Investigating the financial implications of alternative water heating systems
Background: Electricity tariffs charged by Eskom have sharply increased over the past three years, with a 25% annual increase approved by Nersa until April 2012. There is no indication on what to expect in the future with regard to electricity tariffs. Many South Africans are searching for ways to save on their monthly electricity bills by seeking out alternative water heating systems. Solar geysers became a popular investment option, but this might not be the best options available on the market. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the most financially viable investment option in order to reduce electricity cost when it comes to water heating systems for use in households. This is done by comparing the capital expenditure and operational cost needed with the financial benefits generated by the investment, taking into consideration the size of the household. Design and method: A literature study was done on the different alternative water heating systems in order to obtain a better understanding of how these systems operate and what savings they can generate. Different investment appraisals were identified and a literature review was performed in order to identify the most appropriate investment appraisals for the purpose of this study. It was found that the net present value, equivalent annual annuity, internal rate of return, modified internal rate of return, accounting rate of return, discounted payback period and the economic value added were the best investment appraisal methods to use for the purpose of this study. Findings and conclusion: It was found that the five investment options identified in the literature review would all, to some extent, be financially viable to implement within households with high as well as low volume hot water consumption. All the investment appraisals gave positive outcomes. The conclusion was made that a saving will be generated on the monthly electricity bill no matter what alternative water heating system were to be installed in the place of a conventional geyser. Recommendations: It is recommended that a household with low volume hot water consumption should install a time switch as this investment option renders the highest IRR, MIRR, ARR and discounted payback period. The second best investment option for a household with low volume hot water consumption is a heat pump and the third best option is a gas geyser. For a household with high volume hot water consumption, the best investment options is again a time switch, as this renders the best IRR, MIRR, ARR and discounted payback period. The second best investment option is a heat pump, with a gas geyser as the third best investment option. Value of the research: This study focuses on five alternative water heating systems for a household within South Africa in times where electricity charges sharply increase. The financial viability of each of the alternatives is determined through various investment appraisals and the best option can be identified by comparing the outcomes of the alternatives. Furthermore, each individual is able to determine the viability of the alternatives by using the Excel model attached to this study and by inputting his/her own variables, where applicable. Research limitation: Limited literature was available on the different alternative water heating systems. No indication could be found of the maintenance cost of the different water heating systems. Assumptions had to be made with regard to households, although no two households are the same. Areas for further research: The same study could be performed, but with the focus on small businesses and large organisations. Furthermore, a study could be performed to determine the appropriate discount rate for individuals as well as the maintenance cost for water heating systems.