In either taal
If you wade through the pages on Oscar Pistorius and Beyoncé in the issue of YOU magazine that hit the newsstands today, you will find an article on page 130 about Greener House.
By next week I will be able to reprint full the full text of the article, which is full of advice about saving electricity in the home. For now I will focus on a few key points about solar that were shortened or cut in the editing process.
In the original text, I decided to take a bold stand in order to simplify the many choices facing a homeowner who wants to install solar hot water panels. The uncut version refuted four of the excuses commonly used by those who haven’t gone solar:
• “I’ll wait ‘till my geyser fails.” When your geyser bursts or dies, you will need a quick solution. Installing solar takes time. It makes more sense to put up solar panels before your geyser gets into trouble.
• “My uncle had trouble with his hot-water solar panels.” A lot of fly-by-night installers importing cheap panels have popped up recently. Insist on SABS approved panels as a first step, but also use an installer who has been in the business five years or more and a panel manufacturer with at least that much experience in South Africa. My nine-year-old flat panels have been problem-free.
• “I’m confused by the different solar systems available.” At the risk of oversimplifying, this is my advice: Ask for an indirect system that first heats glycol, which then heats the water. Use tanks meant for solar, not something jury-rigged onto your old geyser. Larger tanks are worth the expense; I have 600 litres of storage. Ask for flat panels, unless your roof gets limited light. Evacuated tubes tend to overheat in the summer and are more vulnerable to hail.
• “I don’t have a roof that gets any sun.” That’s fine. Replacing a traditional geyser with a heat-pump will save almost as much electricity as a solar system can.
Even this unabridged advice may seem too short to account for the many configurations possible in solar hot water systems. I well understand the urge to find a custom solution that maximizes efficiency. But for those who will only make the leap to solar if it is simple and safe, these guidelines point in the right direction.