The City of Cape Town has launched its Residential Solar Water Heater Accreditation Programme to encourage the faster roll-out of High Pressure Solar Water Heaters (HPSWH). It is hoped that this programme will motivate residents with electric geysers to go green and reduce their consumption of electricity.
The City’s research shows that there are approximately 220 000 electric hot water cylinders in use in private properties across the city and that residents would benefit from replacing them with solar water heaters.
It is hoped that the City’s Residential Solar Water Heater Accreditation Programme will assist with the installation of between 60 000 – 150 000 high pressure solar water heaters over the next five years.
This innovative accreditation programme aims to make it easier and more affordable for residents with electric geysers to switch to renewable energy.
Residents will now be able to easily find a City-accredited solar water heater installer, who has gone through a careful process of vetting.
Some of the major banks and other financial institutions have furthermore agreed to support the City’s programme by offering finance to creditworthy consumers, thereby eliminating the up-front costs of purchasing a solar water heater. This will allow the electricity savings from using the solar water heater to offset the instalment payments.
The City has made ‘Energy for a Sustainable City’ one of its eight strategic focus areas in its Integrated Development Plan. Heating water is the largest consumer of electricity in a typical Cape Town household with an electric geyser. A solar water heater can cut the overall electricity bill by one-third or more. Residential electricity consumption is responsible for a massive 43% of the total electricity consumption in Cape Town (commercial use is 40% and industrial consumption is 13%) and this is unsustainable.
A 25% to 40% reduction by households with electric geysers would make a considerable difference.
The City recently accredited 20 solar water heater service providers. Key criteria for accreditation include the stimulation and growth of the local HPSWH component manufacturing capacity and job creation in the Western Cape.
Central to this programme is the independent verification of quality which derives from the SABS mark on the products and SANS accreditation standards for the actual installations. These are required for certificates of compliance for the quality of the plumbing and electrical installations and to secure the financing by the banks.
The accredited service providers have also agreed to uphold a code of conduct on quality, service and how they respond to complaints.
The City will operate a Solar Water Heater Programme Unit to ensure quality standards are maintained and to assist in the resolution of any possible disputes between consumers and suppliers.
‘The City’s market research has shown that the majority of the respondents (71,7%) indicated that they would most trust the City of Cape Town to endorse a list of accredited suppliers of solar water heaters.
‘There has been a willingness to move towards energy-efficient water heating systems in the past but the switch from an electric geyser to a solar water heater has been cumbersome, confusing, and costly upfront.
‘This programme now makes it possible for residents to call an accredited service provider who has met all of the City’s stringent requirements for a successful solar water heater installation,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environment and Spatial Planning, Councillor Garreth Bloor.
The City’s Electricity Saving Campaign has been underway for the past three years. A most recent focus is the “Invest to Save” component of the campaign, designed specifically to encourage the installation of HPSWHs by residential property owners with electric geysers.
Those applicants who did not succeed to be accredited this time around, or who did not apply, will be encouraged to apply in February 2014 when the second call for solar water heater service providers will be published.
‘Using a solar water heater is the way of the future. We know that the time has come to prioritise the reduction of our energy usage. This, coupled with the escalating cost of electricity, means that we need as many residents as possible to get on board with this campaign,’ said Councillor Bloor.
- For more information, please visit www.SavingElectricity.org.za or call the City’s Solar Water Heater Programme Unit on 021 487 2010.