Myth Buster - Hot Water Geysers Published by Ken Nunes on 22/06/2021

Having read many articles circulating the internet, from quiet credible sources, relating to the possible savings of electricity if consumers turned their hot water geysers OFF when not in use, Suntricity decided to carry out our own research, to verify the reality. We installed WiFi electricity monitoring devices to the geyser electricity circuit (more information on this soon) to register electricity consumption of the geyser under the normal 24/7 operation, to then compared this to electricity consumption if the geyser electricity supply was turned ON between the hours of 01:00 and 05:00 OFF PEAK operation hours only.

Evolution of Average Electricity kWh Cost in Joburg Published by Ken Nunes on 29/12/2020

With the focus on Water Cost front and centre on this FirstLook blog, we have only just realised the failure to publish the Evolution Average Electricity kWh Costs in Johannesburg, long published for Water Charges.With this blog post, we are happy to rectify this oversight. To clarify, the graph shows the Average kWh Cost, including: kWh Charges, Network Charges, Service Charges, >>>>>

Actual v Estimated 2020 Published by Ken Nunes on 27/12/2020

The effect of Actual v Estimated Readings in COJ can often cause serious Billing Irregularities and school should pay attention to this detail. One school we are presently involve with has not been presented an Actual Electricity Reading since May 2017 and the Electricity Meter detailed on the Municipal Invoice has long been removed from the school, causing an almost R500,000 over billing issue. The COJ Electricity and Water invoice generally has 2 Pages: Page 1 presents the Outstanding Balance, Payment Received, any Interest Overcharge and the Monthly Charges (Plus VAT).

Newsletter SignUp Published by Ken Nunes on 01/10/2020

SignUp to our Newsletter and receive additional news and reports as soon as they are published.

Waiting for perfect means not starting... Published by Ken Nunes on 18/09/2020

As an avid reader of Seth Godin, his excellent PERMISSION MARKETING (1999) and UNLEASHING THE IDEA VIRUS (2001), together with his equally excellent thought provoking daily blog, inevitability from a marketing perspective, which readers can easily relate to day-to-day challenges of getting their individual messages across to a Client, boss or maybe the Team of people they are working with.

Backcasting for Schools Published by Ken Nunes on 07/09/2020

Backcasting is a term invented by The Natural Step, which imagines a future vision and ideal objective and once having imagined the vision, understanding the steps that need to be taken to achieve this vision. The Natural Step (Canada) defines this as follows: “The concept of “backcasting” is central to a strategic approach for sustainable development. It is a way of planning, in which a successful outcome is imagined in the future, followed by the question:

Joburg Water Cost Calculator Published by Ken Nunes on 05/08/2020

As Johannesburg Customers well know, annual Water (and Electricity, Refuse and Property) Tariff increases are introduced on the 1st July of each year. And inspire of the difficulties being experienced in South Africa in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, this year is no exception. Suntricity introduced in 2019 a Water Cost Calculator, a simple online tool where schools can visit and introduce the average monthly water consumption (in KL) and the tool immediately calculates the increase applied by the Municipality.

COST OF ELECTRICITY AND WATER 2020/2021 Published by Ken Nunes on 03/08/2020

As we are all well aware, Municipal tariffs take effect from the 1st July of each year for both Electricity and Water and in spite of the turmoil’s of 2020, the same occurred in 2020. The increases will begin to reflect in the August Municipal accounts - consumption that occurs in July is invoiced in August. The increases for Johannesburg are approximately 12.5% Electricity and 9.50% WATER.

Water Loss Outside of School Hours Published by Ken Nunes on 29/07/2020

I have for some time stressed the importance of data capture, although have only ever published the end results. The image above is a collage of almost one month of photographs of a schools' Water Meter, religiously taken each and every school day (not weekends) at around 6am and 6pm. At the particular school in question >>>>>

Water Consumption During COVID-19 Imposed Lockdown 2020 Published by Ken Nunes on 27/07/2020

Many of Firstlook™ Blogs have, since 2015, stressed the importance of data capture and data analysis. The CV-19 imposed lockdown, provided a unique opportunity and perspective, to totally understand water consumption during an extended period, where no one was at the school for an unusually extended period. The data presented in the graphs below, gives us an insight into two schools where AQUASTOP™ is installed:

2020/2021 Joburg Water Increases Published by Ken Nunes on 22/07/2020

Following the publication of the annual increase of Water 2020/2021 (See Here >>>>>), we have updated our Water Increase graph above, which details the Average Cost of Water per KL for Schools in Johannesburg from July 2020 to June 2021 is approximately R75.58 per KL including Sewage Charges and VAT.

July 2020 Municipal Statement Delay Published by Ken Nunes on 21/07/2020

Schools (and Joburg general Customers) will have notices that the July 2020 Municipal Invoices have still not been received. The Municipality published an explanation (See here >>>>>), which tells us: This is due to the implementation of the 2020/2021 tariff increases that was approved at a virtual Council meeting held on 9 July 2020. Furthermore, the City's financial year came to an end on 30 June 2020 and systems had to be adjusted.

