With another increase in the price of electricity due to become effective on the 1st July, it seems more important than ever for the managing agents or trustees in sectional title schemes to consider the installation of power saving devices, within the units and in the common areas, says Mandi Hanekom, operations manager for Propell.
Installing equipment such as solar panels or heat pumps to heat water, LED lighting or lights with movement detectors for common areas and other energy saving devices, will raise the value of units in the scheme, and this will help residents control their expenditure and save on electricity, said Hanekom.
Solar panels and heat pumps will save around 40% on the overall electricity bills and apart from these helping to save money they reduce the impact the development has on the environment. These energy saving systems usually pay for themselves within two to five years, after which the residents will continue to enjoy the reduction in their electricity bills each month.
LED lights or timer switches on certain lights will help save electricity consumption and the swimming pool pump (if applicable) can also be put on a reduced setting if a blanket is installed to prevent leaves and dirt from falling into the pool, she said.
All the above installations are listed as special projects, and trustees or managing agents might have been putting off carrying out this exercise because of a lack of funds or the reluctance to raise a special levy to cover the costs.
Propell do offer a solution in the form of special project finance, particularly for large projects where the body corporate might find it difficult to raise the special levy needed. In cases such as these the trustees would possibly find it quite easy to get all the owners to agree on paying a small amount each month to repay a loan, and once the loan is paid off they will reap the benefits of saving on their electricity bills each month.
In many cases, said Hanekom, the monthly saving on the municipal account could cover the repayment instalment each month.
Once the loan is repaid, the saving could also help the body corporate’s cash flow and reduce the need for future increases in levies or the need to raise special levies for other projects (i.e. they will be able to “bank” the surplus and build up a reserve fund).
“Propell offer project finance to assist managing agents and trustees tackle major projects with as little complication as possible and without having any of the trustees sign surety for the loan. This is usually what would put people off applying for credit in the first place,” said Hanekom. “The special project loan facility can remain in place indefinitely and will only incur costs when used. The managing agent is therefore freed to do his day to day job more effectively, which is to ensure the scheme is run efficiently.”