Landlords risk jail, Sh1 million fine as water heating rules take effect

Solar panels on a roof.
Solar panels on a roof. Solar water heaters will help lower electricity demand. PHOTO/FILE
Property owners who have failed to install solar water heaters on buildings whose occupants use more than 100 litres of hot water a day risk tough sanctions as a five year grace period expires.

The stringent regulations that came to force in May 2012 gave owners of existing buildings up to May 2017 to install the solar water heating systems. The rules require new buildings to be fitted before use.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) says it has noted that property developers are putting up new buildings without incorporating solar water heaters and it will now conduct nationwide property audit to establish premises that are not compliant.

“Beginning May, all commercial buildings will be required to install solar water heaters as part of plans to green the Kenyan economy,” ERC acting director general Robert Pavez Oimeke told an energy forum in Nairobi last month.

Failure to comply with the new regulations will attract a fine of Sh1 million or a jail term of one year, ERC said in a legal notice dated April 4, 2012.

“A person who breaches this law commits an offense and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both,” the notice said.

According to ERC, new buildings, alterations or extensions must now be designed to incorporate solar water heating systems.

In addition to the installation of solar panels, property owners will be required to conduct energy audits every three years and they must implement at least half of the audit recommendations within three years.

Boarding schools, universities, hospitals and children homes will also be required to incorporate solar systems within their premises.

ERC has been sensitising owners of existing buildings to have the systems in place before next month.

Property owners have, however, cited high costs of the kits as a hindrance to increased uptake. Solar water heaters cost Sh125,000 to Sh150,000 for a residential unit and Sh600,000 to Sh2 million for a commercial building.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the latest issue of Construction Business Review. Flip through the pages of the paper real-time or download a copy to read offline. Sign up for a FREE subscription to get the paper delivered to your inbox every month.