Collecting and Analysing Data in Important Published by Ken Nunes on 20/07/2020

Municipal Electricity and Water tariff increases take effect on the 1st July every year and although we are in turbulent times, 2020 is not exception. We can close our eyes and hope it will go away or maybe we won't notice, but the reality is, from the 1st July 2020, the following approximate Municipal Tariffs increases apply:

New Realities... Published by Ken Nunes on 28/05/2020

From one day to the next something happened. In mid-March 2020 we were told everything will be in lockdown for three weeks...then five weeks, to the end of April 2020...which was then extended to the end of May...and we are told schools will begin to open in June 2020. Whilst the main function of schools is Learning and Teaching, there is now an additional - and as important - Safety responsibility, that Administrators and SGB must also guarantee. >>>>>

SchoolScape 2020 Gauteng Published by Ken Nunes on 13/03/2020

What a great event at SchoolScape Johannesburg on the 13th March 2020. Over 100 schools in Gauteng were represented, and Suntricity had the pleasure of meeting old friends and making new contacts. The exhibition was organised by SchoolAdvisor's excellent Team, which provided the platform of over 60 Service Providers to demonstrate their extensive >>>>>

FirstLook™ NEW LOOK Blog Published by Ken Nunes on 21/08/2019

FirstLook™ is always looking to understand the Electricity and Water consumption and cost in Schools from the perspective of: How can we make the data more interesting for the decision makers at schools. Whilst providing relevant quality content will always be the primary objective, we do appreciate that presentation of the content must also be appealing, particularly understanding we are addressing a sector with very limited free time.

Northcliff High - Walking on Sunshine Published by Ken Nunes on 19/08/2019

Northcliff High in Randburg, Johannesburg, took the leap of faith back in September 2017, to install a 40KW Solar PV System, way ahead of the curve, of what is surely soon to be an avalanche of Solar PV installations in Schools. And although Municipal KVA Incorrect Billing continues to question the viability of the investment, the above graph, which details the electricity consumption during the last weekend (17th & 18th August 2019), clearly illustrates the enormous savings being >>>>>

Water Increase Calculator Published by Ken Nunes on 13/08/2019

Suntricity is pleased to introduce our EXCLUSIVE WATER INCREASE CALCULATOR (Johannesburg), which by simply entering your schools Average Monthly Water Consumption, will immediately calculate the additional cost your school will pay for water from July 2019. The importance of Water Efficiency has become increasingly important from an environmental perspective and with average cost increases of over 12.00% the financial benefits are very clear.

2019/2020 Water Increases Published by Ken Nunes on 08/08/2019

Following the publication of the annual increase of water in August 2019 (See Here>>>>>>) together with the Municipal (COJ) Water Tariff Increases not effective, we confirm the Average Cost of Water for Schools in Johannesburg is now R69.02 per KL including Sewage Charges. As can be seen from the above graph, Suntricity has tracked the Evolution of Cost since 2012 and with the increases 2019/2020, which this you is 12.07%.

Electricity Increases 2019/2020 Published by Ken Nunes on 07/08/2019

With Municipal Invoices in Johannesburg already being received (in early August), Schools are, for the first time, seeing the effective increase in Electricity Tariffs, which came into effect in July. The increase adds another approximately ± 12.3% to the annual Electricity bill, which for the average Primary School, implies ±R42,700 per annum. Note: A more precise annual calculation will be published when the Summer Rates are presented in the October invoices.

2019/2020 Water Increases UPDATE Published by Ken Nunes on 13/07/2019

Having now received Water invoices from Schools in July 2019, the Estimated Readings detail the NEW 2019/2020 Water Charges, which came into effect in July 2019. The following Increases will come as no surprise:

AquaStop™ by Suntricity Published by Ken Nunes on 25/06/2019

Suntricity began the Pilot Demonstration Project of AQUASTOP™ at Northcliff Primary School in Johannesburg on the 1st December 2017, which after the first 12-months achieved overall water reduction and cost by 50%, by simply controlling the amount of water consumed Outside of School Hours. >>>>>

Understanding Electricity Tariff Regimes Published by Ken Nunes on 17/06/2019

Having previously discussed the theme of Is Your School Paying too much for Electricity, we have just completed a study of the Municipal Electricity Accounts of another Primary School in Johannesburg, which perfectly highlights the serious problem of Incorrect Tariff Regime. As a Principal and SGB, you are of course expected to understand the different tariff regime the Municipality

Electricity & Water Increases 2019/2021 in Johannesburg Published by Ken Nunes on 30/05/2019

In accordance with the CITY OF JOHANNESBURG - DRAFT MEDIUM-TERM BUDGET 2019/20 TO 2021/22 MARCH 2019, Electricity & Water prices will increase by a solid 12.2% (Electricity) and 9.9% (Water & Sanitation) in July 2019. Furthermore, increases of a similar nature is expected in 2020 and 2021, as recently discussed in Suntricity Blog.

Inspirational Video Published by Ken Nunes on 15/04/2019

FirstLook™ as an Online Software Platform is developed on the web application framework known on Ruby on Rails, which was developed by David Heinemeier Hansson. David made a presentation at Startup School in 2008 and although this is a full 11-years ago, there are many extremely valuable idea he shared. The presentation is a full 30 minutes long, where the simplicity of though has always inspired me. Do take time to have a listen. :)

COJ Invoices Electricity & Water - Actual v Estimated Published by Ken Nunes on 19/03/2019

After 3 months of studying 2019 COJ Municipal Invoices, it is interesting to compare Actual v Estimated invoices issues to school by the Municipality for Electricity & Water. The predominant Estimate Invoices is that of Water/Sewage (31.48%), where in our experience, is one of the principle causes of Billing errors. Indeed, the article published by Suntricity in September 2018 entitled Common Causes of Incorrect Billing: Extended Estimated Reading Periods, describes precisely the problem Estimated Billing can cause.

