«MyGreen Home Guide Based on the experience of the Ngewana family FOREWORD KADRI NASSIEP, CEO OF SANEDI ‘The best time to start is now’ Reading ...»
MyGreen Home Guide
Based on the experience of the Ngewana family
KADRI NASSIEP, CEO OF SANEDI
‘The best time to start is now’
Reading through this guide, it won’t take long before you find these words
from Lutholuthle Ngewana. It’s not a quote from a renowned African poet,
or a scientist or a politician. It’s advice from Lutho, the 17-year-old son of
the Ngewana family who took on the My Green Home challenge.
There are no better words to describe the spirit of this unique project that turned a fairly ordinary South African suburban home into a much more sustainable home, which halved energy and water consumption within a few months, and reduced their waste going to landfill by over 80%.
As the CEO of South Africa’s National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI)1, I believe that this has been a fantastic demonstration project for energy efficiency and SANEDI has taken pride in participating and sharing the outstanding results of My Green Home.
South Africa is still undergoing energy generation challenges which would be easier to overcome if every one of us helps to relieve the national power grid by saving energy at home (and at work).
My Green Home has shown that every one of us can save a substantial share of electricity, waste and water by simply being aware of high-consuming appliances in our everyday life, and by using them consciously.
Our country is blessed with gifts from nature, such as solar irradiation and biomass. So it is equally interesting to see that certain cost interventions pay for themselves over time, and this is a showcase of some of the renewable energy and corresponding technologies of the future in South Africa.
It is my great honour to introduce you to the My Green Home Guide which has been compiled by the Green Building Council of South Africa with diligence, passion and expertise and co-funded by the German Government through the South African German Energy Programme (SAGEN).
We can only sustain our life on this planet if we join the Ngewana family on the journey to change our homes to help change the world. Let us also heed Lutho’s words and start changing some life habits rather right now than tomorrow. This guide will show us how.
Kevin Nassiep CEO, South African Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) SANEDI is a state owned entity which was established under South Africa’s 2008 National Energy Act.
1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY [Webisode: https://vimeo.com/101516989] This guide is for South Africans who know they want to go green at home, but are not sure where to start. It offers practical advice organized into No-Cost, Low-Cost and Invest-to-Save categories.
The ideas are chosen for maximum impact at minimum expense and effort, using the experience of My Green Home.
The Ngewana family took on the My Green Home challenge and succeeded in reducing their electricity consumption by 53 percent, water by 44 percent, and waste to landfill by 81 percent in their suburban home, all in a few months. These were the effects of No-Cost, once-off actions and daily behaviour changes combined with a major retrofit that supplied the house with technology for energy and water efficiency. The steps recommended here will help other households that also wish to save money by going green.
For those who want to approach the greening process methodically, measuring their results, the first step is to establish a baseline. Ideally, gather a full year’s worth of records to calculate annual or, even better, seasonal average daily or monthly consumption of electricity in kilowatt hours and water in kilolitres. An eco-audit, using our recommended free tools, can help identify where most of that power and water is being used.
No-Cost changes are an obvious starting point, and allowed the Ngewana family to save 32 percent on electricity and 26 percent on water before a cent had been spent upgrading their home. Three actions that might take an hour or so can make a big impact, potentially saving the Ngewana family R4 500 over a year.
1. Lower the thermostat on an electric geyser to 55° or 60°.
2. Reduce pool pump hours to 4 to 6 hours in summer and 2 to 3 in winter.
3. Discuss with whomever does the household ironing which items truly must be wrinkle-free and which could be just smoothed and folded.
Daily behaviour changes with the greatest potential for saving are:
Set the washing machine to use cold water for all colours of clothing.
Avoid using a tumble dryer.
Switch off lights and televisions when leaving a room.
Take short showers, ideally 2 minutes long.
My Green Home defines Low-Cost changes as those requiring an outlay of less than R1 000. Two extremely cost-effective purchases are low-flow shower heads and LED light bulbs. A simple bucket test to determine whether more than 2 litres of water is caught under the shower in 12 seconds indicates whether a shower head needs to be replaced with a more efficient version. LED lights — including motion sensor lights for outdoor security — were used throughout the Ngewana home, resulting in 74 percent savings on the electricity used for lighting so far.
Other examples of important Low-Cost actions:
Purchase and use electric blankets, hot water bottles and other targeted heat sources instead of heating an entire room or house.
Set up a compost heap and/or worm farm at home or use municipal composting to reduce the impact of household organic waste on both landfills and the atmosphere.
Choose low-VOC and no-VOC paints to avoid the toxic fumes from ordinary paint.
Invest-to-Save actions may cost the most, but they often save the most, too. The Ngewanas sharply reduced their electricity use for hot water and the pool pump with the help of two important investments. A 300 litre, flat-panel solar water heater replaced the geyser in the house and helped cut water-heating costs by 61 percent, comparing March to September. (An efficient heat-pump was also installed to provide water to a shaded outbuilding with no solar potential.) And a variable-speed pool pump using just 300 watts — less than half the wattage of their previous pump — helped bring down the annual cost of running the pool by about R3 500.
The Ngewanas enjoyed major winter savings as they stopped using electric heaters entirely with the help of two investments: insulation and a closed-combustion, wood-pellet stove.
