Mayor Urges Capetonians to Bring Down City's Carbon Footprint | Western Cape Government

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Mayor Urges Capetonians to Bring Down City's Carbon Footprint

26 January 2011

A recent climate change study which analysed greenhouse gases from 100 cities in 33 countries determined that Cape Town emits more greenhouse gases per capita than major cities like London and New York.

The study was not limited to the City's municipal area and instead covered the greater Cape Town region, including flight and harbour emissions (which should be part of the national carbon emissions inventory account, as opposed to an individual city's account). The study sought to establish low carbon zones in South Africa and was not considering a city metro area. The Cape Town metropole emits approximately 5.8 tons of carbon per capita (measured in 2007) as compared with the 11.7 tons per capita reflected in the article.

Despite the exaggeration in the article, the City has always maintained that Cape Town's emissions are unacceptably high and has implemented its own programmes to mitigate against this. For the City to be successful, residents must take responsibility for the city's future.

"We need to work together to bring down our carbon emissions and a few small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference," said the City's Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato.

The City would like to remind residents of a few tips to bring down both their carbon emissions and their electricity bills:


  • Maintaining a geyser temperature of 55 degrees Celsius uses considerably less energy than the standard 70 degrees Celsius. However, the geyser should not be dropped below 55 degrees Celsius.
  • In most cases, the thermostat is located inside the cover over the electrical element of the geyser. To lower the temperature, switch off the electricity circuit at the mains, undo the cover, and then turn down the thermostat using a screwdriver. Alternatively, hire a plumber to assist you.
  • Insulate your geyser and water pipes leading to the geyser (for 3 metres) to maximise heat retention.

Use less hot water

  • It helps to shower instead of bath, and to take shorter showers.
  • Install a water efficient shower-head.
  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.
  • Wash a full load of dishes, rather than one dish at a time.
  • Use cold water where possible for laundry washing.

Switch off equipment when not in use

  • Turn appliances off at the wall plug, rather than leaving them on standby. While on standby, appliances can still draw 20% (or more) of the electricity that they draw when in use.
  • Turn the geyser off when you go on holiday.

Reduce pool pump operation

  • If you have a pool with a cleaning system pump, drop its operating hours to the minimum, i.e. six hours a day.
  • Clean the filters regularly and consider installing a pool cover and switching off the pump in winter.

Reduce excessive heating or cooling

  • Heaters and air conditions are a large drain on power. The public are urged to use localised equipment rather than central air-conditioning or heating systems, and to only heat or cool occupied rooms.
  • The room temperature should not be more than 10 degrees Celsius above the outside/ambient temperature.
  • Fan or oil heaters with thermostats are best.
  • Avoid under-floor heating.
  • In summer use a fan rather than air-conditioning.
  • The best 'no cost' saving option is to wear warmer clothing in winter and open the windows in summer.

'Invest to save' - Install a solar water heater

  • Solar heaters typically save about two-thirds of a household's water heating cost, but this varies according to household. They should be installed with a timer for the best possible saving.
  • With rising electricity tariffs and the new subsidies from Eskom, the payback period for a solar heater is now no more than five years.

Install a heat pump

  • Heat pumps can serve as an alternative if a solar water heater is not a viable option.
  • Heat pumps can achieve similar savings, but are a relatively new technology for homes, so they are not well tested yet and may require more maintenance than a solar water heater.

Insulate the ceiling/roof

  • Good ceiling and roof insulation can keep the home up to five degrees Celsius warmer in winter and ten degrees Celsius cooler in summer. More comfortable indoor temperatures lessen the need for electrical heating and cooling.
  • Savings of about 75% are possible when adding insulation.
  • Insulating other parts of the home also helps. For example, preventing heat loss through windows or under doors.

Install efficient lighting

  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) use 75% less power than old incandescent bulbs, and they last much longer. Remember to dispose of these bulbs safely due to their potentially harmful chemicals.
  • LEDs are even more efficient and last 130 times longer than CFL bulbs; they serve as an ideal replacement for halogen down-lighting.

"I encourage all residents to monitor their electricity consumption and costs. Please encourage all those in your home to do the same, including children and domestic workers. Energy-efficient equipment goes hand in hand with a change in behaviour. It's no use installing energy-efficient lighting if you leave lights on when you're not in the room," said Mayor Plato.

The last financial year saw more than 100 projects across 51 programme areas ensuring that Cape Town is a more sustainable city, including:

  • The City's Electricity Savings campaign.
  • The City supports the ICLEI (local governments for sustainable development) Strategic Plan for 2010 - 2015.
  • The Climate Adaptation Plan of Action which seeks to reduce energy consumption.
  • Traffic lights have been retrofitted with energy efficient LEDs.
  • Public streetlights have been fitted with energy-efficient high-pressure sodium lamps.
  • The City launched Africa's first Clean Development Mechanism project in the Kuyasa informal settlement.
  • The mass roll-out of solar water heaters.
  • Greening of housing developments.
  • Institution of green building guidelines.
  • The Smart Living awareness campaign and Smart Events Handbook.
  • The sale of Green Energy certificates from the Darling wind farm to offset energy.
  • Education programmes at schools in the metro.
  • Carbon offset projects as part of Green Goal 2010.
  • Waste projects to use methane as an energy source.
  • The City participates in Earth Hour annually.

"Cape Town aims to consume 10% less energy by 2012. This will be achieved through a proactive roll-out of solar water heaters and an electricity savings campaign. The City is also encouraging more compact and resource-efficient development, but this can only be done through a strong partnership with our residents," said Mayor Plato.

For more information on ways to save electricity at home, please visit:

Issued by:
Communication Department
City of Cape Town

Media Enquiries: 

Rulleska Singh
Media Spokesperson for Office of the Executive Mayor
Tel: 021 400 1257
Cell: 082 402 4825

Sarah Ward
Energy and Climate Change Unit
Tel: 021 487 2124/2200
Cell: 084 606 7177