Renewables NB

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Geothermal in Little Shemogue

A vertical-style geothermal heat pump was installed when the house was built, in 1993. At the time, the cost of the unit was approximately $4000 dollars while the drilling of a second well (called the “return well”) was an additional $3000 dollars. The system served both as a source of heat in the cooler months and acted as air conditioning in the summer.

In 2008, the initial heat pump was replaced by a newer model because it was a challenge for the owners to find skilled technicians who knew how to service the older heat pump. In order to qualify for funding, an “energy efficiency test” had to be done before and after installation. This test was paid for by the provincial government. The overall cost of the unit and its installation was roughly $7000 dollars. After the “energy efficiency test” and the installation of the geothermal unit, however, the federal government provided $5000 dollars in funding towards the system.

Little Shemogue Geothermal

The heat pump itself is approximately 4 feet high, 3 feet wide, 3 feet deep and weighs around 300 pounds. The house in which it heats and cools is roughly 2000 square feet and it has a lot of windows, which are not thermally-efficient. With the assistance of an air tight stove, however, the price to heat the home is relatively cheap, even in the colder months. From December to March, it costs roughly $5/day to heat the home and in the months of November, April and May, the cost is significantly lower at only $3/day.

The owners report that they are relatively happy with their geothermal heating system. They report having very few complications with it since its most recent installation, but advise that anyone choosing to heat their home with geothermal should have a secondary source of heat as well, such as a wood-stove.

Geothermal in Sackville

7-8 ft trenches dug in preparation to lay down PVC tubing.

7-8 ft trenches dug in preparation to lay down PVC tubing.

The owners installed a 5-ton geothermal system with horizontal tubing in 2007 when the two oil furnaces heating their large, older home were reaching the end of their lifespan. At that time, there were federal and provincial rebates available for homeowners who were installing geothermal systems. This reduced the overall cost of the installation to roughly $12 000.

The owners opted for a horizontal geothermal field instead of a vertical field because it was both cheaper and their yard was spacious enough to fit the tubing needed for a 5-ton system. The installers dug trenches 7-8 feet deep in the yard, temporarily resulting in large mounds covering the lawn. They laid down over 500 feet of trench and 2000 feet of 2-inch PVC tubing. This is a closed system, and so the installers used propylene glycol (a much less toxic antifreeze solution than ethylene glycol).

The geothermal heat exchanger (left) and the plenum (right), as well as some duct work.

The geothermal heat exchanger (left) and the plenum (right), as well as some duct work.

Prior to installing the geothermal system, the owners underwent an energy audit to see where they could improve the energy efficiency in their home. They’d upgraded the insulation when they moved in, and after the audit they sealed leaks around the windows and in the stone-foundation basement. With several relatively simple modifications, the house’s energy score rose from about 50 to 74. The system was able to be tied into the existing ductwork, saving money and time spent on the conversion to geothermal.

The coolant in the pipes is warmed up by the earth and is pumped into the heat exchanger in the basement, warming the air in the plenum and pre-heating the water pumped into the electric water heater. The condensation formed inside the heat exchanger as a result of the warm air coming into contact with cooled pipes is drained via a pipe at the bottom of the heat exchanger unit. The water is drained into a sump, where a pump will remove excess if necessary.

Coolant pump controlling the flow of the coolant, propylene glycol, through the buried PVC pipes.

Coolant pump controlling the flow of the coolant, propylene glycol, through the buried PVC pipes.

The owners are very happy with their geothermal system and report that it keeps the house at a very comfortable temperature in the winter. Each morning, the pre-programmed thermostat gradually raises the house temperature so not to trigger the auxiliary heater. In the summer, the system functions as an air conditioner. They estimate that they were spending $3 700 per year to heat their home, and that they would now be paying over $4 000 per year with increases in fuel prices. The system has paid for itself in about 4.5 years.

The owners have encountered very few issues with the system; one winter they noticed that the auxiliary electric heater kept turning on. The auxiliary heater should only turn on if the geothermal system cannot meet the temperature target set on the thermostat; ordinarily, this was never needed. Upon inspection, it was found that the pump that circulates the water in the heat exchanger had broken down. The replacement parts took 3-4 weeks to arrive, but there have not been any problems since then.

