This 'condom' for your geyser – invented in the Eastern Cape – can make it 27% more efficient
A bizarre-looking contraption for your geyser – closely resembling a condom – can make it 27% more efficient, according to its inventor, a young Eastern Cape entrepreneur.
Called the Hot Spot, the "geyser condom" was designed by Eastern Cape based company AET Africa, founded by 36-year-old Sandiswa Qayi. The idea for the product came from her personal need to save money on heating costs.
“I was one of those people that would switch the geyser on and off trying to save electricity. I was driving with my business partners back from a meeting... I phoned my helper to tell her to switch on the geyser in the afternoon because I wanted to shower when I got home because it would take an hour and a half to heat up. They overheard the conversation and then the debate started about how we could make it heat faster,” said Qayi.
A business graduate who did her Master's degree in rural economic development, she founded AET - which focusses on energy efficiency products - six years ago.
Eventually, working with her team, she created the Hot Spot.
While it may look like a flimsy piece of flaccid plastic, AET claims it can make your geyser 27% more efficient for just R350*.
“The very first person that saw it said ‘oh it looks like a condom’,” said Qayi.
“I try to find other ways of describing it to other people, but really that’s the simplest way of helping people visualising it – a condom for your element. We prefer to say it's a sock for your element.”
The Hot Spot creates a thermosiphon system. Because of its long trunk-like shape, as soon as water is heated, it flows to the top of the system — which is where your tap is. Because there's more space between the molecules, a volume of hot water has fewer molecules in it and weighs a little bit less than the same volume of cold water. So, as hot water is more dense than cold, it stays there.
The Hot Spot can heat 50 litres of water to 50 degrees Celsius in 30 minutes.
"We hope to improve energy efficiency to help South Africans who cannot afford to have hot water due to the high costs associated with operating an electric geyser," said Qayi
Eskom estimates there are over 5.4 million electric geysers in South Africa, contributing significantly to the crucial evening peak demand.
Qayi received financial assistance from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to commercialise the Hot Spot.
Her company also launched another innovative product, called the Heat Raider. It recycles waste heat from refrigeration and cooling systems to heat geysers for businesses like supermarkets, abattoirs, hospitals, hostels, hotels, or anyone with a hard-working refrigeration unit who also requires hot water.
“One of my business partners got the idea when he burnt his hand fixing a refrigerator. He thought ‘why we can’t harness this energy’,” said Qayi.
A medium-sized supermarket has an average of three 200 litre geysers, each using 3.5Kw elements. For every 1Kw of refrigeration cooling, i.e. in a cold room, there is 1.4Kw of heat being expelled by the outdoor condensing unit.
After testing a prototype at the ELIDZ Science and Technology Park, in East London, AET Africa found the Heat Raider reduced power consumption, efficiency, and effectiveness of cooling systems by 25%, while it cut the electricity bill by 20% to 27%.
AET Africa was recently a winner in an entrepreneurship competition organised by TV channel VIA (DStv channel 147). Six small to medium-sized businesses each won marketing airtime and a TV commercial – worth more than R3 million in total.