The AquaStop™ Effect Published by Ken Nunes on 16/03/2019

Over the last years, Suntricity has posted several blogs on Water Consumption in Schools in Johannesburg, where extensive monitoring has been carried out, and where we have found as much as 60% of Water Consumption occurs OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS. Considering the average cost of water in Johannesburg is now around R61.50 (including Sewage and VAT), (expected to increase by a further 12% in July 2019), Water Efficiency is quite clearly, a priority in Schools.

Battery Storage Electricity Published by Ken Nunes on 11/03/2019

With the evolution of Electric Vehicles, Battery Storage Technology has continued to introduce innovation and reduce costs over the past years, where, from a commercial perspective, has become a justifiable part of the energy mix in the South African context - energy security being the major advantage. Indeed, Battery Storage is now able to compete with "polluting" Emergency Diesel Generators.

Electricity Tariff Increases 2019, 2020 and 2021 Published by Ken Nunes on 08/03/2019

An article published by the Engineering News on the 7th March 2019, details the following: "South Africa Energy Regulator has granted Eskom allowable revenue of R206.38-billion for 2019/20, which will translate into a tariff increase of 9.41% from April 1, exclusive of the 4.41% hike sanctioned following an adjudication, in 2018, of three Eskom regulatory clearing account (RCA) applications. The State-owned utility is allowed to increase tariffs to direct customers by 13.82% on April 1 2019 and further granted increases of 8.1% and 5.22% for 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively."

Solar PV for Schools Published by Ken Nunes on 28/02/2019

With the recent spate of ESKOM load shedding, the Solar PV industry is again abuzz with excitement, as Schools seek a solutions to mitigate the constant electricity disruption. Suntricity has created the following Guide to assist SGB's to make an informed decision.

The Benefits of Saving Water Published by Ken Nunes on 14/01/2019

With Water Costs in Johannesburg now R61.50 per KL, Saving water should be a priority for schools. This simple calculation is an indication of how savings can influence the schools costs.

Water Consumption when Schools are Closed Published by Ken Nunes on 02/11/2018

Of the annual 8,760 hours of the year, school are effectively CLOSED for approximately 6,960 hours. This implies that for the best part of 80% of the school year, there is no one there. You will be amazed to learn how much Water is actually being consumed in your absence!!!

Invest in Your Schools' Water Infrastructure Published by Ken Nunes on 28/10/2018

Did you know that the cost of Water increased by 20,50% in July 2018 and now stands at R61.50 per KL (including VAT). What does this mean for your school???

SIGN UP for Suntricity Manual Water Monitoring Program Published by Ken Nunes on 01/10/2018

For the last 6 years, Suntricity has carried out extensive real-time monitoring of Electricity and Water in Schools in Gauteng, providing critical data from which efficiency measures can be determined. Real-Time Monitoring is however an expensive operation, which involves the installation of a “check meter” together with monitoring data equipment, data-loggers, and much more, together with monthly reporting for a period of 12 months.

AQUASTOP™ - What a Difference a Year Makes Published by Ken Nunes on 26/09/2018

Having monitored and tracked Water Consumption Outside Of School Hours for some time, Suntricity conceived and developed AQUASTOP™, aimed specifically at eliminating water waste when no one is at school. A Pilot Demonstration Project of AquaStop™ was installed at Northcliff Primary on the 1st December 2017, and we are now able to publish (for the first time), the significant difference AQUASTOP™ has made over the first 9 months of September 2018.

INCORRECT ELECTRICITY TARIFF Published by Ken Nunes on 16/09/2018

Schools in Johannesburg are generally attributed one of the following two tariff regimes by the Municipality: BUSINESS TARIFF: The Municipality defines a Business Tariff Consumer as: “...applicable to supply consumption capacities not exceeding 100 kVA…” LARGE CONSUMER: Large Consumer tariff is defined as: “...applicable to Business consumers, with supply capacities exceeding 100 kVA”. 
 Generally, for Primary Schools, Business Tariff is Applied and for Secondary/High Schools, Large Consumer is applied.

60% Water Consumed Outside of School Hours Published by Ken Nunes on 14/09/2018

Water consumption in Schools in Johannesburg is a serious issue, particularly considering the ongoing water shortages in parts of South Africa. Importantly, schools can very quickly discover their water consumption and cost over the past 2 to 3 years through Municipal Invoice Analysis, one of the fundamental objectives of Firstlook™.

Recycling in Lisbon, Portugal Published by Ken Nunes on 12/09/2018

During a recent visit to Lisbon, Portugal, I came across an interesting recycling deposit centre, located just outside a local supermarket.


The article published by Suntricity on the 25th August 2018 titled COJ Incorrect Billing, highlighted 5 Categories of Common Causes for Billing Errors of the COJ Invoice for Schools. The article briefly describes each of the 5 Categories, where a further and deeper understanding of each Category is felt necessary. This article focuses on the 5th and final most common cause of COJ Billing Irregularities: Extended Estimated Readings Period


The article published by Suntricity on the 25th August 2018 titled COJ Incorrect Billing, highlighted 5 Categories of Common Causes for Billing Errors of the COJ Invoice for Schools. The article briefly describes each of the 5 Categories, where a further and deeper understanding of each Category is felt necessary. This article therefore focuses on the 4th most common cause of COJ Billing Irregularities: VANDALISM.

