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Green homes increasingly in demand

17 Mar 2014

Energy and water self-sufficiency are set to become key factors in the marketability of residential property in South Africa. 

Homes that offer a degree of independence from local authority services - that is, are at least to some extent ‘off the grid’ - will soon be among the most sought-after properties.

This is according to Harcourts Real Estate group CEO, Richard Gray, who says homes that offer a degree of independence from local authority services - that is, are at least to some extent ‘off the grid’ - will soon be among the most sought-after properties. 

He says most likely to be in demand are new homes in security complexes and estates that have their own emergency power plants and water sources, which have been built in accordance with the new energy efficiency guidelines, and even ordinary suburban homes that have been retrofitted with ‘green’ equipment will command something of a premium. 

He says it’s clear from recent events that the supply of essential services to South African households is becoming increasingly erratic and uncertain, and not just in informal settlements and rural towns. It’s not uncommon now for whole sections of major cities to be left without electricity or water supply for days on end. 

“And while many residents have come to terms with interruptions in the power supply since Eskom started load shedding in 2007, the rocketing cost of electricity is a big concern for many, as is the poor management of South Africa’s increasingly inadequate water supply. They fear that widespread water restrictions and deliberate ‘rolling cutoffs’ are not far off.” 

Fortunately, Gray says the options for achieving a good measure of self-sufficiency in both energy and power supply are readily available and practical. He says most are also not that expensive in the long run, and the costs are generally readily recouped on resale of the property. 

Consequently, Gray says they expect to see more South African homeowners become familiar with the benefits of generators, heat pumps, gas stoves, solar geysers and panels, as well as rainwater storage tanks, and wind and solar pumps for boreholes. 

Moreover, with the price of food rocketing due to drought and higher transport costs, it will increasingly make sense for homeowners to use at least some of their garden space, and their recycled bathwater or stored rainwater to establish a flourishing vegetable patch, he says. 

“And if all this sounds apocalyptic that’s not the intention. Water shortages are also all too evident in other parts of the world such as Australia and California, and many Asian and South American cities are also faced with serious power supply problems and rolling blackouts.” 

Gray says the simple fact is that resources are strained everywhere, and that it makes good sense in environmental terms as well as financial terms to make a property as self-sufficient as possible when it comes to the provision of power and water for comfortable daily living.

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