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It’s no secret that consumers are feeling the full brunt of South Africa’s struggling energy supply. Along with fuel price increases, crippling food prices and interest rates skyrocketing, it comes as little surprise that many of us are looking for alternatives. Some point to their utility bills, others show frustration over how unreliable their power supply is at home or in the workplace. But is there really a cheaper substitute?

In a word: Yes… but only if one views it as a matter of long-term investment, rather than immediate solution. This is due to the fact that the cost of energy storage still represents a major stumbling block to the average South African household. Granted, either the eco-warriors or extremely wealthy will find a way to rid themselves of Eskom, but the reality is that your average suburban home is not able to support this type of venture. Unless we consider the year on year tariff increases as an accumulated amount over a couple of decades, it simply does not make economic sense.

As with many other matters, our rose-tinted glasses tell us that estate living could provide the solution; albeit in the form of a hybrid dynamic. Firstly, estate developers can insist on energy saving globes or LED-based lighting for their turnkey options. Secondly, whilst large storage batteries are unsightly and beyond the means of the average family; it becomes a realistic possibility in a sectional title development where the cost may be subsidized through resident levies and the batteries stored in a concealed section of the estate.

The privatisation of power in South Africa has started. That’s a fact. It’s comparatively well developed in parts of Africa where remote villages are unsustainable without it. From July 2016, Eskom is expected to ask the National Energy Regulator to approve a 25% tariff hike and already, body corporates and developers the country over have spotted a gap in the residential market.

Does this mean that living completely off the grid is probable? Possible? Advisable? For now, it seems that the best answer would be the best of both worlds. Present day infrastructure (or lack thereof) suggests that the sensible answer would be using alternative energy sources during load shedding and peak pricing hours. Otherwise, give the professionals a call to fit your solar or battery source for appliances such as washing machines, TVs and stoves; vastly reducing your Eskom bill and also doing your bit to save the environment while you’re at it.       



Author Gated Estates
Published 26 Apr 2016 / Views -
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