26 April 2010

Going Green: installing a solar-powered geyser

This morning workmen came to install a solar-powered geyser in our house. It's a cold and rainy day and winter is approaching, so I'm not sure if we'll see the benefit immediately, but it will be interesting to see if the electricity bills are reduced after a few months.

Val saved her annual bonus, and Eskom, the national electricity supplier, offers subsidies to encourage people to install them. As most of our electricity comes from coal-fired power stations, it should make a difference to carbon-dioxide emissions if lots of people take advantage of their offer. We'll have to see how well it works after a few months.

Another advantage is that it puts the geyser outside. Our all-electric one is under the roof and just over a cupboard, and every three or four years it leaks, and everything in the cupboard is wrecked. So for the last couple of years the cupboard has been empty, and everything that was in it has been piled on the floor.

The new one has a supplementary electric element, which is switched on by a timer in the early morning, when people need hot water for washing. But during the day and early evening the sun should do the job. It also has an electric override switch, in case it rains for a week or two.

We got quotations from three different firms for the installation, and opted for African Emissions Trading, which was the cheapest when the Eskom subsidy is taken into account. It was also the closest to where we live, in case we need to call on them for repairs and maintenance. If the system is working well after six months or so, we'll recommend them! I'd also be interested to hear from others who have installed solar-powered geysers, on how well they work etc.

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