FHP (Florida Heat Pumps) heat exchanger.

FHP (Florida Heat Pumps) heat exchanger.

Geothermal condensation drain to sump

Geothermal condensation drain to sump

Solar Panels on Roof, Sackville, NB

Twenty-four solar panels were installed on April 2013 but were only tied to the grid (net metered) in June 2013. The potential output of this system is 6200 watts. Since the system is net metered, NB Power required the owners to have a phone line available with an exterior phone jack. Every week, NB Power dialed in during the night to upload data. NB Power has since installed a different meter with a cell phone connection  thus the need for an exterior phone jack was eliminated and the nighttime calls have ended.

Inverter connected to Electrical Panel

Inverter connected to Electrical Panel

Solar Meter

Solar Meter

From June 2013 to December 2013 all of their electrical needs were provided for from the PV panels. December 2013 snow and ice storms effectively covered the panels and drastically reduced the electricity being produced. The owners stressed the importance of keeping the panels free of ice and snow. With the return of the sun they expect that by April 2014 they will start accumulating credits with NB Power for surplus power produced from the panels. Credits can be used during the next winter when the sun is weaker and when they need to rely more on the grid for their electrical needs.  NB Power zeros out the credits in March. The credits owed to the customers don’t include HST but NB Power is required to charge tax when the owners purchase electricity.


Solar Panels

Solar Panels

The owners also have a heat pump, and a drain water heat recovery system. They also plan to install a domestic solar hot water system. A necessary step for the owners as they want to get approved as a net zero home under the Efficiency NB  program.



What inspired the owners was an efficiency NB workshop about energy efficient home construction. During the workshop the presenter suggested that people could arrange financing through their mortgage. This is how the owners financed the panels. They consider this to be a worthwhile investment. They also recommend placing the inverter in an accessible location because the unit provides digital feedback on how much energy is being produced. Checking the panel readings has proven to be a very satisfying experience for them.



Let’s Talk Solar


Port Elgin


Manure & Food Waste in St. André

The Laforge Holstein plant is a biomass system set on 1000 acres of land that uses organic materials such as potato peels, fries, pizza dough and tomato sauce, mixed with manure and chicken grease residue for biodigestion (anaerobic decomposition).

The Biodigester!

The system has two mixing tanks that hold the organic material, Tank 1 is used as an energy source and Tank 2 is used as a protein source. These tanks are linked to the biodigester using a regular feeding schedule run by a computer program that is linked to all the machinery.

Computer program used to measure and monitor all biodigestion activity

The ideal pumping ratio of organic material or “feed” to capture gas and minimize wastage is 4 m³ every hour for Tank 1 and 8 m³ every 2 hours for Tank 2. The biodigester has an agitator to encourage movement of materials and the creation of gas. The leftover liquid from the biodigester seeps into a holding tank or “lagoon” which is later used as fertilizer.

Through the digestion process methane is released by bacteria and captured. The gas is then piped to the generator where it is burned for electricity generation.

Engine receiving methane from digester to contain it as energy

This installation makes economic sense because the biomass is obtained free of charge. In the case of McCain’s, the company also saves money in transportation costs for their waste.

At the same time, the dairy cows on the farm provide 2,200L of milk per day, which is sold, to the Northumberland and Baxter dairy farms. The cow manure is used to speed up the decomposition process in the biodigester tank due to the presence of bacteria.

They expect the system to pay for itself in 10 years.


Ecoparc at the Cultural and Sport Centre in Cormier Village

The Ecoparc includes a nine- acre Acadian forest woodlot along the Kouchibouguac(Kagibougouet) River. In partnership with Vision H2O and with the assistance of a Roland Chiasson, a biologist a naturalist, educational trails have been established.

Plans call for a minimum two- acre sustainable landscaped and demonstration area.

Included will be an organic vegetable garden, native plant and shrubs, sustainable water management demonstration to mention a few of our plans.

This project has been two years in the planning.  The residents in Cormier Village have been consulted in depth as well as many consultants in energy efficient construction and representatives of the other communities in our area.

