11 smart ways to save electricity (and money) in the winter months

May 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Eskom has issued steps consumers can take to save electricity as the colder weather grips South Africa.

A thermostat-controlled oil heater no bigger than 2 000W (watt) is the best choice to heat a room of 3 x 3 x 2.5 metres for three hours.

“During the colder months, space heating can be responsible for up to 8% of an average household’s electricity usage. The current constrained electricity network calls for smart electricity usage to help keep the warmth inside and the cold outside,” said the power utility last Wednesday.

Last week the power utility started implementing its ‘Use electricity smartly’ campaign, which aims to reduce electricity the shortage so as to minimise the risk of load shedding.

The power utility said insulated and draught-proofed rooms require 51% less energy to heat.

Eskom has the following tips for the winter period:

1. Use foam tape to seal windows and doors if they do not close properly - in winter, draughts can account for up to 25% of heat loss.

2. Hang curtains to reduce heat transfer.

3. Lay 'door snakes' to stop cold air from entering - aluminium skirts with rubber seals on the outside of doors are also highly effective.

4. Seal cavities in and between bricks with a polyurethane sealant.

5. Seal the chimney if you have one – the best way is to have a damper installed when the chimney is not in use; if not utilised at all, seal it at the top and bottom.

6. Install fire-retardant ceiling insulation – with approximately 40% of heat lost through the roof, ceiling insulation makes your home up to 5% warmer in winter.

7. Only heat the room you are occupying, and use the correct type of heater when you feel the need for extra warmth.

8. A thermostat-controlled fan heater is ideal to quickly heat a room of 3 x 3 x 2.5 metres for one hour.

9. A thermostat-controlled oil heater no bigger than 2 000W (watt) is the best choice to heat the same room for three hours.

10. A thermostat-controlled heater no bigger than 1 000W (watt) is the most energy efficient option to heat it for eight hours.

11. Most gas heaters generate a great amount of heat and do not require electricity at all.

Use 'door snakes' to stop cold air from entering.

The power utility has in recent weeks implemented load shedding as a result of generation capacity.

“Eskom is currently faced with challenges at its power stations, which has led to the need for load shedding over the past few months.

“If consumers can assist us by using electricity smartly, it would help to reduce the need for load shedding, which is a measure used to balance the supply and demand of electricity,” says Eskom acting Group Executive for generation, Andrew Etzinger. – SAnews.gov.za


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Advice, Winter Blues, Harcourts Real Estate

5 things you need to know about prepaid water

May 6, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

You already know that we live in a water-stressed country, receiving an annual rainfall of 492mm, while the rest of the earth receives 985mm.

With a prepaid water system consumers can track usage, load credit remotely, and decrease the possibility of bill shock due to leakages or incorrect monitoring.

This is according to Marcus Thulsidas, Director: Business Development, Utility Systems, who says in addition, the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) cautions that 98% of South Africa’s water has already been allocated to users, leaving little surplus water to cater for a growing population and increasing demand.

In this context, could it be that prepaid water - like prepaid electricity - is the answer to more sustainable water consumption and management?

“Well, we at Utility Systems believe it is,” says Thulsidas says, and there are five important things that South Africans need to know about installing prepaid water meters:

1. What is ‘prepaid water’?
Prepaid water means that the consumer purchases water credit in the form of a prepaid water token. When entered into the user interface unit (located in the consumer’s home), the token instructs the water management device to allow a certain amount of water through the meter before closing.

Consumers can track usage, load credit remotely, and decrease the possibility of bill shock due to leakages or incorrect monitoring.

A prepaid water meter can also be used to limit water flowing to a particular area. This helps municipalities and property owners to control the amount of water used at certain outputs and prevents wastage in low-income households that can’t afford to pay for excess use of this basic need.

They can make payment in smaller, frequent increments. This prevents their falling into debt, which can compound in a post-paid arrangement.

2. Who can access it?
This is completely dependent on the municipality. So, even if you’re feeling inspired to install a smart water management device to enable prepaid water, you may not be able to - based on where you live or work.

That being said, most municipalities are beginning to embrace prepaid water management technology, so it may just be a waiting game. To find out your eligibility for prepaid water, it’s wise to approach your municipality and ask.

If you have a garden cottage, however, you can add an additional meter and smart water management device to the building to ensure that your tenants don’t rack up huge bills in your name - and then refuse to pay, or leave.

3. How does it affect rental properties and bodies corporate?
The implications for rental properties and bodies corporate are significant.

Prepaid metering reduces admin to a minimum, while removing the risk and frustration of late or non-payment of water bills. This is why housing estates are swiftly moving to prepaid water, as they did with prepaid electricity.

Gone are the days of splitting the entire estate’s water bill by the number of units. Prepaid metering means that users pay for their consumption only.

4. What’s in it for municipalities?
Prepaid systems are cost-effective solutions to sustainable water management in that they have a low cost of acquisition and, by curbing water usage, capital recovery is possible within months.

The systems are also able to distribute water equally, based on free water quotas, water balancing and fluctuating demand.

Aside from their ability to alert municipalities to leaks, prepaid water meters also drastically reduce government’s admin costs. This is because municipalities don’t need to chase bad debts or budget for legal fees on unpaid accounts. Public sector cash flow is immediately improved.

Collecting data from prepaid meters is also more efficient than the manual collection required for post-paid meters. A radio link receiver can be fixed, vehicle-mounted, or carried by municipality personnel.

5. Is prepaid water cheaper?
No - this is a myth. Prepaid and post-paid water cost exactly the same. It is illegal to sell municipal water above the municipal tariff rate declared. That being said, prepaid water gives consumers the opportunity to monitor their consumption and react immediately to possible leaks.

