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Solar Water Heaters and the change in Eskom Rebate Values

Posted by: CerebralHelices

Tagged in: Solar Water Heater , Rebate , eskom


I was at the library today with a friend, and we got to chatting with a lady in the environment section about climate change, alternative forms of fuel, and in particular the natural forms of energy we could harness in a country such as ours (yes, thrilling stuff I know), when Lady-in-the-Library mentioned that she wanted to install a Solar Water Heater (SWH)  in her home sometime next month and asked if we could show her how to get the info on what to do – she felt it all to be a bit overwhelming. So on a library PC we showed her how to get to the Eskom site and explained about SWH requirements, the incentive offered for installing SWH systems and where she could find suppliers for them. We also suggested she bring the installation date forward, if possible, because of Eskoms recent plans to reduce rebate values. I figured I’d do a quick post on everything we told her on Solar Water Heater units and rebates, for anyone who may need the relevant info for installing a SWH system in their own homes.

It has to be said that purchasing a solar geyser can cost you a substantial chunk of change, but the initial investment can be amortised in the long run by savings made on monthly electricity bills. It’s estimated that 30 to 50% of the average homes consumed electricity is attributed to water heating and Eskom says depending on the system selected, homeowners can save on at least 70% of their electrical geyser consumption. Especially with the solar radiation courtesy of our sunny climate, solar water heating is a viable option for energy saving and being environmentally friendly. It ensures plentiful hot water, utilising clean energy, even in times of power outages (big big plus for me this!)

A few years ago Eskom collaborated with national energy related organisations to make solar water heating technology accessible and affordable to South African homes, introducing an incentive in the form of a rebate to increase the uptake of solar geysers in homes.

When choosing to buy a SWH unit and in order to be granted a rebate, a registered system needs to be installed by a reputable, registered water heater supplier. A list of accredited suppliers in SA, and the associated rebate for each system based on capacity, SABS status, supply and install, price, company, etc. is given HERE (note the values per system per supplier will be updated on the site as of 29 April). The Eskom site also offers a step by step guide when choosing a unit and supplier. 

The rebate can be obtained by the supplier who can claim it on behalf of the customer (the cost of the system paid by the consumer will then be minus that rebate). Suppliers can only do this if they have an agreement with Eskom. The other way to claim the rebate is paying the total installation price and then submitting a claim form, provided by your supplier, to Eskom. The rebate will then be issued within 8 weeks of receipt of the completed claim form. When choosing a supplier find out and confirm which of these two they offer and ensure that the system selected is SABS approved (this is essential).

Now to the recent bit, which can get a bit confusing (Lady-in-the-Library had a point). Eskom plans to reduce the rebate value for SWH units at the end of April 2011. A SWH installed before 29 April 2011, with claim forms received by 13 May 2011, will qualify for the old rebate. The power utility said that doubling the rebate in 2010 was intended to stimulate the market (it did, there was an uptake in SWH systems), and that they had said then it would be reduced back to the regulatory benchmark in the future. Eskom also said that locally manufactured systems which are reasonably priced should hardly be affected by the rebate change. 

From 29 April onwards, the maximum rebate will be the same as the current average rebate, which is given HERE, but keep in mind that rebates will continue to decrease over time as of 3 June 2011. However a different structure will apply to locally manufactured systems compared to that of imported systems. For a high pressure imported 100 – 149 litre SWH unit, the maximum rebate will drop from R4373 to R3280, a 25% rebate decrease. A 100 – 149 litre SWH unit with 80% locally manufactured content will go from R4373 to R3936, amounting to a 10% decrease (as Eskom said, hardly affected). Essentially this difference will spur consumers to favour locally manufactured SWH systems over imported ones, as buying locally means you get more back. However eagerness to get a larger rebate should not overshadow judgment when it comes to quality. Research systems thoroughly before deciding.

If you’ve recently installed a SWH, make sure you get those claim forms sorted out pronto and if you intend to install a SWH system, immediately would be the time to get to it.  

For assistance check out, email, or give the IDM solar help desk, on 011 800-4744, a call.

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