Electric vs Gas vs Solar
If you are building or renovating, you have a number of energy options. Depending on where you live you will generally be able to choose from:
- Electricity – available to most South African homes
- Gas – LP gas widely available in most areas of South Africa. Limited supply of piped or Natural Gas in some city areas and not all all in rural areas.
- Solar – widely available, however, the benefits of installing solar panels will vary depending on a number of environmental factors.
Advantages and Disadvantages
All three energy sources – electricity, gas and solar – have advantages and disadvantages.
- Electricity is the most widely available energy source and can run all household appliances, but is rapidly becoming an increasingly more expensive and unreliable source of energy in South Africa.
- LP Gas is less expensive than electricity and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. It is frequently used for heating water and room heating. Natural/ Piped Gas, however, is not as widely available as electricity. Gas appliances are generally very energy efficient and cost far less to run than electrical appliances. Gas appliances will pay for themselves in electrical savings, in a relatively short space of time.
- Solar energy is a renewable energy source and produces no greenhouse gas emissions during the generation of energy. It can be used to either supplement or replace gas and electricity. Solar energy systems, however, require a significant upfront investment and cannot be installed at all premises. In addition, Solar Energy systems may not offer a constant energy supply in areas with very changeable weather conditions. Solar Energy Systems need to be regarded as a long-term investment to your property and will not pay for themselves over the short-term.
Choosing the most energy efficient appliances
You can make energy efficiency gains (and help reduce your energy bills) in your household or business by choosing the most energy efficient appliances for your needs within your budget.
Solar hot water systems can provide between 50 and 90% of your hot water needs. Electric or gas boosters are used when insufficient solar energy is generated.
- Gas Geysers burn either Natural Gas (also called mains or reticulated gas) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (also called LPG, usually bottled). Gas Geysers produce about a third of the greenhouse gas emissions of electric storage hot water systems. Gas Geysers are very cost and energy efficient because they only use gas when hot water is actually being used.
Advanced Gas Heaters, like Paloma, Eskabe and Rinnai are cheaper to run than electric heaters and produce around a third of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Gas Roll-About Heaters ( the sort which a 9kg LP Gas cylinder fits into & has wheels underneath) are not particularly gas efficient.
Fans are the cheapest cooling appliance to buy and run. You can buy cheap pedestal (standing) fans or have an electrician install ceiling fans.
Dual gas/ electric powered freezers and fridges offer the ideal solution to the increasingly unreliable electricity supply in South Africa.
- Gas cook tops are generally cheaper to use, have more responsive controls, and produce less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of a standard electric cook top. Gas ovens are also cheaper to run and produce less greenhouse gas than an equivalent electric model.