Don’t opt for solar energy before you’ve optimised your home. Part 1.

Don’t opt for solar energy before you’ve optimised your home. Part 1.

By Jack Ward, CEO of Soltra Energy

Around one third of the average household’s monthly electricity bill is linked to the hot water geyser. Why does an electric geyser use so much energy?

The domestic geyser holds its water at a set temperature for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most likely the setting is unnecessarily high. The default setting for most geysers sold in South Africa is around 65°C.

People don’t have 65°C showers but your hot water is maintained at this steaming temperature awaiting your pleasure. First thing you do is add cold water to get the temperature ‘just right’.

Not only is this inefficient, but most safety-conscious people will say it’s not safe to have tap water that hot when children or aged people are in the house.

Your geyser also uses too much energy because it is switched on when you don’t need it – when you are at work or sleeping. Moreover, geysers are inherently inefficient and use more energy than they theoretically should. This is often because the thermostat allows the water temperature to fluctuate between 55°C – 65°C, using unnecessary amounts of power in the process.

The first step towards optimising your home is to transform your ‘dumb’ hot water system into a much smarter version of itself with a CarbonTRACK system.

CarbonTRACK monitors your energy consumption in real-time, giving you a better understanding of your electricity usage patterns and how to enhance them. CarbonTRACK will regulate the heating cycle and put you in control.

For example, with CarbonTRACK you can remotely switch your hot water system on and off, set timers for its operation and change the default temperature (even a 10-degree difference will help you save without impacting your comfort) from anywhere in the world.

CarbonTRACK’s user dashboard allows you to track and benchmark your energy consumption and make informed decisions related to improving areas of inefficiency, helping you cut back on wasted electricity.

Once you’re on the road to meaningful energy savings with a CarbonTRACK, cost reducing programme, the next step to take before considering a state-of-the-art solar energy system is to replace your old, perhaps rusty geyser with a modern heat pump. Where a geyser uses three units of electrical energy to produce three units of heat energy, a heat pump converts just one unit of electrical energy into four units of heat energy. I’ll explain how this works in my next blog.