The U.S. Mission to South Africa: Solar water heaters and other greening initiatives
The U.S. Mission to South Africa’s greening program, led by an interagency Mission Green Team, supports the President’s mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in US government facilities while helping South Africa meet its energy efficiency goals. South Africa hosted the COP-17 UN Climate Change Conference in December 2011 and has made a significant national commitment to reducing carbon emissions and pursuing a cleaner energy development path. The Mission’s greening program fully supports these goals. Major projects include installing solar hot water heaters on Embassy residences, replacing standard lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs, and operating a successful in-house recycling program.
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Solar Water Heaters: Your hot shower courtesy of the sun
In 2010, South Africa’s national power company Eskom launched a rebate program to encourage homeowners to install solar hot water heaters as part of its demand-side management strategy. GSO and Facilities took advantage of this opportunity, and last year began installing solar water heaters on Embassy residences, saving 25% on purchase costs through the rebate program. To date approximately 100 residences have been converted to solar water heaters. State, ICASS, USAID, CDC and HHS are participating in this interagency energy efficiency program. The Embassy also installed solar hot water recirculation systems at the Ambassador’s and Deputy Chief of Mission’s residences, each replacing 10 electric water heaters. The solar water heaters are expected to reduce energy consumption significantly and will save the U.S. Government up to 40% on residential electrical bills.
Besides saving money for the USG, the Mission’s solar water heater project supports South Africa’s energy efficiency and climate change policy goals. 90% of South Africa’s electricity is generated from coal, making it one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world. The government’s target is to install 1 million solar water heaters nationwide to reduce demand for electricity and lower CO2 emissions. Reducing demand will also lower emissions of other harmful pollutants from coal-fired power plants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and particulates.
Recognizing the high energy demands of its residential security lighting, post purchased and installed Light Emitting Diode (LED) security lights which consume less than half the electricity of traditional security lights. Post also installed hundreds of low-watt interior LED “down lighters” in Mission residences, replacing inefficient 50 watt halogen bulbs. The new units consume only 10-15% of the energy of the halogen bulbs. With an average of 50 units per house, potential energy savings are high.
The Mission’s goal is to eventually covert all residences in the interagency housing pool, approximately 250 units, to solar water heating and LED lighting. The General Services Office estimates that cost savings for an average Mission residence is approximately $2,500 per year, for a total of $625,000 Mission-wide. This will allow the Mission to manage expected operational cost increases with South Africa’s electricity rates set to rise 25% a year for the next three years.
Visit the U.S. Mission to South Africa website for more information.