My Green Home has made ample resources available for those who want to learn more. In addition to the complete guide that follows, an abridged summary guide describes the most effective actions, and the website www.mygreenhome.org.za has a wide range of resources. The lesson of My Green Home is clear: With well-targeted changes, any South African home has the potential to become significantly more energy efficient and greener, generating savings for both the household and for the environment.
Join the family that changed their home to help change the world.
My Green Home is made possible with main co-funding from the German government through the South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN). It is also supported by the 49M campaign, Karebo Systems, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and a range of product sponsors and partner organisations.
Table of Contents Introduction
1.1 The My Green Home process, March to September 2014
1.2 Meet the family
Greening your home: Where to start
2.1 Understand your consumption and costs
2.2 Set your goals
2.3 Start saving and make a difference
If you’re building a new home...
3.1 Hot Water
3.3 Heating and Cooling
3.5 Waste and Toxics
3.6 Outdoor and Transport
4.1 Hot Water
4.3 Heating and Cooling
4.5 Waste and Toxics
4.6 Outdoor and Transport
5.1 Hot Water
5.3 Heating and Cooling
5.5 Waste and Toxics
5.6 Outdoor and Transport
Counting the savings at My Green Home
7.1 Energy efficiency
7.2 Water conservation
7.3 Waste reduction
7.4 Other benefits to the family
Appendix 1. Efficiency Plus House, Berlin
Appendix 2. Checklist for Domestic Workers
Appendix 3. Checklist for Gardeners
Appendix 4. Tests to do at home
Throughout the world, the unsustainable production of waste and pollution weighs heavily on the Earth and its inhabitants. Industry and businesses most often shoulder the blame. But middle-tohigh-income households, where well-meaning citizens try to create safe and healthy environments for their families, are also responsible for a disproportionate share of the pollution, depleted resources and waste that threaten the wider environment.
South Africa is faced with multiple challenges that highlight the importance of energy efficiency in homes. Electricity tariffs have more than tripled since 2008. The threat of load shedding looms regularly, with households being asking to reduce demand on the strained national grid. And the government has committed the country — one of world’s most carbon-intensive economies — to address climate change with a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by the year 2025, compared to a ‘business-as-usual’ trajectory.
For these reasons and more, South Africans want to find ways to make their homes more efficient and lighten their environmental footprint. But where to start?
To address the gap between the desire to ‘do the right thing’ and the knowledge and action required, representatives Green Building Council of South Africa, the South African National Energy Development Institute and the South African-German Energy Programme developed a plan for a green living challenge. My Green Home was inspired by the German Efficiency Plus House project in Berlin, (Appendix 1) in which a family moved into Germany’s most efficient model house to test it for 18 months. Their energy consumption as well as the renewable energy generated at the house was monitored very closely and gained a lot of media attention.
But in the case of My Green Home, with no super-efficient pilot house available in South Africa, a typical suburban family and their existing home were used, with a focus on achieving efficiency through education, behaviour change and retrofitted efficient technology. Their journey would be made public through social media, traditional media and the My Green Home website.
The Ngewana family, headed by two successful professionals and living in a five-bedroom suburban home, accepted the challenge. Like many South Africans, they had a strong interest in making a more positive impact on the environment and in reducing utility costs, but had not taken any major steps in that direction. Over six months in 2014, they made a remarkable transformation.
The choice of a family with incomes and a lifestyle above the South African average was intentional.
Mid-to-high income households generally use the most electricity, consume the most environmental resources and generate excessive waste and pollution — and therefore have the greatest potential to make a significant impact. The Green Building Council had previously completed a project in Cato Manor demonstrating the opportunities for efficiency improvements in low-income households. (See Case Study)3 This guide summarizes the best lessons learned in the process of helping the Ngewana family to green their home, with an emphasis on actions that have the greatest impact for the least effort and cost. The practical steps outlined here can help any South African household to share in Ngewanas’ success, to join them as a family that is changing their home to help change the world.
1.1 The My Green Home process, March to September 2014
The project was divided into three main stages:
Stage 1: The first month (March 2014) was ‘business as usual’ for the family, to establish a baseline by measuring household consumption in detail. Eight electricity meters were installed to monitor usage by lights, geyser, etc., with live updates provided on the Dashboard of the My Green Home website.4 Stage 2: During the second month (April 2014), the focus was on behaviour change. The family receiving training on No-Cost interventions and was challenged to see how much they could reduce their consumption through behaviour change alone. They rose to the challenge, reducing electricity consumption by 32 percent.
Stage 3: The retrofit took place during the third month (May 2014), installing energy efficient technologies—such as new lighting, appliances and a solar water heater—as well as other greening interventions. Results were monitored closely through September 2014.
3 www.gbcsa.org.za/knowledge/case-studies/?cat=87 (scroll down) 4 mygreenhome.org.za/webisode/count-the-savings/
The parents (Bulelwa and Zwelethu) are professionals in high-profile jobs, with two children (Thulisa, aged 22 and Lutho, 17), and a niece (Unam, 14) who spends weekends with them. A domestic worker, Vanessa, works in the home six days a week. She also received training and was requested to actively participate in the project.