Comprehensive survey into residential adoption of solar water heating systems launched

Posted on June 23, 2011

The most comprehensive survey to date in South Africa into the residential adoption of solar water heating systems by middle and high income earners has been launched by an honours student at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

Sian Adams hopes the survey will identify what factors prompted South Africans to adopt solar water systems for their homes in the past, and what will most effectively influence those still considering solar to invest in the technology. Her research is backed by SESSA, the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa. A non-profit organisation dedicated to the creation and continued growth of an authoritative renewable energy hub, SESSA believes the results will enable it and its members to be more effective when communicating the benefits of solar to potential customers. "Geysers in homes account for the lion's share of electricity consumption said manager of SESSA's Cape Town office, Robin Thomson. "Switching to solar in existing homes could save 30% on the average household's monthly electricity bill by reducing the amount of electricity used by a geyser by about 70%. A standard 200 litre solar heating system saves an average of 2600 kWh per year compared with an electric geyser. This is worth R19 700 in electricity savings over five years, and at least R30 000 over seven years. "Obviously, embracing solar in new developments will result in lower spend on energy from the word go. If you invest in a solar heating system instead of spending about R7 500 on an electric geyser, you could 'more than double your money' over seven years. "You'd think a cost-benefit argument like this would be sufficient to convince home owners to invest in solar technology, yet sales figures from our members suggest otherwise. "There are other factors at play - a rapidly changing market place, competing technologies and possibly not having enough people to ask for references on the actual savings achieved. Understanding these will assist our members to tailor their solutions so that uptake of solar as a reliable, responsible and sustainable energy source is quickened. "Not only will a thriving solar water heating sector contribute much to the development of South Africa's green economy, it will relieve pressure on the country's electricity grid and help reduce its carbon footprint. Once people have converted to solar, we don't ever expect them to go back! "he said. SESSA is appealing to homeowners throughout the country - those who have or haven't  installed a solar water heating system and those who are thinking about it - to do their part for a 'greener' South Africa by clicking to /s: "Solar makes sense and cents, especially in sunny South Africa, so have your say about what pushes your solar buttons, or what about solar leaves you cold," said Thomson. 

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