the amount of waste the household creates. Investing in plants is also wonderful for naturally purifying the air, helping to dampen street noise, and can also provide shade to cool the home in summer, which in turn will lessen your property’s reliance on non-natural and expensive cooling systems. Planting your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs will also reduce your reliance on the local grocery which will reduce the amount of packaging waste your household produces.

“In South Africa, these green features are becoming increasingly popular among buyers, especially as a result of the ongoing load shedding and the prevalence of droughts in our country.” Goslett says.

Reynolds adds: “More and more, we are seeing buyers noting such features, and while it is difficult to quantify the value-added benefits of these, having back-up power and water supply solutions certainly makes homes more appealing and more sellable.”

“Going green should not only be a knee-jerk reaction to the recent disaster experienced, it should be an ongoing priority to create a communal mindset of environmentally-friendly living that is sustainable over time.”

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