Green homes save planet and pocket

Green homes save planet and pocket

Good insulation can save up to 30% of energy bills - South African homeowners urged to be environmentally responsible.

Homeowners can help save the environment as well as their money with simple energy saving and environment friendly measures.

Being environmentally conscious doesn't mean that you have to live in a mud hut," says Saul Geffen, Chief Executive of MortgageSA, South Africa's leading bond originator. "South African homeowners can have green homes without sacrificing their living standards."

While South Africa's carbon emissions only sits at 1.6% of the world's it accounts for 44% of Africa's emissions.

"Internationally, laws are being introduced forcing homeowners to take the environment into account," says Geffen. "In November 2006 France introduced a law stipulating all sales of property produce a green report confirming the environmentally friendliness of the property."

"Although South Africa is a bit slower in introducing environment friendly property laws MortgageSA urges all South African homeowners to be responsible for making their homes greener," says Geffen.

"While many homeowners dismiss environment friendly practices as time consuming they don't realise the monetary benefits in reducing household energy and water outputs."

Geffen highlights a few practical tips to make homes both environmentally and pocket friendly.

"South Africa houses are generally ill-equipped for the winter season and heat is lost through badly insulated houses," says Geffen.

"Insulation should be installed inside any barrier that's located between heated and unheated space with a well insulated ceiling being the most important, cutting energy bills by 30%."

Buying products such as energy efficient light bulbs reduces energy used by up to 40%," says Geffen.

Geysers are the biggest energy waster in South African households accounting for a third of all energy costs in the home. The Department of Minerals and Energy suggest installing a 'geyser blanket', only costing a few rands and lasting for 20 years saving around 15% of electricity used. They also suggest regulating geysers with a time switch installed by an electrician which will stop the average family paying for 600 hours of unused hot water a month.

Geffen points out that not only will homeowners be saving the environment but will also help ease the country's current power supply problem

Grey water systems are a good option for water conservation. The system, which is installed in the home, uses all waste water from domestic processes such as washing machines dishwashers, baths and showers for both indoor and outdoor reuse such as watering gardens and flushing toilets.

"Installing a grey water system into your home uses less energy, saves money and increases effective water supply," says Geffen. "In low rainfall countries such as Botswana grey water systems are used extensively along with other water saving measures such as rainwater tanks."

An environmentally friendly and cost effective alternative for flooring is cork wood flooring. This sustainable material has recently become available in South Africa and grows back within nine years without damaging the trees.

"Cork wood flooring is durable, easy to clean and does far less damage to the environment then non-sustainable traditional wood flooring," says Geffen.

"Every South African homeowner needs to contribute to environment friendly practices," concludes Geffen. "This doesn't need to be a dramatic change but can include sourcing locally made products, being aware of household energy and water consumption as well as generally keeping their homes greener."

Hello ooba news

ooba (formerly MortgageSA) welcomed the 0.5% interest rate cut announced yesterday by the South African Reserve Bank which will save South African home owners an estimated R259m in home loan repayments each month, but says more cuts are needed.

According to a new poll by South Africa's leading property listings website, nearly a third of home hunters decide that a property is right for them before they even enter the house - and a kitchen is overwhelmingly the most important room when it comes to the buying decision. has entered into a partnership with to provide access to the latest fractional ownership listings which will be available from the 12 December, 2008.

South Africans spent over R10 billion during the festive season last year. This year ooba suggests carefully planning your holiday season spending to avoid a financial hangover in January 2009. "Festive season debt can take months to pay off in the new year," says Jenny Rushin, Provincial Sales Manager for ooba (formerly MortgageSA).

Weak economic conditions, higher interest rates and the global credit crisis have forced banks to be far more picky about who they will lend money and less generous with their lending rates. But Mary Jane Lefevre, Regional Sales Manager of ooba, said that before you apply for a home loan, there are steps you can take to improve your credit status and encourage lenders to look more favourably on your application.