As the temperatures drop, many of us will be longing for hot summer days while basking in the warm winter sun whenever we can. Another, less pleasant, reality of winter is the ever-looming possibility of load shedding.

The good news is that you can easily keep the cold at bay and the lights on with the help of our abundant all-year sunshine. With an average of over 2 500 hours of sunshine a year, compared to the majority installer of solar power, Europe, who has about 1 000 hours of sunshine a year, South Africa is an ideal country for solar power use.

Here are five things to consider if you are thinking about going off the grid at home or work.

Cost Saving

Electricity prices are on the rise as the cost of solar power comes down. Thanks advancing technology the cost of solar power is at 80c – R1 per kWh. This is far less than electricity, which increased by 9.41% at the beginning of April.

The initial installation of solar power can range from R30 000 to over R100 000 depending on the solution you choose and the power requirements. Different payment options are also available that should allow you to recoup the cost in about five years.

Whether you choose to only use solar for basic lighting and appliances, as a back-up or go completely off the grid, solar power is a long-term investment that adds value to your property while saving you on your electricity bill.

Solar Power Security

Having your home in darkness without a working security system during power outages does put you in a vulnerable position. Solar powered security alarms, cameras, gates and garages means that they stay on during power outages.

This also keeps your security system in better condition. Solar power means the batteries do not drain and recharge as much and there are less false alarms, such as those triggered when there is a loss of power.

Open for Business

Business owners, keep your businesses open and never lose out when the electricity goes off. Shopping malls and small businesses across South Africa are adopting solar energy as a way to remain open and save running costs.

Planet Saver

Solar energy is freely available, emission free and leads to less reliance on non-renewable resources such as coal. Using alternative power sources such as solar power means you can lower your carbon footprint, protect the environment and help reduce the effects of climate change.

Change It Up

In an effort to reduce your electricity bill, you may have already changes to LED and energy saver light bulbs. Using solar energy may make you more aware of your usage and help you to change your habits.

Avoiding standby mode by unplugging appliances when they’re not in use, buying energy efficient appliances, turning off your geyser and insulating your home are all simple ways of saving power no matter where it comes from.

Still have questions about becoming more energy efficient? Visit the Pretoria HOMEMAKERS Expo, 24 – 26 May at Sun Arena, Time Square to speak to an expert.