The eThekwini Municipality has embarked on broad ranging energy efficiency program, which includes sustainable energy pilots in different technologies and applications throughout the city. The Residential Cooking Energy Efficiency Pilot is part of the broader program, and aims to investigate alternative options to paraffin and electricity used in households for cooking purposes.
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In July 2011, Natural Balance was contracted to manage the roll-out of 3500 Wonderbags™ in the eThekwini Municipal Area (EMA). The Wonderbag™ is a heat-retention/insulation cooker, which can save up to 0.5 tonnes of carbon per year if it is used 2 or 3 times a week. The roll-out of the Wonderbag™ in the EMA is also part of a broader programmatic (PoA) CDM project being registered by the UNFCCC, and is one of the first large scale roll-outs in Africa. The resultant revenue will ensure the project’s commercial sustainability by subsidising the price at which the bags are sold. The Wonderbag™ works through using an already heated pot’s own heat and slowly cooking food within the polystyrene ball-filled bag, thereby saving electricity.
Target households generally use a combination of electricity and paraffin for cooking. Benefits that are being observed from households participating in the pilot include; saving money for energy costs, improved health through reduced smoke inhalation, improved safety through less open flame and significant time savings, where people do not need to stand over an open flame.
A monitoring program, which includes door to door interviews, has already begun to assess the continued use of the technology and the overall energy savings that are achieved. If the expected savings are achieved a more extensive roll-out with similar technology will be considered.