The community centre will be like no other that exists. The building will be the centrepiece of a 12-acre Ecoparc aimed at providing recreational and learning opportunities for residents of Cormier Village, surrounding communities, the Province of New Brunswick and beyond. The long term aim of the new community centre is to provide a place for community activities while creating the basis for learning how to cope with the many environmental issues that face us, energy conservation, water management, the development of practical energy alternatives, and the general care and improvement of our local environment.

This nature centre is a 7,000 square-foot (650 meters squared) building with a passive solar design with most windows (double pane low-argon) facing south. The walls of the building are made of an insulated concrete with high R-values and a high thermal mass. The floor is a 4-inch (10 cm) floor slab and the ceiling is of a R-60 insulation. The ground-source heat pumps and the evacuated tubes use a 100-gallon hot tank and an auxiliary tank. Floors are heated with hydronic (water circulation) radiant floor slab heating and cooling divided into 7 zones. Eight 1.5-ton wall-mounted fan-coil units are used for heating and cooling. A two panel SolarSheet solar air heated is regulated by a fan motor and thermostat using electricity from a photo-voltaic panel. The building uses energy efficient fluorescent lighting and dimmable LED pot lights.

A REHAU energy monitoring and management system is used to determine what energy source would be most effective at any given time.

Ecoparc Community Centre Front Entrance

Beginning of Trails

Solar Hot Water Collectors

Solar Wall from the Outside

Solar Wall, from the Inside



Passive Solar Home with Biomass Heating in Jemseg

This passive solar, 2500 square foot home is located on a scenic, south facing slope. It is located on five acres of water front property, facing the St. John River and a lake. The home has lots of natural light, with each room receiving direct natural light at some point in the year.


Though it gets too hot in the late summer at times, which is why they have added curtains to some of the south facing windows, they find it very comfortable the rest of the year. They have put their bedroom in the basement, which is comfortable year round. They also have Read more…

Geothermal Heat Pump & Fireplace Insert in Cornhill

The family who enjoys this geothermal heating system decided to use renewable earth energy back in 1986. Their experience since then has proven the reliability and comfort afforded by geothermal heat pumps. When their original pump in required replacement in 2010, there was no question of whether they would install geothermal again or not. The performance of the geothermal heat pump in their home also led to the installation of a large geothermal heating system on their farm.

Read more…

Geothermal Heat Pump in Petitcodiac

A testament to the quality and durability of heat pumps. This 20-year old open-loop geothermal heat pump has provided consistent heat without any major problems during its lifetime. Four employees enjoy the warm in-floor radiant (hydronic) heating throughout the heating season. The 3200 ft² (300 m²) floors are heated to 22 °C (72 F) for most of the winter by water from a well, which is heated by surrounding rock beneath the surface, and then circulated through ten in-floor radiant heat loops, and discharged into another well. Although the store doors are opened and closed all day long, which allows for plenty of cold air to enter, the warm floors provide quality heat and comfort. Read more…

9kW and 500W Photovoltaic system in Mount Carleton

mount-carleton7-21-10-0012Mount Carleton Provincial Park has relied upon propane and diesel fuel to provide power to its facility, as it is too far from the electricity grid. However, in recent years, the price of these fuels has been steadily rising, leading to increasing costs for the park. As a way to simultaneously reduce long-term energy costs and meet environmental sustainability goals, the Park has decided to invest in solar energy. Read more…

Passive Solar Home with Air-to-Air Heat Pump in Fredericton

South facing passive solar home

This passive solar house is situated in a residential area and blends into the surrounding mixed forest environment being adjacent to a city woodlot.

The high insulation levels of ICF (insulated concrete form) construction, R-30 to R-50, are key to the passive solar heating. The generating element of the passive solar heat is the 2 storey south wall of 80% glass made up of EnergyStar rated high performance windows with triple glazing. Read more…

Solar Wall Hot Air Circulation in the City of Saint John


SolarWall on bus parking bay’s west end

The solar wall is located on the south side of 3-1/2 acre, 120,000 ft² building which serves as the City of Saint John’s Transit Centre bus garage or bus barn. Along with several other energy saving and environmentally sustainable features this building has earned a LEED Silver standard and has received several environmental awards. Read more…