“Eco-ncious” SA’s ‘first’ family goes green


As they have their own bread and butter issues to wrestle with, most black people might regard taking a lead in reducing climate change as something of a luxury. Thus, it should not be surprising that news of a black family that has broken the mould has wowed the country’s top ecologists.

The Ngewanas, Zwelethu and Bulelwa, along with their children, have embarked on a journey towards energy efficiency and a greener life, and, most remarkably, are breaking new ground.

In a development that is undoubtedly the country’s first, the family measures its home’s energy consumption in an innovative way, declaring that it uses 41 kilowatts hours per square meter per year (kWh/m2/year) in their home. Not content with the target, it has challenged itself to cut this figure by 40 percent, while asking other South Africans to see how they measure up.

The Ngewanas discovered that their geyser and pool pump together accounted for more than half of their electricity consumption. However, that is set to change as their home will undergo a major energy efficiency and green retrofit soon.

In what is certainly the country’s first, through the website, www.mygreenhome.org.za the Ngewana’s electricity consumption is displayed on a live dashboard, with real-time consumption of their geyser, pool, laundry, lights, stove and outlet sockets each individually metered. Definitely, theirs is the most intensely monitored house in the country.

The My Green Home website shows South Africans how to calculate their own kWh/m2/yr number as a first step toward lowering energy consumption. Though the measurement is widespread internationally, in South Africa the Ngewanas are almost certainly the first family to go public with their number.

With energy security a big issue, other families should emulate the Ngewanas. Who knows how much energy the country can have for use in economic development?

My Green Home is led by the Green Building Council South Africa, with main co-funding from the German government through the South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN). It’s also supported by the 49M campaign, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and a range of product sponsors and partner organisations.



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