Cape Town to launch solar water heater accreditation programme

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THE City of Cape Town is to launch a residential solar water heater accreditation programme to assist with the faster roll-out of residential high-pressure solar water heaters and to encourage mid- to high-income residents to reduce their consumption of electricity and move towards the use of renewable energy.

City authorities said this week that the first phase of the programme would be to accredit service providers so as to improve consumer confidence in the industry. Authorities say this will also facilitate affordable finance for the geysers through monthly instalments.

The geysers could significantly reduce the amount of money households spend on electricity. In 2012 the city said it intended to appoint service providers to supply high-pressure solar water heaters to replace existing conventional electrical geysers in households.

The high-pressure solar water heaters are seen as vital in the drive to introduce renewable energy, and crucial in attempts to ease pressure on the country’s electricity grid. Solar heaters could also contribute up to 23% to the government’s target of renewable energy, contributing 100,00GWh of final energy consumption by the endof 2013.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, Garreth Bloor, said on Friday that before the start of the solar water heater programme, prospective customer perceptions, levels of awareness, and knowledge and attitudes towards the heaters, were tested. The survey was conducted across living standards measures (LSM) 7-10 and indicated the following:
• 85.9% of residents know that a solar water heater can save them money;
• 67.9% want a solar water heater; and
• 50.5% are likely to buy one in the next one to three years.

The survey also highlighted that there was a 34.4% level of confidence in solar water heater installers and 31.4% was the highest that respondents ranked the ease of finding the right installer.
“This indicated to us that the city needs a programme that will make it easy, quick and affordable for residents to switch to a solar water heater,” Mr Bloor said.
“Positively, the majority of the respondents (71.7%) indicated that they would most trust the City of Cape Town to endorse a list of accredited suppliers of (the heaters), hence the accreditation system and the establishment of the solar water heater programme management and liaison unit by the City.”
Mr Bloor said a multiyear social marketing campaign would educate residents on the benefits of the heaters and increase consumer demand.

The city would operate a solar water heater programme management and liaison unit to ensure quality standards were maintained and to assist in the resolution of any disputes between consumers and suppliers, should these arise, Mr Bloor said.
He said the criteria for the selection of suppliers included the “stimulation and growth of high-pressure solar water heaters (in) local component manufacturing capacity and job creation in the Western Cape”.

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