Namibians ‘Ignorant’ of Energy Efficiency

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

Namibians have limited knowledge of energy efficient technologies even though threats of energy shortages loom.

Although the sales of these technologies have increased in the last two years, many people are still either ignorant or lack awareness.

These are findings of a baseline study on energy efficiency in rural and peri-urban areas conducted by the Desert Research Foundation Namibia (DRFN).

The findings were presented by Robert Schultz of the DRFN’S Energy Desk and discussed among stakeholders in the energy and renewable energy sector at a workshop yesterday.

Even in areas with abundant material that people could use to make their homes more energy efficient, materials such as clay, thatch grass and dung are used out of availability and not because inhabitants want to strive for energy efficiency.

Another survey on energy expenditure in low income rural and peri-urban households’ consumption and costs found that the majority of households used open fire, electricity, wood, paraffin and electricity for lighting, and wood and electricity for heating water.

The percentage of respondents using wood was more than 80 percent, followed by 59 percent for candles and about 43 percent for paraffin. The survey found that people paid to charge their mobile phones, to get their hair cut, for water and for electricity.

On average, a family paid N$267 for electricity, which is the second highest expenditure from petrol. Apart from electricity most money was spent on gas and wood.

The respondents using solar electricity made up close to five percent and those using it spent almost nothing.

However, none among the respondents in the energy efficient study used solar cookers, while only one percent used solar water heaters for heating their water.

The baseline efficiency study in rural and peri-urban areas conducted in June and July in 30 localities, found that respondents have little knowledge about the four principles of energy efficiency, namely insulation, ventilation, shading and colour.

Light colours reflect heat, while dark colours absorb heat. Roofs and walls should be painted in light colours in order to minimise heat absorption.

Casting shade onto a wall or roof will avoid direct sunlight, while blocking off direct sunlight minimises the absorption of heat.

Schultz said the reverse applies in winter, where solar heat might be beneficial in warming up a house.

Insulation, whose material can be obtained from recycled materials, creates a barrier to prevent the movement of heat, while air movement helps to carry heat away.

“Windows and other ventilation openings will prevent heat from accumulating inside a room by allowing heat to escape or to be transferred to the outside,” he said.

The respondemts in the survey had to answer questions, including how people keep warm inside the house, how many windows their houses have, the colour of their roofs, how many rooms their houses have and whether it was very cold in winter.

The majority (57 percent) said they used blankets to keep warm, 40 percent of the reponsdents said they have four or more windows, 27 percent had more than one room, 62 percent had shiny metal as the colour of the paint on their roofs, while 70 percnent had their roofs made of zinc metal.

The findings also indicate that walls of 38 percent of the respondents were made of zinc metal, 59 percent did not use any window insulation, while 76 percent had no ceiling insulation.

Schultz said this was an indication that many people were not yet investing in measures that would cost them less in the long run as opposed to short-term but costly technologies.

The study aimed at assessing the extent at which energy efficiency is incorporated in rural and peri-urban houses in Namibia.

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