COJ Summer and Winter Electricity Tariffs Published by Ken Nunes on 08/09/2018

City of Johannesburg Municipal Tariffs increases are introduced on the 1st June of each year, although, as Schools Municipal Invoices are post-paid (paid after consumption), the increases will appear one month later.

PREPARING FOR 2019 Published by Ken Nunes on 07/09/2018

Having just entered September 2018, and understanding the school year effectively finishes in mid November, it may be opportune for schools to look ahead to 2019, with the objective of developing a strategy to reduce the ever increases burden of Electricity and Water Accounts. With Electricity tariffs increasing by ±7.5% and Water almost 20%, the decision to look at Municipal Account more carefully and achieve cost savings should definitely be a priority for Schools.

Manual Water Meter Monitoring for Schools in SA Published by Ken Nunes on 06/09/2018

Having carried out Real-Time Water Monitoring and more recently Manual Water Meter Monitoring at schools in the Johannesburg, you may be surprised to learn that Water consumption OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS, can be as high as 60%. Just to clarify: Outside of School Hours is the period when NO ONE IS AT THE SCHOOL, I.E. DURING THE NIGHT, WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS... :)


The article published by Suntricity on the 25th August 2018 titled COJ Incorrect Billing, highlighted 5 Categories of Common Causes for Billing Errors of the COJ Invoice for Schools, where a further and deeper understanding of each Category is felt necessary. This article therefore focuses on an unlikely but common cause of COJ Billing Irregularities: WATER METERS APPEARING ON THE MUNICIPAL INVOICE NOT INSTALLED AT THE SCHOOL


The article published by Suntricity on the 25th August 2018 titled COJ Incorrect Billing, highlighted 5 Categories of Common Causes for Billing Errors of the COJ Invoice for Schools, where a further and deeper understanding of each Category is felt necessary. This article therefore focuses on the 2nd most common cause of COJ Billing Irregularities: ARITHMETICAL (MULTIPLICATION) ERROR


The article published by Suntricity on the 25th August 2018 titled COJ Incorrect Billing, highlighted 5 Categories of Common Causes for Billing Errors of the COJ Invoice for Schools. The article briefly describes each of the 5 Categories, where a further and deeper understanding of each Category is felt necessary. This article therefore focuses on the most common cause of COJ Billing Irregularities: CHANGE OF WATER METER.

The R2Billion Question - Revisited Published by Ken Nunes on 28/08/2018

In April 2017, we published an article entitled A TWO BILLION RAND QUESTION, discussing the cost of Electricity and Water in Gauteng Schools. Certain assumptions were made which we felt needed to be explored in detail and with more precise data, in order to verify the assumptions. This article revisits the theme and goes into further detail, with the aim of establishing a more precise value of electricity and water costs in schools, utilising Municipal Invoices of 36 schools.

COJ INCORRECT BILLING Published by Ken Nunes on 25/08/2018

We read with interest the Article titled: City Power to monitor meter linked to R17 million billpublished in the Times Northcliff Melville, written by Andile Dlodlo. The property owner claims corruption, where the Municipality claims the R17m invoice is due to a Billing Error. Suntricity has studied 1000’s of Municipal Electricity and Water accounts for Schools over the last 5 years, and it would be fair to say that corruption is the least likely cause of Billing Irregularities…the COJ Billing System does however, have a serious problem.

Increased Cost of Water in COJ Published by Ken Nunes on 24/08/2018

Increased Water & Sewage Tariffs in the City of Johannesburg come into effect on the 1st June of each year, although the true effect does not reflect in your accounts until July or maybe August. We have carried out a study of these increases since 2012, and unless you already follow these annual increases carefully, you may be somewhat surprised.

Northcliff High Leading the Way in Solar PV Published by Ken Nunes on 17/09/2017

It is with great pleasure I can report that NORTHCLIFF HIGH, in Johannesburg, now has a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system as part of a strategy to reduce cost of electricity. After two years of electricity data monitoring carried out by Suntricity, and having already replaced a significant part of the existing fluorescent lamps for efficient LED's, Northcliff High is further leading the way by taking the ambitious step of installing Solar PV.

Disposal of Used Fluorescent Lamps Published by Ken Nunes on 06/08/2017

Whilst Suntricity has encouraged all schools to change their existing fluorescent lamps to LED as a matter of priority, we have been made aware of the need to ensure that the old fluorescent lamps are safely disposed of, bearing in mind the various environmental concerns of fluorescent lamps.

LED Lamps - Because it Makes Sense Published by Ken Nunes on 12/07/2017

As can be seen in many blogs over the last 2 years, Suntricity recommends to all schools that their present fluorescent lamps be substituted for LED Lamps. Schools generally make the change as fluorescent lamps blow, which of course is easy to understand. However, with the present average cost of electricity at approximately R2.50 per kWh in Johannesburg schools, and the affordable prices of LED lamps, the maths is compelling.

Pretermination Notices Charges by the Municipality Published by Ken Nunes on 20/06/2017

When Municipal customers do not pay electricity or water bill, they run the risk of being disconnected. A PRETERMINATION NOTICE charge is applied to their invoice (under SUNDRY items), which basically covers the administration cost of the Municipality. Suntricity, studying the hundreds of Municipal invoices each month are noticing an increasing trend for the Municipality to apply these charges to schools, even though their accounts are fully paid.

