Living efficiently in Upper Kingsclear

This home owner has had energy efficiency and conservation in mind since building their home in 1993. It was one of the first R2000 homes in the area, and the family living in it is very conscious about energy use. They are always looking for ways to lower their reliance on grid electricity. They had a very efficient (82%) wood stove installed in February 2010, which greatly reduces their use of baseboard electric heating. They are very happy with the stove’s use and heat produced.

In June 2010, they had a solar hot water system installed, to reduce their use of electricity and increase their use of renewable energy – one of the owners is a climate change consultant and presenter, and so wanted to ‘walk the talk.’ To date, the system has worked very well. Thermometers were installed on the system, to give the owner a good idea of how much heat the solar collectors are producing (they hope to have a more advanced monitoring system installed in the future). They were so impressed with the amount of heat produced that they shut off electric power to the hot water system, and relied solely on the solar hot water system until September – having 4 months of hot water purely from the sun!

The owners are also considering further additions to their home to make it still more renewable and efficient. They plan to add a sun porch (for enhanced passive solar heating) and a root cellar (to better store the vegetables from their garden) as part of a future addition. They are also considering adding a rainwater collection system, to reduce their well water use for certain applications (watering garden, washing cars, etc.).

Solar hot water system
Wood stove

Since our initial meeting, the owners have added the sun porch for passive solar heating, and the root cellar which has the same temperature as their fridge, enabling them to keep their vegetables stored throughout the winter. Additionally, they now have five 40 gallon rain barrels, one under each of their downspouts with taps and hoses attached to each. They give the owners all the water they need for their vegetable garden, gravity fed as the garden is below the house. They hope to add more this year, to give them more of a reserve.

Rain barrel

They have also purchased a plug-in hybrid car – Chevy Volt! The car has a motor as well as a large battery. The battery has an 85km range, it will run first with full electric until the battery is empty, then it will switch to the motor. This car is perfect for the owners as it has enough battery storage for them to drive into town and back without the car switching to the motor. The owners noticed when comparing costs from their last year with the old car, and first year with the hybrid car, their fuel costs went down by more than half.