SOS – Switch Off Something

SOS – Switch Off Something!

Keeping one’s utility bill low is a constant challenge in today’s world. Imagine managing the water and electricity usage at a massive complex like SUNCOAST? Who better then, to advise the ‘normal’ consumer on how to reduce energy usage in home and office? We chat to John van Zyl, Suncoast Complex Services Maintenance Manager…

SOS – SWITCH OFF SOMETHING! This ethos for energy-saving – which is now a way of life for staff at Suncoast Casino, Hotels & Entertainment, is one that Suncoast Complex Services Maintenance Manager, John van Zyl, feels strongly about.

“We all need to do our bit to conserve energy and be kind to the environment, and this is one of the easiest habits to adopt at home and/or at the office, to make a difference,” he says.
“SUNCOAST introduced the ‘SOS – Switch Off Something’ programme, which encourages staff to switch off all non-essential electrical appliances/equipment or lighting when they leave their offices or areas of work at the end of the day. Electricity savings have been enormous,” Van Zyl explains. “Any new electronic equipment purchased is of the latest technology and energy-saving type.”

Kitchen appliances are a huge energy-guzzler, Van Zyl says, sharing useful advice from the South African Board of Standards and the Southern Africa Association for Energy Efficiency (see and for more).

For those considering purchasing new appliances Van Zyl recommends buying items “that work off gas rather than electricity, or are the latest technology equipment carrying an SABS or EU rating. Remember tumble-dryers are one of the most energy-inefficient appliances in your home!”

In the SUNCOAST kitchens, staff members are encouraged to use gas appliances over electrical ones and to switch off all appliances that are not in use.

Air-conditioning and heating is the biggest energy-user in the complex, Van Zyl says. “We have a Building Energy Management System that controls the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) plant to ensure it functions as efficiently as possible, and at its optimum, to reduce energy consumption. We keep up-to-date with the latest technology to ensure any new equipment is energy-efficient.
“There are similar systems on a much smaller scale that can be installed in homes to regulate and monitor energy use,” he adds.

The other notorious energy-user is the domestic geyser. “Although a heat pump is a bit more expensive, it can be a consumer-friendly alternative to a geyser,” Van Zyl suggests. “A solar panel system is another option. Wrapping the geyser up in a geyser blanket also assists with keeping the hot water warmer for longer. One could also install a timer on the geyser electrical supply to switch the geyser on and off, to lower electricity consumption.”

Changing or installing energy-efficient LED lighting is another relatively easy change to make in the home, Van Zyl says.

“Technology has evolved immensely and there is a wide range of different lighting options available to choose from. Beware, though, of cheap imports,” he warns, “rather pay a bit more and buy well-known brands which have been proven.”

SUNCOAST and the Tsogo Sun group embarked on a major project some years ago “to implement LED lighting throughout the casino, hotel, tenants and externally around the complex and parking areas,” Van Zyl explains. “It has been very successful and contributed enormously towards our overall energy savings.”

When it comes to reducing water consumption Van Zyl recommends installing a dual-flush system in a toilet cistern or simply placing a brick in the cistern which also assists in saving water. “The dual-flush system provides an option for two-stage flushing, placing a brick inside the cistern maintains a higher-water level but uses less water when flushing.

“SUNCOAST uses a dual-flush system in all toilets in the complex, the taps are the cut-off type taps and water-saving shower heads have been installed in the hotel.”

Energy-saving takes place around the exterior of SUNCOAST too. “We are in the process of implementing the Bokashi Bran System in our garden area – which should be up and running by the end of July this year,” Van Zyl explains.

“The system converts all wet waste into compost, which can then be used in the gardens and on the lawns. There has been huge success with the programme at our sister properties Silverstar and Gold Reef City Casinos, where they have managed to reduce their wet waste landfill to zero! We also have a ‘mulching’ programme where all leaves and grass off-cuts are spread onto our flower-beds to reduce water-evaporation after watering has taken place.”

SUNCOAST has a comprehensive recycling programme in place with its current Waste Service Provider, where all waste (including from the hotel) is sorted into different categories and then recycled or disposed of.

Van Zyl emphasizes the importance of proper recycling. “The various types of waste must be kept separate in different containers. Don’t mix with ‘wet waste (left-over food etc)’ as once recyclables are ‘soiled’ they cannot be used for recycling and have to be disposed of as general waste and sent to the landfill site.”

Reducing energy-usage around the house is literally as easy as a click of the switch, Van Zyl says, who admits that his family is “fanatical at home about switching off appliances or lights when not needed or being used. Every bit helps!”


Influenced by the Art Deco style of Miami South Beach, SUNCOAST Casino, Hotels & Entertainment is Durban’s most loved entertainment destination. It boasts an unparalleled atmosphere from its location on Durban’s stretch of palm-lined beaches known as the Golden Mile and is within walking distance of the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium.

SUNCOAST is an integral part of the Durban entertainment scene and is currently undergoing an expansive refurbishment that will see the expansion of the gaming floor with 1,850 slot machines, 71 gaming tables, opening of a number of new restaurants, The Barnyard Theatre as well as the launch of The Suncoast Globe, a multi-purpose eventing venue.  The jewel in the Suncoast crown is the new Salon Privé situated on the upper level with 180-degree sea views with its opulent Art Deco design creating a world-class gaming experience.

With a choice of everything from the finest cuisine, to fast food and laid back coffee spots, Suncoast offers Durban dining for every taste. Catch all the latest blockbuster movies on the big screen at Suncoast Cinecentre with eight movie theatres to choose from and the largest 3D screen in KZN, the Supernova. There is more great family entertainment on offer at The Magic Company where the kids and young at heart can enjoy hours of fun with modern and classic arcade games.

Attached to the SUNCOAST complex is the luxurious Suncoast Towers and SunSquare Suncoast hotels which offer superior accommodation for the discerning leisure and business traveler.  A stay at the hotel would not be complete without a signature treatment at the Balinese-style spa located on the 9th floor. The stylish Jeera Restaurant located in the hotel is also a must for a culinary experience never to be forgotten.

SUNCOAST Casino, Hotels & Entertainment is owned by Tsogo Sun Gaming.


Tsogo Sun Gaming proudly supports the National Responsible Gambling Programme. Winners know when to stop. Only persons 18 years and older are permitted to gamble. National problem gambling counselling toll-free helpline 0800 006 008. Tsogo Sun Gaming casinos are licensed casinos.

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