Presented by LookSee

Why homeowners need to act on climate change – and the money they’ll save

 ·20 May 2024

Climate change may rank low on the average South African’s list of concerns, but according to Standard Bank’s Head of Climate Solutioning for Personal and Private Banking Clive Spitz, households are already being affected.

“We may not realise it, but climate change is having a direct impact on our families and particularly our homes,” said Spitz.

“Access to electricity and clean drinking water has often been limited, yet our utility bills are increasing. Households have had to deal with property damage brought on by extreme weather events, and the same is true for municipal infrastructure.”

“And, of course, we’re all feeling the effects of rising inflation, food prices and transport costs,” he explained.

While some may feel that this is a problem for world leaders and scientists to deal with, Spitz believes it’s becoming critical for households to take steps to protect themselves and their homes from the effects of climate change.

It’s not all bad news, however, as most of these protective measures will help families save money on their monthly costs.

What you need to know about climate change

According to the United Nations, the climate crisis is the biggest threat to our survival as a species, with global temperatures rising due to greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity.

Notably, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared 2023 the hottest year on record since global records began in 1850, with the annual average global temperature approaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

More recently, the WMO announced that April 2024 was the hottest April on record and approximately 1.58 degrees Celsius warmer than the April average for the pre-industrialised period.

This is already 0.08 degrees warmer than the 1.5-degree temperature increase limit targeted by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The WMO has also stated that Africa suffers disproportionately from the impact of climate change and that the rate of the continent’s temperature increase has accelerated in recent decades, with weather- and climate-related hazards becoming more severe.

The impact on South Africa

Against this backdrop, it’s particularly worrying that the USAID South Africa Climate Change profile shows that our national average temperature has increased twice as fast as global temperatures since 1990.

It’s no surprise, then, that South Africa has been experiencing increasing numbers of extreme weather events.

Ranging from droughts that saw the Western Cape and Eastern Cape come close to hitting ‘Day Zero’, to severe flooding across the country with several regions classified as disaster areas, these natural disasters are increasingly being seen as man-made incidents.

“Every province has experienced an extreme weather event in recent years, even if it hasn’t resulted in government declaring a disaster area. Just think of the widespread fires, fierce winds, major storms or hail that have impacted your region.”

“These types of events are expected to become more frequent and potentially more extreme in the months and years to come,” highlighted Spitz.

Even though Sub-Saharan Africa has emitted the least globally, it is the region that will suffer the most. This is mainly due to a lack of resilience to climate change.

Protecting your home

South Africans need only look at the country’s ongoing power and water crises to know that early preparations to mitigate the impact of a nationwide issue are critical.

There are two ways households should respond:

  1. Protect against extreme weather events.
  2. Improve their environmental footprint.

Spitz said families must consider emerging weather patterns in their region and take steps to ensure their properties will be able to deal with the impact.

The same is true when deciding where to live and picking a new home.

“Homeowners and household contents insurance are essential tools to protect your home from extreme weather events; however, the policies and updates need to be closely read to understand what type of damage is covered and what is not.”

“You should also pay attention to any home maintenance and security requirements contained in the policy, as failure to meet these expectations could result in insurance claims being rejected.”

He added that households must also consider ways to reduce their family’s electricity and water consumption and consider implementing backup systems such as solar power and water tanks to protect against the impact of climate change.

“These efforts don’t just benefit the environment; they protect your family’s access to water and electricity, bring down your monthly utility bills, and have the potential to help you save a significant amount of money.”

How Standard Bank can help

“Standard Bank recognises the threat of climate change and is committed to reducing its emissions and helping its customers do the same,” said Spitz.

Its Personal and Private Banking division has made significant efforts to help households adopt sustainable choices that protect themselves, their families, and the environment – all while saving money.

Spitz pointed out that the LookSee home efficiency platform is an excellent example of this.

It provides educational resources and money-saving home solutions that help households move to solar and protect their water supply.

Standard Bank also offers affordable financial products that help South Africans embrace environmentally friendly and sustainable life choices.

This includes the Solar Loan, based on the government’s Energy Bounce Back Loan Guarantee Scheme, which offers families unprecedented interest rates of Prime +1% up to a maximum of Prime +2.5%.

Standard Bank has also put significant work into assisting new homeowners in moving to solar.

For example, customers who apply to Standard Bank for a home loan will be automatically assessed to see if they qualify for an additional 20% registration amount to be used for acceptable home improvements such as solar power installations.

Spitz explains that homeowners can move to solar in the existing home loans space with their access bonds, re-advances, and further loans.

With Standard Bank and LookSee, you don’t have to choose between saving money and being environmentally friendly – you can do both simultaneously.

Click here to learn more about LookSee’s Solar Loan.

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