Boekenhout Primary Energy Efficiency and Solar PV Published by Ken Nunes on 08/05/2017

In 2014, Hendry and I were involved in the Energy and Climate Change Strategy (ECCS) in Public Sector Buildings for the Department of Energy (DOE). One of the concluding recommendations made was to carry out a series of Pilot Project, financed by the DOE, aimed at proving the potential effective savings that would be achieved, should a variety of energy efficiency measures were implemented, together with the installation of a Solar PV system, which would cover the Baseload of schools.

A TWO BILLION RAND QUESTION Published by Ken Nunes on 07/04/2017

I have had the privilege of speaking with so many of Johannesburg’s school Administrators over the last years, and the one common questions I ask is: Are you aware of how your Electricity and Water/Sewage compare with other schools in Johannesburg. By far, the most common response has been a resounding NO.

#001 ONLINE SURVEY FOR SCHOOLS Published by Ken Nunes on 26/03/2017

We have today launched our first Online Survey - SURVEY #001 - COST OF ELECTRICITY AND WATER IN SCHOOLS, specifically aimed at Principals, Bursars and SGB Members of schools in Johannesburg.

Positive Experience - CoJ E-Service Call Centre Published by Ken Nunes on 25/03/2017

So often we have heard about extremely negative experiences of our Municipalities and Utilities call centres (Trevor Noah's report on ESKOM is probably the best/worst albeit very exaggerated), that we tend to forget that real people are trying to respond to our needs. I had occasion to speak to the GENERAL ENQUIRES 0860 562 874, to report a problem at one of our schools in Johannesburg.

Just Rewards... Published by Ken Nunes on 14/03/2017

I am sometimes asked the question: What good will Electricity and Water monitoring data do for my school? It’s a trick question of course…no intelligent person would ask such a question, unless to promote a reaction. :) Efficiency intervention to reduce consumption is always welcome. However, I like to think that whilst any efficiency intervention must be considered a good thing, obtaining qualified results, by understanding the difference your interventions (and investments) make, becomes strategic. Data has no value in a desk drawer…!!!

Is your school paying too much for Electricity? Published by Ken Nunes on 14/02/2017

Many of the schools we speak to in Johannesburg feel that the cost of their electricity is too high. There are two main reasons for high electricity cost in schools: 1. You may be on the wrong tariff. 2. You are consuming too much kWh. While ITEM 2 is within the control of the individual school to become more efficient, ITEM 1 is rather complex, although relatively simple to determine.

New Year, Renew Ambitions...2017 Published by Ken Nunes on 05/01/2017

With matrix results now being announced, we hope the achievements of your school was an improvement on previous years and wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2017. The beginning of a new year always gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved over the past year, and to understand how this will serve as the base for further improvements for the rest of the new year. At First Look™, we will continue to remind you that there is much to be done relating to Electricity and Water consumption and costs in schools and to let you know that we are here to help in any way possible.

Enjoying the Successes of 2016... Published by Ken Nunes on 10/12/2016

With the end of the school year 2016, and having had the privilege of interacting with several school Principal's these last weeks, we were again reminded of the multitude of tasks that Principals and their SGB's are responsible for, to ensure the good functioning of their schools, which impacts the lives of so many. We found ourselves asking the question: How can Electricity and Water consumption and cost ever become a priority in schools...

Are Schools the Proverbial Cash Cows of Municipalities Published by Ken Nunes on 01/12/2016

We recently made a presentation of the many virtues of FIRSTLOOK™, and having explained the Platforms' Key Performance Indicators and the data the system analyses, the impression of delegates was: Schools are being used as a Cash Cow by the Municipalities, in terms of Electricity and Water billing. It was also suggested that schools should somehow be paying a reduced tariff for the services the Municipality provides for Electricity and Water.

Make Electricity and Water Costs a Priority in your School Published by Ken Nunes on 07/11/2016

Having spoken to so many people involved in all aspects of the Administration of Schools, a common thread we have observed is that there are so many day-to-day issues to solve and resolve, there is little time to understand Electricity and Water consumption and cost. Whilst this is very easy to understand, (bearing in mind that the main objective of schools is teaching our children), we do need to understand that the cost of Electricity and Water can be a high percentage of the total budget of the school. In fact, from information we have had confidential access to, the total cost of Electricity and Water, can be far more than the Total Allocation received by schools from the Department of Education.

HELP SAVE WATER IN SCHOOLS Published by Ken Nunes on 03/11/2016

This photograph was taken during a visit to one of the school's Suntricity is presently carrying out Real-Time Monitoring. It is an example of the kind of action that schools are adopting, in order to promoting Water Saving, focusing on the continuing problems we are faced with in South Africa, in terms of the shortages of water.

Water Restriction Surcharge Published by Ken Nunes on 01/11/2016

As a result of the continued drought and water shortage in Gauteng, several Municipalities recently announced an additional surcharge for excessive water consumption. So it was no surprise to see this month (October 2016) Municipal Invoice of an Ekuruhleni School, which details exactly this: "WA-RESTR-SURCH" (which we assumed translates to: Water Restriction Surcharge). See invoice extract...

Installing LED Lighting in Schools Published by Ken Nunes on 28/10/2016

Replacing your school's existing and very energy consuming fluorescent lamps with LED Lamps is a strong recommendation of Suntricity. The fact that LED equivalent consume at least 60% less electricity, schools looking to reduce consumption (and therefore costs) it's an obvious LOW HANGING FRUIT.

