The solar panel tax incentive, announced in the National Budget in February, provides a one-year window of opportunity for homeowners to make the switch to renewable energy. And with load shedding seemingly here to stay, it makes a lot of sense to be thinking solar right now.
In terms of this incentive, homeowners can now claim a rebate of up to 25% of the cost of a new solar photovoltaic (PV) system, up to R15,000. Available until 29 February 2024, it does not include inverters or batteries.
Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond, says it’s certainly a good idea for homeowners to take advantage of this tax incentive if they have the financial means to invest in renewable energy for their homes. “Energy-efficient homes are increasingly sought-after; not only because they are more sustainable over time, but because homeowners want alternative energy solutions that will provide uninterrupted power,” he points out.
Increased electricity costs are also accelerating the shift towards alternative energy in the home. The National Energy Regulator is set to increase tariffs by 18% and 12% in the next two financial years.
‘Green features’ ranked in the top five of a recent Lightstone Estate Agent Survey of what buyers desire in new homes. Coetzee adds, “We are seeing that homes with solar panels and batteries, among other green features, can sell for 3-4% more than homes that do not boast these features. This tells us that solar solutions have become a necessity – no longer a nice to have.”
Solar installations do come at a cost, but there are financing options available in addition to the government tax incentive. Major banks, like FNB and Standard Bank, enable customers to apply for a solar energy loan of up to 15% of their property value with new or existing home loans. The loan that funds the solar installation, is added to the bond amount and registered as one total. “Homeowners benefit from the same interest rate and term on their home loan,” Coetzee explains. Banks also partner with accredited renewable energy providers to ensure reliable and competitive solutions.
A solar solution is not only a means of dealing with load shedding and rising electricity costs, it also adds value to your home. Experts in the solar field say that the amount saved on electricity costs could cover the cost of the initial installation within five years.
Coetzee advises, “There are several factors to bear in mind when making the transition. Always work with an accredited solar provider who can assess your home and provide a solution that meets your needs.”
While going off-grid may sound like a great idea, it can be costly and is not always feasible. For example, remaining on the grid, with battery backup, lets you get through load shedding using the power that has been stored.
There are other ways to improve energy efficiency at home:
- Open-plan homes allow free flow of air, but can be expensive to heat and light. If you are buying a new home, consider one with defined rooms that are easier to keep warm or cool down.
- Ideally, the living spaces in a home should be north facing to make the most of daylight and warmth. Use blockout curtains and blinds to maintain optimal temperatures in summer.
- When viewing a new home, pay attention to insulation and seek professional advice before making any changes prior to moving in. Also, ensure that big installations, like double-glazing on the windows, fall within your available budget.
“It may seem like a significant expense upfront, but the long-term benefits of being able to reduce energy costs, avoid load shedding, and appeal to the next buyer are significant. Energy-efficient features certainly make a home more attractive to prospective buyers,” concludes Coetzee.