Power-saving all the rage

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Organisations across the board are leveraging their particular strengths to help citizens get a handle on their energy habits, using a variety of incentivised approaches.

Electronics firm Ellies, for example, has completed its first contract with Eskom to remove 45MW from the national grid, which saw it install energy-efficient lighting in over 200 000 homes.

Project Power Save is a joint initiative between Eskom and Ellies' Renewable Energy division, and intends to reduce the amount of electricity consumed in the country. As part of the project, Ellies replaced incandescent and halogen bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LEDs, as well as installed geyser timers and water-efficient showerheads, at no cost to the homeowner.

The first phase of the project began on 6 February, and was completed on 27 March, four days ahead of schedule. Just over 270 000 homes were visited, and Ellies Renewable Energy also trained members of the community so they could be employed as installers. To date, almost 2 900 individuals have been trained and employed.

On 1 April, Ellies started a new extension of phase one, which ends on 30 June and aims to reduce energy consumption by a further 30MW. This extension of the project aims to visit roughly 140 000 additional homes and employ another 500 installers.

Free for all

Ellies CEO Wayne Samson says this project speaks to the stability of the country's power supply and the need for consumer action. “South Africans need to catch up to the rest of the world in terms of conserving energy. We hope this project helps get them used to new technology, and that when the time for replenishment comes, they carry on with equipment that's energy-saving rather than energy-sapping.”

Eskom will rebate the cost of all units replaced in homes, as part of its 'Mass residential roll-out' funding assistance programme. Under this scheme, Eskom will remunerate Ellies for every watt saved.

All households around the country qualify for free replacements and are encouraged to participate to help decrease power demands and benefit from long-term savings. Homeowners wanting to get involved can log onto the Ellies Renewable Energy Web site and provide their details, after which Ellies will contact an installer in the relevant area. Alternatively, they can call 0861 355 437. The company adds that households need to check the accreditation of the installer before allowing them into their homes.

Users can also get information on how to save energy and use less water on the site, and sign up for an energy audit. The audit involves an Ellies consultant visiting the homeowner to determine their home's specific energy habits, pitfalls and opportunities.

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the national 49 million power-saving initiative, whereby Eskom is working with various business and government partners to promote energy-saving ideas and tips for the public.

Facing up

Facebook, meanwhile, debuted an online energy-saving app this week, in partnership with the National Resources Defence Council and Opower, a customer engagement platform for utilities.

According to Facebook, the app will initially reach around 20 million households in the US and allow homes to keep track of their electricity usage. It also involves an element of friendly competition, by allowing people to “quickly and easily start benchmarking their home's energy use against similar homes”.

Users will be able to form teams and compete against friends and family, with incentives provided by utility partners.

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