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In the know

PV CASE STUDY: from 2800kWh per month to 190kWh per month

Teresa and Christo explain how their family of four, living in Lakefield, Benoni took the proverbial energy bull by the horns and slayed it.

From the outset our objective was to reduce our electricity usage and implement energy-efficiency measures in order to get ‘PV-ready’. This allowed us to buy a smaller and less expensive PV system by becoming more energy efficient first.   Our Eskom grid usage prior to any energy saving measures was as follows:

  • kWh/month: 2 800
  • Cost/kWh: R1.42
  • Our electricity bill: R3 976

After the installation of the two retrofit solar geysers our usage dropped dramatically:

  • kWh/month: Dropped from 2800kWh to 1284kWh
  • Our electricity bill: R1 823
  • Saving per month: R2 153

The two solar geysers alone saved us around 1500kWh of electricity every month (50kwh per day) – a monthly saving of over R2 000.  We also implemented the following electricity-saving measures:

  • Low-flow shower heads, reducing the amount of hot water we use.
  • Replaced all light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs.
  • When we upgraded out kitchen, we replaced our electric stove with a gas hob.
  • We changed our pool timer to run at the minimum necessary per day to keep it clean.
  • When our fridge packed up, we replaced it with an A+ energy efficient model.

With all the ground work done to get ready for PV, we then installed a 3.5kWh solar array PV system with a 5kWh inverter in January 2015. Our combined efforts between solar water heating, PV and energy saving measures have brought our electricity consumption down dramatically:

  • Current kW/month: 190
  • Our electricity bill: R300 – R350 pm

Here’s a look at the combined savings we have achieved to date:

  • Solar geysers only (2010-2015): R130 000.00 – the solar geysers paid for themselves in 18 months of savings.
  • PV, solar geysers and other efficiency measures combined from 2015-2017:  R105 600 over 2 years (R4 400 per month at current rate of R1.75/kWh)
  • Combined savings to date: R235 000

Consider the cost savings going forward that we will put in our pockets, starting at our current electricity rate of R1.75/kWh, factoring in an escalation of 20%/pa if Eskom gets its way:  

  • R56 700 in year 1
  • R68 040 in year 2
  • R81 648 in year 3
  • R97 200 in year 4
  • R116 640 in year 5

Cumulatively we will save ourselves almost R400k over the next five years, over and above the R235k we have saved already.  I challenge anyone to show me this kind of investment return anywhere else.

We generate virtually all our electricity requirements ourselves, for free, from the sun by means of solar geysers and a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for electricity generation. It’s the very best investment we have made into our property when you consider that we are saving hundreds of thousands of Rands over the next five years and beyond, and it’s also added a cool 20% to our property value in an independent valuation.

We financed our PV solution

If you consider that if we had done nothing, we would be paying around R4 700 per month for the same amount of electricity today, going the renewable route and funding our capital costs on a loan option through our monthly savings was a no-brainer for us.

We are funding our investment into PV entirely out of our savings on grid electricity, plus we still have around R1 500 spare left over in our pockets every month. Once the loan is paid off, it’s all straight back into our pockets and we have an asset that will keep saving us money for the next 20 years and more. And when we retire, finding the money to pay for electricity bills every month will be one less thing to worry about.