Energy Reduction (2017)
In order to support Botshabelo's goals of living off the grid, we started our project with several major energy reduction strategies that would widely impact the community. From installing prepaid electrical meters, to a full overhaul of the community's lighting, we reduced the community's energy consumption by about 8%.
Our work began in 2016, with a full energy audit of the entire community. From the amount of refrigerators to the amount of lights in each home, we surveyed every building and every home to ensure we understood the full scale of what we'd be dealing with. We then spent several months analyzing the results from our survey and developing Botshabelo's energy reduction strategy.
At the time of our energy audit the community was using high wattage incandescent lights, high pressure sodium lights, halogen lights and fluorescent tube lights. Not only did the collective high wattage of their lights have a major impact on their monthly energy consumption, but the widespread use of fluorescent tube lights often broke or were damaged, thus exposing the community to mercury.
We partnered with Eric Hawkins in the United Kingdom to help design an affordable and sustainable lighting plan. Thanks to the hard work of Eric's team, the team at PGF Imports and the community, we were able to replace 98% of Botshabelo's lights with LEDs. We're talking 125 globe lights, 165 LED T8 tubes, 20 outdoor lights, and 20 LED panels.
This was no easy task however. While wiring in the lights in the kid's dorms, we discovered some unsafe wiring that forced us to completely rewire the building. We ripped out every last wire in the place, ran brand new conduit, rewired every new light fixture, light switch and socket. We also reorganized the electrical box to ensure that the amperage was safely distributed. We couldn't do it all ourselves, so we also called in the help of local electrician Vusi who stepped up to help us get the job done. While this extra bit of work was not something we could have planned for, our team is so happy that we could safely complete the kid's dorms.
In addition to the education program, solar panel installation and LED lights another major part of our energy reduction campaign was installing prepaid electrical meters throughout the community. This allowed to to widely redefine energy consumption. For the first time, those who call Botshabelo home, can directly see, measure and understand how their day-to-day habits ultimately consume electricity. This realization led to an instant reduction in energy consumption through the community. We're still waiting on hard numbers, but based on the shift in social attitudes alone, we're positive it's had a significant impact on the community's monthly spending too.
To learn more about Eric Hawkins, visit his website here.
Check out the video below for some LED light installation highlights.