22 March 2018

Saving the planet is the right thing to do (and it can save you money)

My Money Matters |

You probably know that Earth Hour and World Water Day are around the corner, but do you know what these mean? We sat down with Aveshen Moodley, from Absa Corporate Real Estate Solutions, to talk about the bank’s efforts to promote these global events and remind us why we all, should care.

So, first things first – why should we take part in the Earth Hour and World Water Day movements? According to Moodley, the biggest misconception he has dealt with is that the public thinks that climate change is not their responsibility or that their actions won’t make a difference. “People think they shouldn’t care because it won’t have an impact on them, but it will affect everyone at some point. People also believe that they’re going to have to drastically change the way they live before it will make a difference that matters. In fact, something as simple as changing to a more efficient lightbulb or fixing a leaking tap will make a world of difference.” He added that the accumulation of a million small changes will make a greater and more sustainable difference than a handful of big changes.

The objective of International World Water Day is to create awareness around climate change and unite people across the globe. It’s no secret that we have limited freshwater resources on this planet. With water scarcity and draught being a very real issue for many around the world, we have more reason than ever to do our part. This year, World Water Day takes place on Thursday, 22 March and the United Nations-led event aims to educate the world population on the severity of the issue and teach us how to use water more sparingly.

Earth Hour aims to create the same awareness. An hour is set aside where people are encouraged to switch off their lights to make a positive contribution to this global issue. This year, Earth Hour takes place on Saturday, 24 March from 20:30 to 21:30.

According to Moodley, the Earth Hour initiative has become a bigger movement in recent years. “Thanks to social media we’ve seen people get actively involved. This is due to platforms like Twitter and Facebook increasing awareness –all around the world. .”

On that note, what is Absa doing to make a difference this year for Earth Hour? “We have a mass switch-off across the continent where we turn off the lights in our buildings. And on our Johannesburg CBD campus, we keep our critical infrastructure on for the weekend by using our gas power generation plant so there’s a massive environmental benefit,” Moodley explained. “We also run internal campaigns each year to increase awareness among employees.”

Earth Hour and Water Day are not once-off events for the bank. Absa has saved over R100 million in energy and water consumption over the last five years across multiple initiatives:

Final

Absa also drives numerous water-supply and water-saving initiatives across its regional offices, campus sites and branches:

  • Greywater plants in Johannesburg and Cape Town are fully functional;
  • Boreholes are up-and-running on Johannesburg and Pretoria campuses;
  • The installation of smart meters across 354 sites to measure water and electricity consumption;
  • Rainwater harvesting in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town shows solid progress;
  • Water storage units at 62 Absa sites in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape province, with a further 19 sites set for the Eastern Cape;
  • Absa buildings are equipped with sensor taps and auto-flush toilets to control water-flow rates; and
  • A natural dam at the Absa Waltloo Pretoria Campus captures rainwater for irrigation purposes.

But what can you do to play your part in saving water and conserving energy?

  • Switch to renewable energy solutions like a solar geyser and LED light bulbs – explore how Absa makes this possible for you;
  • Regularly identify, fix and monitor taps to avoid unnecessary leaks;
  • To get the most energy savings from your geyser, install a geyser blanket and insulate the first two meters of copper pipe;
  • Invest in showerheads that reduce water consumption;
  • Defrost your fridge/freezer frequently to improve appliance efficiency (‘strained’ fridge coils increase electricity consumption);
  • Unplug devices and appliances that are not in use or get a timer-plug or power strip that will decrease power usage;
  • Recycle greywater and reuse rainwater to flush your toilet; and
  • If you often forget to turn off lights manually, try a motion sensor.

“Something as simple as unplugging your microwave when it’s not in use will make a world of difference because this type of appliance uses more energy to show the time than it does to heat up food over its lifecycle. The same goes for phone chargers – they draw power even when they’re not in use,” Moodley continued. He added that a colleague tested this theory to see if it really makes a difference and she ended up saving more than R500 on her monthly electricity bill.

So, how is Absa passing these savings on to its customers? The home loans department now offers loans to fund energy-saving improvements to homes and businesses at a lower interest rate.

While you’re here, you could also read more about how to implement the use of solar in your business, renewable energy as a cost-effective solution for your home, or ways to save water.

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.

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