Government has outlawed the fitting of new electric geysers, but existing geysers can continue to be used. Owners of electric geysers are encouraged to switch to solar, while new solar geysers can have an electric back-up, although that must be set to operate outside peak demand periods.
The ban was announced by Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi in regulations gazetted last Friday.
Energy experts have noted that heating water in geysers absorbs 40 percent of electricity used by an average home and that Zimbabwe has over 250 000 electric geysers.
The regulations banning the use of new electric water heaters, dubbed the Electricity (Solar Water Heating) Regulations, are contained in Statutory Instrument 235 of 2019.
They were promulgated in consultation with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) in terms of section 65 (q) of the Electricity Act. The banning of new electrical geysers is part of Government efforts to reduce demand for electricity and promote the use of renewable sources of energy.
"These regulations are meant to regulate the installation, licensing, operation, repair, maintenance, retrofit and upgrade of solar water heating systems for the production of sanitary hot water to save electricity," reads section 2 of the regulations.
The regulations shall apply to all property developers, architects, engineers and users of electricity and users of hot water, but will not apply to existing premises with electrical geysers.
Exemptions allowing new electric geysers are possible, but have to be approved by Zera. There are four grounds for exemption: premises with technical limitations; premises supplied with hot water from a co-generation plant in or next to the premises; premises using electricity generated from renewable energy and the excess is used to heat water as a dump load; and such other premises as the authority may determine.
Zera has to process applications in 30 days and give reasons if it turns the request down. Back-up water heating systems may be installed to cater for when there is extended cloud cover or a breakdown.
"The back-up water heater systems that utilise traditional fuels, including electricity, gas, or similar fuels, may be separately installed in buildings or be integrated into the solar heating system to ensure that there is an adequate supply of hot water at all times, especially during periods of extended cloud cover," reads the regulations.
"The conventional back-up system shall be designed to supplement a solar water heating system by operating when absolutely necessary to supply the energy deficit from solar collectors due to adverse weather conditions or solar water heating system defects.
"All geysers with an electricity back-up to be inhibited from using electricity during peak hours."
And the regulations make it clear that as before, all geysers have to conform to local authority by-laws.
Those installing solar water heaters now have to be more professional and issue an installation certificate giving the date of installation, capacity of the solar water heating system, details of the installer and warranty for the premises. Solar geysers will help the country to save 300MW a year.