ENERGY SAVING AND SOLAR POWER IN USE AT SANI LODGE BACKPACKERS
Russell and Simone installed the first solar panel to replace an electrical geyser in the middle of 2012 to assess its efficiency. In the past 12 months, another 4 solar panels have been installed to replace electrical geysers for Aloe and Honeyguide cottages and the Giant’s Cup Café . The cost of each solar panel including installation ranges from R6000 to R7000. The solar panel system allows for boosting of the geyser temperature via electrical backup, in the event of days lacking adequate sunshine energy. Our long term aim is to replace all existing electrical geysers at Sani Lodge with solar planels.
Ever wondered what South Africa , the United States of America , China and India have in common? They derive most of their energy from coal, which is one of the dirtiest fuels around and a major source of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. It’s no wonder the earth is choking on greenhouse gases. Can one person stop global warming? Sure ! Read on and learn how . If each one of us adopts a habit of conserving energy through recycling and insulating our homes for example, living in smaller homes , opening a window instead of running the aircon…… we can make a difference.
- The hottest thing in household energy savings in the compact fluorescent lightbulb ( CFL) . If you look at the light bulbs around the Lodge, you will notice that they are all ‘green ‘ CFL’s. These do cost 5 times as much as a conventional incandescent bulb, yet use ¼ the electricity and last several years longer.
- Sani Lodge uses gas geysers , which since they are not continuously drawing power, use less electricity as opposed to electric geysers. The electric geysers in use are all wrapped in insulation which saves 110kg in carbon dioxide emissions annually per geyser and the thermostat is set at a sensible level . Sani Lodge has more recently introduced solar geysers to hot spots on the property.
- Insulation in all of the rooms between the ceiling and roof, lowers heat loss during winter and keeps the rooms comfortably cool in summer.
- All the rondavels and Guineafowl selfcatering cottage are built in the traditional Zulu manner which also happens to mean that they are well Why? Because the walls are built of clay and the roof of thatch grass. These natural materials are efficient at keeping the buildings cool in summer and warm in winter.
- Our office recycles paper and prints on both sides of paper in order to save trees and reduce harmful gases. How? Each ton of recycled paper saves 4400 kWh of energy and 19 trees and 1 tree has the capacity to filter up to 27kg of pollutants from the air.
- The gardens have been planted with mostly indigenous plants , shrubs and trees such as Leonotis and Crocosmia ( which attract sunbirds in summer) , Buddlea and Leucosidia trees ( which provide perches for birds) , grasses for Bishop birds to nest and eat seeds from, and many more ( ask Russell for a comprehensive list as he is the chief indigenous gardener ) . Why plant indigenous? Because, besides providing food and shelter for a host of birds, insects, including butterflies and dragonflies, duiker and other small mammals, indigenous plants and trees are perfectly adapted to the climate and environment and thus require no nasty fertilizer chemicals and need much less water than exotic species. Increasing vegetation and trees also offsets carbon footprint. Eradication of alien species found on our property also means that more ground water is made available to indigenous plants .
- Ever wondered how just one T shirt could send up to 4kg of carbon dioxide into the air in its lifetime? Simply by washing it in hot water and only tumbledrying it. We have adopted the sensible solution. The laundry is washed in cold or warm water ,instead of hot and hung up to dry outside the natural way , on clotheslines. Say no to energy hungry electric tumbledriers and yes to sunshine and fresh air. This process reduces the carbon dioxide created by the laundry, by up to 90% .If the weather is inclement , only then is the tumble drier used .
- Say no to plastic bags! Plastic takes up to 1000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases. We go shopping for supplies for the Lodge using cardboard boxes or cloth bags , which means less plastic for us to try dispose of and thus less pollution.
- Recycling of waste products at source is a good way to ensure that glass, cans, plastic, paper and organic food waste ends up in the right place. Why say no to fertilizers ;because they leak chemicals into the ground and accelerate the release of nitrous oxide ( a greenhouse gas which has a global warming effect 296 times as great as carbon dioxide) . Compost is a natural alternative and is made from the organic waste products, indigenous grasses, weeds and cow dung.
- Russell and Simone, grow organic vegetables in the summer using natural compost to enrich the soil. You may even see tomato plants near the rondavels or butternuts growing in the tea garden herb patch. These are selfseeding plants stemming from the compost . His marrows, tomatoes, spinach, beans, and patty pans, have a wholesome taste that only organic veggies can boast. So if you should dine here during summer, you could well be eating one of our own proudly grown veggies.
- Ever wondered what happened to your soapy water from the shower? It is termed grey water and is recycled by directing it to the indigenous trees and shrubs growing around the place.
- Lighting of paths has been provided by solar lanterns