Finally
“The bottom line? Even the simplest smart water management device can provide the tools to track and control water usage. Prepaid water meters are smart tools with the potential to revolutionise water conservation efforts and revenue management worldwide. But it’ll be a while before every South African household is able to benefit from this enormous potential,” says Thulsidas.


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Topics: Advice, Harcourts Real Estate, Prepaid Water

Choosing your method of sale

Mar 25, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

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When it comes to the sale of your property, there are more options available to you when choosing a method of sale than simply listing your property for a fixed price. In fact, according to the latest Harcourts figures, the number of auctions being performed around the country is up massively from last year.

So, why are people choosing to sell their homes in this way, and what are the alternatives?

Auction

We’ve all read the media commentary about rising house prices, and although there are many theories as to why this is, what it really comes down to are two factors – low supply and high demand.

Auction is the best way of achieving a premium price in a competitive market. Auction involves a short, sharp and intensive marketing campaign of a property without a price. This is to test the market to see what buyers, in a competitive situation, are prepared to pay to become the new owners of that property.

Marketing with a price limits what a keen buyer may pay. Once a listing price has been established for a property, a ceiling has been placed on what a buyer expects to pay for it. Auction, on the other hand, offers a real opportunity to get more for a property than the seller might expect.

What happens if I have chosen to auction my property, and I get an offer before the auction date?

If you wish to accept the pre-auction offer then Harcourts will recommend that you bring forward the auction and contact the other interested parties. The earlier auction can then be held with the acceptable offer as the opening bid. That way if any buyer is prepared to pay more Harcourts can obtain that premium for you.

Price by Negotiation (PBN)

This method of sale can be applied in any of these three ways:

1. No price is advertised. Buyers make offers through the sales consultants.

2. A minimum price may be advertised. Offers above this minimum price are considered by the seller.

3. A price range may be advertised. Offers within this price band are considered.

The benefit of PBN is the level of market interest will help the seller gauge a fair sale price. The ‘no price’ aspect will also attract more genuinely interested, cash-in-hand buyers as well as ensuring the sales price isn’t capped. In contrast, unlike auction and tender there is no sale date or deadline in place so there is no urgency placed on buyers to make a buying decision.

Another benefit of PBN is that this method creates competition between buyers, and this gives the seller the opportunity for stronger negotiating with potential buyers. 

Fixed Price

This means that a property is listed with a definite price. If the property is priced correctly it will attract a lot of interest, and in some cases have multiple offers resulting in a premium sale price. The fixed price also gives the buyer a price guideline and allows for a property search by price on real estate websites.

However it is easy to over or under price the property and buyers may discount the property without inspecting it, judging it solely on the price. This can effectively limit the market for that property.

Tender

Tender works in a similar way to the auction system, except there is no public auction day. Instead, tenders or offers close at a specific time on a specific date.

Tender presents another opportunity for sellers to create a competitive situation without stating a listing price. They set the terms, conditions and the deadline, and prospective buyers have only one opportunity to put forward their most competitive offer.

The seller doesn’t necessarily have to accept the highest price. They can choose to negotiate with any of the tenderers to achieve a satisfactory conclusion.

So, when you’re considering how to sell your property, take the time to work out which method suits you and your circumstances before making a decision, also take the time to discuss the best options for your property with your real estate agent. As property experts, Harcourts can help to advise you on the method of sale that’s going to work well for your property.


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Topics: Advice, buying and selling, Financial Advice

The five essential marketing tools

Mar 11, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

The decision to sell is made, but how do you ensure potential buyers know your house could be their dream home? Here are five top marketing tools to help you get the best possible result for your sale.


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Topics: Advice, House of Inspiration, Marketing Tips

Being prepared for an emergency.

Mar 4, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Do you know what vital information to have on hand in the event of a natural disaster or
family emergency?


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Topics: Property Management, Advice, Insurance

Eight ways to make your rented house a home

Feb 25, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

No matter if you are an owner occupier or renting, we all have an instinctive desire to create an individual space we can call “home”.


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Topics: Renting, Advice, Home Tips

Colour Psychology: How to Make Your Home Feel Good

Jan 7, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Ready to paint? A little colour psychology may be just what you need to create soothing and productive moods. The colours of the rooms in your home are a direct reflection of your personality. While most of us may not spend a lot of time thinking about that, it affects us every day. Colour can influence our moods and our thoughts.


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Topics: DIY, Advice, Home Tips, Harcourts Real Estate

Marketing Tips to Fast-track Your Sale

Dec 10, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

When selling a property, one of the most important steps is generating interest, and the best way to do this is through a focused marketing campaign. A strong marketing campaign will help you sell your property in the shortest amount of time, for the best price, with the least amount of aggravation. Here are our tips to help get you started.


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Topics: Advice, selling property, Marketing Tips

Advice for Young Property Investors

Dec 3, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Getting a foot onto the property ladder is certainly no easy feat, and it’s easy to see why many young people simply give up their dreams of home ownership. But the fact is, the rewards of property investment ultimately outweigh the effort. To help you get started in your property investment journey, here is our advice for young property investors.


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Topics: Advice, Property Markets, Investing in Property, Financial Advice

Securing a mortgage with bad credit

Nov 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Getting a mortgage has always been harder for people with bad credit. But having bad credit doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road when it comes to buying property. By working with a mortgage adviser or mortgage broker, we’ll analyse your credit situation against the various lending policies, and find the best possible solution to fit your needs.


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Topics: Advice, first home buyer, Bad Credit Home LOan, Bad credit, Financial Advice, Home Loan Advice