Archive for the ‘General’ category


July 6th, 2011

It has always been our intention to install either solar and or a heat pump geyser, the main motivation being to try reduce our carbon foot-print. I have however long maintained that claims made by industry regarding the potential savings and payback periods on equipment to be optimistic in the least.

It is not uncommon to see claims of payback periods of 2-3 years and electricity savings of 40 % in adverts for solar or heat pump products, but I simply didn’t buy this. So rather than dive right in I decided to to put an electrical meter onto the geyser so it could be monitored separately. I have been doing this since August 2010 and feel I have enough data to make a few assumptions to refute some of wild claims made by some of the installers.

But first our set-up, which I consider a reasonably average:

  • House is a brick and tile house, 3 bedrooms
  • Family of 4, kids share a bath daily, parents shower at least once daily
  • Geyser is a 100L element type inherited with the house – no pipe lagging or geyser blanket.
  • Temperature set on highest (70 deg) or else we run out of hot water in the morning.
  • We use gas for most of our cooking which will reduce the total usage, pushing geyser percentage higher.

Other things to consider, we are currently under water restrictions, but through clever water management (see rain water/grey water elsewhere on my site) we have been able to maintain the luxury of decent length showers and baths whilst still doing our bit.

So here are our figures, I have inflated them to include the latest tariff hike of July 2011 (R1.05 / kWh)

So what does this mean ?

Well for one thing we definitely don’t even come close to using 40% of our bill on heating water, secondly even if we managed to eliminate the total geyser bill this would only save us about R310  / month (was R203 prior to this month’s increase).

So even with Eskom rebates you only going to break even after 5 years at which point you will probably need to replace the old system (assumes R17 000 outlay, financed).

I think my point is don’t believe everything you’re told and be especially suspicious of mates who claim their bill has halved since installing their solar geyser unless they have documented the before and after scenarios . I realise that everybody’s situation is different  and this needs to be taken into account, I think however manufacturers must be using some rather extreme case studies to punt their products (well that’s nothing new is it?)

I am going to wait a year, by then Eskom would have hiked prices again, I think there will be more competition and the rebate issue might have calmed down (that’s another whole post – suffice to say I believe you ending up paying more with the rebate than without). In the meantime I am adding lagging to the pipes in the ceiling this weekend to see what a difference this will make. I’ll keep you posted.


April 29th, 2010

For some unknown reason I can never find this on SA Weather’s new fancy web site – so here is the image if you are like me and enjoy the “Raw” data.

“Edit: seems they have locked the site down and require a password!”

“Edit 2: Found it again!”


October 4th, 2009

I know there are loads of posts on this, but I wanted to share my experience mainly because I was blown away by the ease of the upgrade and more importantly, how much free space it freed up for me.

Now I know these days harddrive space is less of an issue with desktops which are easily upgraded, but my notebook only has a 100 gig drive and is pretty full. Not wanting to go the route of a clean install and being a bit fedup with a lukewarm Vista experience I decided the much touted upgrade route was the way to go. So knowing windows would need some space to do the install,l I did some concerted house keeping and managed to free up about 27 gig of space.

This accomplished I closed my eyes and plunged right into the upgrade process. Windows 7 did some thinking and asked me to uninstall some apps which it figured would cause some problems – fortunately they were all HP pre-installed apps which I had never actually used before. Once I had removed this it quitlely got on with its thing – not sure how long it took as after about 2 hours I when to bed.

In the morning it was with some interpretation that I roused my notebook out of sleep mode -fortunately I was greeted with a nice friendly windows 7 desktop. Now the kicker – remember I stated out with 27 gig free after cleaning up as much space as I could (including using windows disk cleanup which deleted all temp files), well after the install I now have 37 gig free! Thats 10 gigs of extra space – what Vista was doing with that drive space makes the mind boggle – it certainly wasnt making it faster thats for sure!

Hope you have as much luck as I did if you decide to take the plunge.


August 6th, 2009

Most people who have brick houses can probably show you one or two cracks – although there seldom is an excuse structurally speaking.

I did an intesting survey on a building which is covered in cracks – some up to 8mm wide. The strucure has moved to the extent that a number of the doors no longer close!

Anyway here is a pic of  two of the cracks – I feel much better about my own house now!

Hello world!

July 2nd, 2009

This is my first post, so watch this space. I am currently renovating our main house and I have incorporated some interesting DIY projects which may be of interest to somebody. These include:

  • grey water irrigation system
  • a rainwater capture, storage and irrigation system
  • modifications to our automatic garage door opener to make the main garage lights come on automatically
  • modifications to our alarm system to make all the outside lights come on when the alarm is triggered
  • garage / workshop pit (every house should have one)
  • attic storage space
  • water feature
  • wooden feature walls

I also have on the horizon these projects planned:

  • Swimming pool (includes automatic pool cover)
  • Wooden deck and walkway (main entrance)

I will post what I have completed first – the future projects you will probably have to be very patient for (as my lovely wife is).