South African family creates model green home

Three months ago, the Ngewana family began the My Green Home challenge, and publically committed to cutting their electricity consumption by 40%, water by 20% and waste to landfill by 75%. Now, just over three months later, the Green Building Council of South Africa has revealed that the household has managed to surpass their targets even before the completion of the project. This is good news for South Africans who are keen to follow suit and learn from the Ngewana’s how they too can live more sustainable lifesyles and save money on household expenses. 

How the Ngewana’s reduced their home energy use 

Lutho Ngewana with his LED desk lamp.

Lutho Ngewana with his LED desk lamp.

The family first reduced their electricity use with no-cost behaviour changes such as reducing the geyser thermostat setting from 70 to 60 degrees, shortening their showers and cutting the time that their pool pump was running from over 10 hours to just 3 hours for the winter. Along with other actions, these brought down the average number of kilowatt hours they use each day by a third (33 percent).

Then the house underwent a ‘retrofit’ with a wide range of energy-saving equipment installed. Some of the biggest savings seen so far have been as a result of LED lighting, a variable-speed pool pump, and a closed-combustion fireplace for winter heating.

Ceiling insulation is also making their home a much warmer place to be this winter. The technology interventions reduced electricity consumption further, to 48 percent below the Ngewana family’s starting point. Further savings are likely in months to come, when summer’s warm sun returns and their solar water heater will reach its full potential.

Home water saving devices cut water consumption by 45%

The Ngewana’s also cut their water consumption by 45% through a combination of behaviour changes and new equipment, including dual-flush toilets, efficient showerheads, mixers and taps and a greywater system to irrigate the garden with water from the bath, shower, basins and laundry. With the savings on electricity and water combined, the Ngewanas are set to spend about R18,000 less in the coming year than they would have with their former home and lifestyle.

How home recycling and composting can cut waste to landfill by 82%

Finally, their waste being sent to landfill in the municipal garbage truck each week has fallen by 82%, with 67% being recycled and 15% composted for the garden.

My Green Home – a resources for South Africans to live more sustainable lifestyles

The My Green Home website offers advice on all of the strategies used by the Ngewana family to reach their goals, and much more.  Visitors to will find short videos, tools, guides and references to help them along their own green path to savings.

Those who participate in My Green Home stand a chance to win green prizes, including the grand prize: their own ‘green home makeover’. Those who submit a photo of themselves checking their electricity bill, meter or monitor to the website or via Twitter (@mygreenhomesa) by 12h00 on Monday 28st July are eligible for this week’s prizes in a random draw, as well as the grand prize.

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