One swallow does not a summer make Published by Ken Nunes on 23/10/2016

During this week we have been blessed with solid rainfalls throughout South Africa, which at least brings relief to our farmers and stressed dams. However, just as the old saying One Swallow does not a Summer Make, these first rains does not resolve the well documented water shortage problems of we have in our country. It is therefore important that we not immediately feel a false sense of security and return to our old wasteful ways.

Average Water & Sewage Charges in Johannesburg 2016/2017 Published by Ken Nunes on 21/10/2016

With the 2016/2017 Municipal Water & Sewage increases now fully implemented into the invoices at Schools in Johannesburg, we can now report the NEW Average Costs of Water & Sewage Charges for the next 12-months - to July 2017.

The Importance of Constant Maintenance of School Toilet Facilities Published by Ken Nunes on 20/10/2016

From data captured through Real-Time Monitoring in schools in Johannesburg, Suntricity has found that there is (what we term) a "BASE WASTE" of around 10 KL of Water each some schools, this could be much more. 10 KL (the volume detailed on Municipal Invoices) is of course a colossal 10 000 Litres! Yes, 10 000Litres of Water Wasted each day. At one particular (and very common) school, our Real-Time Monitoring data indicated a constant consumption of approximately 300 Litres every 15-minutes Outside of School Hours.

BENEFITS OF FIRSTLOOK™ and REAL-TIME MONITORING Published by Ken Nunes on 26/09/2016

Suntricity has developed FIRSTLOOK™ - an Online Database Platform, specifically for schools to enable a thorough understanding of both consumption and costs of Electricity and Water over a period of 4-years. In the absence of qualified data, FIRSTLOOK™ provides the basic information, which, through Key Performance Indicators, gives crucial data sets, highlighting where further investigation is needed and where cost effective intervention would be best made.

Recycling in Schools - Johannesburg Published by Ken Nunes on 19/09/2016

This is a first...having visited so many schools in Johannesburg, today was indeed the first time we have seen a concerted effort of recycling in schools. Hopefully this is a real sign of good things to come...

KPI - Efficiency League Table Published by Ken Nunes on 27/08/2016

With over 50 schools now forming part of the FirstLook™ Online Platform, we are able to bring another important Key Performance Indicator - the Efficiency League Table...

KPI - Average Cost of Electricity and Water Published by Ken Nunes on 29/07/2016

We are happy to report a further addition to the growing Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) of FirstLook. This latest edition indicates the Average Cost of Electricity (kWh) and Water (KL) at your school.

Link to Electricity and Water Tariff Increases in Johannesburg Published by Ken Nunes on 21/06/2016

As we are all aware, the Electricity and Water tariff increases will commence from the 1st July 2016. The fact that the invoices are presented the month after (i.e. costs for July will be invoiced in August), the effect of the increase will not be felt until August, and more likely in September, when the first full months readings is taken.

KPI - Estimated v Actual Reading Published by Ken Nunes on 11/05/2016

We are happy to report that we have added a new Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to FirstLook, which now enables you to immediately visualise which of the schools Municipal and Utility invoices has been ESTIMATED and which was an ACTUAL Reading.

Confusion Reigns... Published by Ken Nunes on 21/04/2016

Over the last months, we have been tracking the continual confusion being created as a result of the billing practices of the City of Johannesburg, where a "NEW ACCOUNT" has been created by the Municipality, which incorporates RATES, ELECTRICITY, WATER and REFUSE costs, and where the "existing" accounts (both Electricity and Water) have been CLOSED. Problem is, the schools have not been notified of this change, no bills are being received by the schools and the Municipality sends"contractors" (at some schools every week) to terminate the services for non-payment.

Anticipating Electricity and Water Tariff Increases 2016/2017 Published by Ken Nunes on 17/03/2016

First Look’s article dated 1st July 2015 and entitled 2015/2016 Electricity and Water Tariff Increases, reported on the increases of electricity and water for the year 2015/2016, which came into effect (as it does every year) on the 1st July. Back then we reported: Imagine the not uncommon scenario that your schools' present annual Electricity bill is R200 000 and Water R300 000, you will be paying an additional R66,380.00 per year. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) granted Eskom a 9,4% electricity tariff increase from July...

Irrigating Sports Fields and Watering Gardens in Schools Published by Ken Nunes on 06/02/2016

Although news of the prolonged water crisis in South Africa continues to make almost daily news headlines, it is hard to understand if anyone is actually taking a blind bit of notice to the call for action by Municipalities and Government or making any visible effort to minimally reduce consumption. This is particularly evident in schools, where, with thousands of learners needing to be provided with the best possible facilities, schools's Facility Managers are caught between a rock and a very hard place.

A New Look for FIRSTLOOK™ Published by Ken Nunes on 05/02/2016

To date, FirstLook™ as a Online Platform has focused exclusively on analysing Municipal Electricity and Water Invoices over a period of 3-years from which relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are developed. In parallel, our Real-Time Monitoring data reporting was hosted on a separate online Platform, from which information received every 15-minutes could be visualised.

Worst Design Ever Award (Part II) Published by Ken Nunes on 02/02/2016

On the 30th June 2015, we published an article on the flushing of boys urinals in the toilet facilities of schools in Johannesburg (this may be the case throughout South Africa), which is the single cause of significant waste of water...

Information is Power Published by Ken Nunes on 01/02/2016

The news that the electricity supply at one of Johannesburg’s High Schools was disconnected by the Municipality last week (28th January), could be seen as a wake up call. Sad as it is, it is the consequence of hoping the non-payment of utility services at schools will simply go away if it is ignored for long enough.


We wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2016. At First Look™, we begin the year full of ambition to continue the strategy we are developing, in terms of spreading our ever-increasing knowledge of Energy and Water Efficiency in the Education Sector. This includes gathering statistics of consumption and cost in schools, through carefully studying Municipal Invoices, as well as carrying out real-time monitoring and online reporting, where measurements of consumption are taken every 15 minutes for a full year.

Consumption comparison between schools in Johannesburg and London... Published by Ken Nunes on 07/11/2015

A questions often asked when making a presentation to schools in Johannesburg is "How does the consumption and cost of electricity and water in our schools in Johannesburg compare with those in say London?" In truth, information is not widely available to make this direct comparison. As a result, First Look has decided to bridge this gap...

Every Drop Counts... Published by Ken Nunes on 30/10/2015

Over the last months, First Look has published several Blogs on the issue of Water, more importantly Waste of Water in schools. This waste is of course not exclusive to schools. We see it everywhere and we are all individually responsible for assuming water is an inexhaustible resource and the responsibility of others to ensure it's there when we turn the tap on...With the announcement on the 28th October by Rand Water this all changed...

Preparing a Future... Published by Ken Nunes on 20/10/2015

We were recently invited to make a presentation to the School Governing Body (SGB) of a Johannesburg school. As you will all know, SGB meetings are generally at the end of a long day, where crucial decisions are taken regarding the management of schools, often hard to get a full quorum to attend. It was therefore so refreshing to see all members of the SGB present, together with...

Water and Sewage Charged in Ekurhuleni Municipality Published by Ken Nunes on 06/10/2015

We were recently invited to visit a schools in Ekuhuleni Municipality, where we were given sight of the Ekurhuleni Municipality invoice relating to Electricity & Water, which although the content (of the invoice) is "essentially" the same, it has to be said that the Johannesburg Municipality invoices is much more detailed, indeed much "clearer". However, that's just about where any the similarity comes to an abrupt halt...

The Long Road to Efficiency - Reducing Electricity and Water Consumption in Schools Published by Ken Nunes on 05/10/2015

As previously reported, Suntricity attended the SAPA Conference 2015, held at the Broadwalk Convention Centre in PE between the 25th and 28th September and one of the most common questions asked was: Why is Suntricity focused on monitoring electricity and water consumption, when the name of the company suggest Solar Electricity? It's an interesting question and one which needs to be understood...

The Viability of Solar Panels in Schools Published by Ken Nunes on 04/10/2015

Another question raised by one school Principal at the SAPA Conference was: I would like to install solar panels in my school, how much will it cost? This is not an uncommon question and certainly a valid one, considering the recent increased costs (over the last 5-years) of electricity in South Africa. The response given was unfortunately not what the Principal wanted to hear...

SAPA Conference 2015 in Port Elizabeth Published by Ken Nunes on 03/10/2015

We had so much fun presenting First Look at the SAPA Conference 2015 in Port Elizabeth, which took place between the 25th and 28th September.

Get on the Right Side of your Electricity Tariff Published by Ken Nunes on 15/09/2015

In a previous article on First Look Blog, we suggested that “Most schools (dependent on the size of the incoming electrical supply) have been “attributed” the BUSINESS TARIFF”. And while it is true that “most” schools (especially Primary Schools) are indeed on this Tariff, there are exceptions!!! We were recently introduced to a Primary School who is one of the “exceptions”…and the results are devastating.

Back-dated Electricity and Water Invoices Published by Ken Nunes on 29/08/2015

Over time, most schools would have received an Electricity or Water invoice, detailing consumption and costs back-dated to maybe 2, 3 or even 4 years. The bills extends to 3 or more pages (and we have seen 8 pages), detailing “reverse of interim charges” over the period, which invariably results in a bill of hundreds of thousands of Rand and in some cases over R1million.

Sewage Charges Directly Relate to Water Consumption...but should they...??? Published by Ken Nunes on 20/08/2015

It has been well documented throughout the blog posts of First Look that there are two costs relating to water consumption in schools (although not only schools): 1. Water Charges - ±20.00 per KL including VAT 2. Sewage Charges - ±20.00 per KL including VAT

Questioning the Gift Horse… Published by Ken Nunes on 31/07/2015

We were told from a very young age …never look a gift horse in the mouth…it's a familiar phrase and one that is in our DNA. However, I am now reliably informed that behavioural change can influence between 15% and 30% of our energy consumption and I am having conflict with my DNA. Imagine the following scenario (true story in fact):

First Look - Creating Benchmarks from Historical Data Published by Ken Nunes on 27/07/2015

I have had the pleasure to speak with several school Principals and Bursars over the last week, introducing First Look as an information tool of electricity and water costs and how this can be beneficial to schools.

Estimating the cost of BASE WASTE… Published by Ken Nunes on 17/07/2015

For the purposes of Base Waste, we will focus exclusively on water, as we consider electricity consumption outside school hours may be better categorised under the heading of consumption, where efficiency and behavioural changes can be introduced… From the sample of schools presently being monitored (on First look and Real-time Monitoring), it would not be an outlandish claim to consider Base Waste at 10KL per day per school…real-time monitoring data certainly supports this estimate!!!

BASE WASTE Published by Ken Nunes on 16/07/2015

During an internal discussion yesterday (15th July 2015), analysing the real-time data being received from the various remote electricity and water measuring devices installed at schools by Suntricity, Hendry van Branden (CEO Suntricity), coined the term, BASE WASTE, relating to water and electricity being consumed, while no one is at the schools.

