Energy efficiency is the effort to reduce the amount of energy required to provide heating, cooling and light.
For example, a building uses less heating and cooling energy to maintain a comfortable temperature if insulated.
Fluorescent lights reduce the amount of energy required to attain the same level of illumination as traditional incandescent light bulbs. In addition, compact fluorescent lights use two-thirds less energy and may last 6 to 10 times longer than incandescent lights.
Adopting a more efficient technology or production process achieves improvements in energy efficiency.
There are various different motivations to improve energy efficiency. Reducing energy use reduces energy costs and may result in financial cost savings for consumers. Furthermore, Reducing energy use is also seen as a key solution to the problem of reducing emissions.
According to the International Energy Agency, improved energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world’s energy needs in 2050 by one third. This would help control global emissions of greenhouse gases.
Deciding whether to buy or to go for renovation can be a difficult decision. Both have their pros and cons. Both can cost a lot of money and there are many pitfalls to negotiate. You can do it on your own, or you can hire an expert. The decision is yours!
It’s is a fact that the lack of energy efficiency of normal residential geysers results in the use up to 30% of the electricity in water heating. This and uninsulated homes can result in the use of up to 60% of the electricity used in a home! This has resulted in the move to solar and other reusable energy sources.
Eskom, once regarded as the country’s greatest state asset, has dragged the economy down with its load shedding. Power shortages and load shedding in the last years have galvanised the South African Government to take measures to secure energy efficiency in industrial, commercial and residential facilities.
The National Climate Change Response White Paper also commits South Africa to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere within a time frame that is compatible with sustainable development.
To lessen load shedding and reduce the demand for energy usage, the government has introduced energy-saving regulations.
Regulations governing energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is now law! As from 11 November 2011, new buildings and extensions are required to be energy efficient in terms of SANS 10400-XA Energy Usage in Buildings and SANS 204 Energy Efficiency in buildings.
Energy efficiency focuses on the energy usage of buildings once completed. The following impact on energy efficiency:
window sizes and positions
thermal and insulation properties of materials used
The new regulations stipulate planning and design requirements. SANS 10400-XA provides the ‘deemed-to-satisfy’ requirements to comply with the National Building Regulations regarding energy usage.
This regulation specifies the design requirements for energy efficiency. A building meeting these requirements does not overheat or lose heat excessively. Moreover, the regulation addresses building orientation, correct positioning and size of windows, use of natural light, natural heating in winter, natural cooling in summer and general insulation.
When energy efficiency is part of the design it is cost-effective. There is no need for expensive double glazing for south-facing windows or extra shading for west-facing windows.
Of course, the following is also applicable to existing homeowners who would like to make their homes more energy-efficient!
How can you make your home more energy efficient?
The biggest change of the regulation is to the insulation of roofs. Roofs have the biggest impact on energy efficiency. The correct amount of insulation will save 30 – 40% on heating costs.
In Zones 1 and 4, the requirement is R3.7, with slightly lower requirements in the other zones. As an example, a concrete tile roof in Zone 1 will require an additional 3.3 of R-value by adding insulation.
This equates to around 150mm of typical cellulose fibre insulation (Think Pink Aerolite etc.), higher than previously specified!
Look through the trapdoor in your ceiling. If there is a minimum thickness of insulation, incorrectly placed insulation or none at all, this should be your first step to become more energy efficient! Don’t be bluffed by claims of good insulation with refective tile underlays. They are only effective in reducing the radiant heat in summer and have very little effect in winter when you need insulation the most!
Climatic zone map | Differentiation by climatic zone is an integral part of the regulations
Energy efficiency in hot water heating
50% of all hot water in new houses must now be produced other than by an electrical heating element. Although solar water heating geysers still use some electricity they do fall within this stipulation. Therefore, solar water heating systems or a heat exchange heat pump must supply all hot water.
Solar panels and geysers use the sun’s radiation to generate heat. The amount of solar energy collected depends on the size of the solar panel. A 3m² solar panel connected to a 150L geyser produces 150L of 60°C water, on a sunny day.
The hot water produced by the solar panels is usually used up by showers, baths and dishwashing in the evening. As a result, there is no hot water for the morning. In addition, on less sunny days it may only produce 150L at 35°C. Therefore, an electrical element is required for hot water for morning use and less sunny days.
Electrical elements do supplement most solar water geysers. However, a properly sized solar water heater still has high energy efficiency producing savings of 50% on water heating bills.
Hot water heat pumps
Domestic hot water heat pumps work differently. The heat pump uses a small amount of electricity to extract a lot of energy from the surrounding air. The heat pump therefore indirectly uses solar energy. In addition, it is also able to produce hot water continuously. A high-efficiency heat pump takes approximately 1½ hours to re-heat a 150L geyser.
The heat pump produces 400% more heating energy than it uses in electrical energy. Therefore, it’s energy efficiency results in a 75% saving on water heating costs. Furthermore, it can be connected to existing geysers!
A light point symbol on floor plans previously indicated light positions. Lighting is now specified in building plans. Furthermore, the specification also gives consideration to light levels, energy demand and energy consumption.
UseCLF and LED globes to replace normal light bulbs. CLF bulbs use 65% less energy to produce the same lighting as a normal light bulb. LED lighting consumes 75% less energy. In addition, a CLF bulb lasts 10 times and a LED bulb 25 times longer than a normal light bulb.
The impact of the energy efficiency regulations
Building costs will increase as a result of the new energy efficiency regulations. However, homeowners should recoup these costs and more in the savings generated over time.