Power Load and GHG Reduction in the Residential Sector - Cape Town, South Africa

In February 2006, Cape Town experienced its worst power failure ever. The city had lost 75% of its power due to a failure on the grid. The city had to immediately remove 400 MW of unnecessary power usage from the grid. PEER, working as an ESCO, was hired by Eskom to field a team of workers to reduce the residential load to the grid in the downtown area. Mobilizing a team of over 300, including historically excluded youth workers, PEER initiated a residential weatherization and retrofitting (demand-side management) program that consisted of two elements – a swapping program and an installation program.

The swapping program consisted of swapping incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs), and regular showerheads for the low flow models. Swapping was done primarily through installations in homes. Additionally, booths were set up at local shopping malls to exchange bulbs and fixtures for residents whose homes were not on the direct install list. The installation program consisted of going into homes to replace the incandescent bulbs with CFLs, changing out the regular shower heads to the low flow models, turning down the thermostats on the hot water heaters and swimming pools, and insulating the hot water piping.

In all, PEER carried out the following efforts:

  • Swapped 290,000 traditional incandescent light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs).
  • Converted 10,000 traditional to low-flow showerheads. 
  • Insulated 3,900 water heaters.
  • Reduced water heater thermostat temperatures to 55 ºC.

PEER’s demand-side management program generated impactful results, including:

  • 40 Megawatts (MW) of peak demand reduction from the electric grid.
  • 50% reduction in residential peak load energy use.
  • Reducing energy use to 500 MW of demand.
  • Water savings of up to 50% in residences.
  • Substantial reductions in municipal CO2 emission.