Billing – Save money on your municipal bill

With rising prices and lowering service, affording your monthly municipal bill is becoming very difficult for many households. We asked around to see how you could find alternatives or what technology exists to help you save some money or invest in solutions to lower long term costs on your monthly municipal bills.

Electricity

Solar Energy:

Financed Solar vs. Municipal Power

Investing in a financed solar system can provide long-term savings by reducing dependence on municipal power. Although the initial cost may be high, financing options can make it more affordable, and the return on investment comes in the form of reduced monthly electricity bills. It is however important to consider the replacement costs on things such as batteries (up to 10 year warranty) and inverters (up to 5 year warranty) over the long term, so don’t just blow your savings but consider saving some of it for future replacement costs. Insurance costs must also be considered. 

The general escalation of Municipal and Eskom electricity annually almost makes it a no-brainer to finance your energy solution, even though you have to pay interest on it.

Asking for a quote on a 12kw Sunsync system with a 4x 5kwh Chint lithium ion battery backup and 12x 540W JA solar panels with casing, consumables, installation and CoC inclusive of VAT came to around R228 000. Financing this over 72 months at a fixed interest rate, in this example 15%, will cost you around R4 821 per month. Compare this with the monthly fixed cost of your municipal bill and the average increases over the next 72 months and consider what will be best for you.

Unfinanced Solar

An unfinanced solar setup with a 5kW inverter, 8 panels, and a lithium-ion battery costs approximately R50,000. This setup can power an average family home, significantly reducing monthly electricity costs. Obviously one needs to consider the amount of electricity usage with the size of the system that can cater for those needs. 

Geyser Timers

Geysers automatically turn on and keep water at the set temperature, using a lot of electricity throughout the day and night. Installing a timer on your geyser can ensure it only heats water during off-peak times, saving energy and reducing electricity bills. Set the timer to heat water during early morning and late evening when electricity demand and rates are lower. Also consider setting these times strategically to ensure you have hot water when you really need it.

Insulation

Proper insulation in your home can maintain indoor temperatures, reducing the need for heating in winter and cooling in summer. This can lead to significant energy savings.

Solar Geysers

150 Litre Solar Geyser – R30,000

200 Litre Solar Geyser – R35,000

These prices include a tempering valve to regulate water heat, a GeyserWise timer, and a Certificate of Compliance (CoC). A solar geyser can save around 30% on your monthly electricity bill by using solar energy to heat water. This is a massive saving especially when compared with annual increases on electricity bills.

Geyser Blankets

At around R350 per blanket, wrapping your geyser with a blanket reduces heat loss, meaning the geyser uses less energy to keep water hot. Although savings are marginal, they add up over time.

Energy-Efficient Habits

  • Switching Off Lights and Devices: Turning off lights and unplugging devices when not in use prevents unnecessary energy consumption.
  • Heater Hacks: Using gas heaters instead of electric ones can reduce electricity costs. Gas heater prices and operational costs (gas refills) can vary, so research the most efficient option for your home.

Pool Pump Timers

Using a timer for your pool pump can ensure it only runs during off-peak hours, reducing electricity costs, especially in winter time. 

One of the authors has experienced that should you have a hybrid solar system, setting the pool pump to run during the peak time of sunshine (11h00 to 15h00), the pool gets cleaned without depleting the batteries and the solar batteries remain fully charged for other household needs.

Prepaid Electricity

Buying prepaid electricity in bulk and at the right times of the month can save money. Prices and availability may vary, so monitor rates and purchase when they are lowest.

Gas Appliances

Gas Bottles vs. City Gas (City of Joburg Specific)

  • Gas Geysers: Cost of the physical geyser is between R1,600 – R9,000 depending on size. Installation is a once-off cost of R10,000 – R20,000. 
  • Monthly Costs:
    • 9kg – R330
    • 12kg – R450
    • 14kg – R502
    • 19kg – R681
    • 48kg – R1,720
  • Egoli Gas: R350 – R500 per month for an average household using stoves, geysers, and heaters. Note the 6.8% tariff increase on July 1, 2024, while network charges remain unchanged.

Water

Leak Detection

Firstly ensure all your taps around the house are off. Thereafter check if your water meter is still running. If it is, and you cannot find and fix the leak, consider getting your local plumber out to do leak detection. 

For around R1,750, a thorough assessment can detect leaks in an average household, preventing water wastage and reducing water bills dramatically. Water leaks are probably the biggest threat to your municipal bill as it can silently run you into huge problems with your Municipality. People have been surprised with water bills reaching hundreds of thousands of rands because of this. Avoid this risk!

Water-Saving Habits

  • Turn Off Taps: Ensure taps are fully turned off to prevent dripping and water wastage.
  • Filtration: Yes, this is an additional cost. However, installing water filters can improve water quality, reducing reliance on bottled water and saving money over time.
  • Shower vs. Bath: Showers generally use less water than baths. Opt for shorter showers to conserve water.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, consider water friendly plants or indigenous plants that rely on less water or use grey water capture for garden use rather than treated drinking water.

 

Indigent and Pensioner Rebates

Indigent rebates are designed to help households with limited income by reducing or eliminating charges for basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation, and refuse removal.

Pensioner rebates are offered to senior citizens to help reduce the cost of municipal services. These rebates are intended to ease the financial burden on retired individuals.

 

Both these options have specific criteria you need to meet and differ from municipality to municipality. It is therefore important to get in touch with your municipality to obtain the right information and to apply for these rebates timeously. 

 

* Pricing obtained from random companies providing services in Johannesburg at the time of this publication and may change or differ in different regions and markets. 

 

** Disclaimer, The information provided by OUTA, JoburgCAN, and CAN is for general informational purposes only. All information in the media content is provided in good faith, and we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of any information.

 

Under no circumstance shall OUTA, JoburgCAN, or CAN have any liability to you for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of the information provided in our media content. Your use of the information and your reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk.

 

It is advised that you seek professional advice or consult with relevant authorities before taking any action based on the information provided. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

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