Specifics on electricity tariffs… Published by Ken Nunes on 09/07/2015

The article 2015/2016 Electricity and Water Tariff Increases of the 1st July, reported the general increases of electricity and water tariffs for the year 2015/2016. This article is a little more specific in an effort to underline the need for efficiency.

Quem não tem cão, caça com Gato Published by Ken Nunes on 08/07/2015

There's an an old Portuguese saying: Quem não tem cão, caça com Gato, meaning: If you don’t have a dog, hunt with a cat... In the absence of real-time monitoring data of electricity and water consumption, it is still possible to use the basic information available, together with good old fashion ingenuity, in order to minimally understand the electricity and water consumption of your school.

Why so much focus on Water - Explanation Requested Published by Ken Nunes on 07/07/2015

This was an explanation request asked by a friend after some days reading First Look Blog...

What a difference a day makes… Published by Ken Nunes on 06/07/2015

Efficiency is knowledge based. We need data to understand problems, and we need effective solutions, with a lot of persistence and collaboration, to resolve the problems.

A Question of Responsibility... Published by Ken Nunes on 05/07/2015

Most schools Administrators are aware that their electricity and water bills are too high or at least can be significantly reduced.

COJ's Online e-Services Published by Ken Nunes on 04/07/2015

I am always impressed how easy it is to have access to the monthly Electricity and Water invoices in Johannesburg, via the COJ’s excellent online platform COJ e-Services.

Locating underground water mains Published by Ken Nunes on 03/07/2015

The importance of knowing the layout of underground water mains cannot be overstated. This together with ensuring that each toilet facility has a fully functioning “shut-off value” (stop cock), must be part of the overall strategy of reducing water consumption in schools.

Reference: A qualitative analysis of facilities maintenance Published by Ken Nunes on 02/07/2015

A qualitative analysis of facilities maintenance — a school governance function in South Africa by by M I Xaba - School of Education Sciences

2015/2016 Electricity and Water Tariff Increases Published by Ken Nunes on 01/07/2015

The 2015/2016 Electricity and Water tariff increases comes into effect as of today - 1st July 2015. In Johannesburg, Electricity tariffs will increase by 12.19% whilst Water and Sewage tariffs will rise by 14.00%. What does this mean to your school?

Worst Design Ever Award... Published by Ken Nunes on 30/06/2015

And the award for Worst Design Ever goes to: The Drip Tray Flush (see photo) common in most boys’ urinals in South Africa. The design principle is simple and works something like this...

Understanding Electricity and Water Invoices Published by Ken Nunes on 29/06/2015

Understanding your Electricity and Water invoices is important and another of the reasons First Look was developed. An initial glance at the monthly invoices we receive from the Service Provider (ESKOM and Municipality) can be quite daunting. This article is intended as a simple guide to Members of a school’s SGB, which we trust brings some clarity and demystify the content of the bills.

Home Page - Explanation Requested Published by Ken Nunes on 28/06/2015

We have been requested to explain what the graphs on the First Look hope page represents. It’s a fair point…

An Obsession with Water Consumption Published by Ken Nunes on 27/06/2015

From the KPI’s on the home page of First Look, it is relatively easy to verify that water bills are a greater burden to schools, costing some in excess of R50 000 each month, whilst electricity varies between R10 000 and R20 000. Closer investigation illustrates the Average consumption of Electricity per day per learner is less than 1 kWh per day per learner, while water is more than 90 Litres per day per learner.

WATER: Waste versus Efficiency Published by Ken Nunes on 26/06/2015

“The key to water efficiency is reducing waste, not restricting use.” . This is the first statement declared by the UK’s Not for Profit Organisation Water Wise

KPI - Consumption per Learner Published by Ken Nunes on 25/06/2015

Consumption per learner should be a relatively easy KPI to establish, although some care needs to be taken. Utility Invoices indicate the consumption being billed for Electricity (in kWh) and Water (in KL). The tendency would therefore be to use the total consumption value for the year and divide this by the number of learners to give Consumption per Learner. This, in principle would be correct. First Look has, however consider that learners are only at school approximately 200 days a year.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) Published by Ken Nunes on 24/06/2015

The saying “the devil is in the detail” certainly helps us understand what First Look is all about. Most of us, when we receive our Utility Bill (electricity or water), tend to do one thing…and one thing only: Look at the total charge for the month. If the value is more or less within the ballpark of normal, we feel a sense of relief and pay. The actual consumption (in kWh or KL) barely gets a glance; nor the number of days invoice relates to; cost per kWh, or KL, or the fact that 50% of the water bill considers Sanitation, etc, etc. The simple truth is: it’s all about the money.

An Introduction to FirstLook™ Published by Ken Nunes on 23/06/2015

For schools to be able to understand how their electricity and water consumption compare with schools of similar characteristics, Suntricity has created the online application FirstLook™. The application analyses schools utility invoices (Electricity and Water) tracking costs and consumption over a minimum period of three years. Key Performance Indicators then illustrates the consumption (in kWh, KL and Rand) clearly indicating historical consumption and costs. First Look is accessible online by authorised representatives and SGB Members of schools.

Welcome to First Look... Published by Ken Nunes on 22/06/2015

We welcome everyone to the online application First Look, an initiative by Suntricity aimed primarily at schools in South Africa. Please do not hesitate to us at: