Going green is a top priority for the hospitality industry in this country. So says Bob Hunter, owner of the Honey Pot Guesthouse in Umhlanga Rocks and an office-bearer of the National Accommodation Association of South Africa.
He notes that guesthouse owners usually focus on their cash flows and that few can afford to spend large amounts on energy-efficient retrofits. But his own experience at the Honey Pot has convinced him and his wife and co-owner, Heather, that the investments they have made by installing solar water heating, energy-efficient lighting and gas cookers, are saving plenty of money.
The Honey Pot has six rooms and four geysers, all of which run off solar. From 04:00 to 06:00 in the morning the geysers normally use electricity, which switches off automatically as the day gets warmer, and solar heating is then sufficient to keep water at a constant 35° or 36°C throughout the day. If the temperature drops below 35°C, electricity kicks in - usually when the weather is overcast or it is raining - at about 16:00. Often, during the hot KwaZulu-Natal summers, it is not necessary to use electricity in the mornings as the pipes are well insulated and the water stays hot overnight. "The result," says Hunter, "is that our guests always have hot water and we're saving about R1 000 a month in electricity bills". He adds that installing a solar heating system - which includes two new geysers, six solar panels, piping and controls - as well as energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) cost about R35 000 in total. "So, we're saving money and will pay off our investment in less than five years."
The guesthouse switched its cooking from electric to gas about nine years ago and Hunter says that gas has saved the business about R400 a month. He offers some advice to other guesthouse owners: don't use an electric grill with a gas stove. Grillers are energy intensive and it makes good sense to spend R2 000 or so on a gas griller and save money in the long run.
A spin-off from the Honey Pot's investment in energy efficiency is that the guesthouse is able to market itself as being 'green' and environmentally friendly – the establishment also captures and recycles rainwater and grows vegetables using hydroponics. "Being environmentally friendly is a big selling point for us; it certainly appeals to more and more guests," says Hunter.
Eskom Energy Advisors are available to advise guesthouses on how to implement energy efficiency measures as a way to reduce costs. Supported by energy efficient technology suppliers and Energy Services Companies (ESCos), Eskom Energy Advisors excel in:
• Understanding and having access to the latest energy efficient technologies;
• Analysing the energy consumption of guesthouses or specific processes in guesthouses;
• Identifying areas of energy wastage in guesthouses;
• Assessing the current and future energy needs of guesthouses; and
• Identifying the most cost effective and energy efficient technology solutions for guesthouses.
Call 08600 37566 to speak to an Eskom Energy Advisor.