Solar Hot Water
Solar Power is a great long-term investment for your household.
If you are wondering if your home is a good candidate, you can check this map showing photovoltaic potential, just click on the Solar Potential button below. Generally speaking, if you live in an area that receives more than 1000 kWh/kW you are an excellent candidate.
Certainly there are other factors aside from geographical solar potential that dictate whether your site is a good candidate for solar panels. In a round about way, in order to do a self assessment on whether your site is a good candidate – consider shading from trees on your property, shading from your neighbours and available roof space for southern orientation. If your site doesn’t have a lot of shading on your southern facing roof, you are in good shape and should consider installing solar panels.
From a carbon footprint perspective, solar panels are a wise investment – especially if you live in a province that produces electricity through coal generation such as Alberta.
Similar to the section on solar power, the solar potential of your geographical area and shading on your south facing access and a roundabout assessment on whether your house is a good candidate for solar hot water.
Though contrary to the economics of solar photovoltaic’s - the economics of solar hot water are dictated by the price of natural gas, which is normally the source of energy that we use for hot water. As a result of the current low cost in natural gas, the economics of solar hot water make it hard to justify the investment.
Certainly one can speculate that the price of natural gas will continue to rise in the coming years and that could justify the investment economically. Though another factor in the Canadian climate is that the bulk of our yearly sunlight shines in the summer, and less so in the winter when hot water for showers is more in demand.
From a carbon footprint perspective, solar hot water is a good candidate, and as compared to solar electricity, it can be more or less of a carbon footprint reducer (depending on how your region generates electricity).
The advantage of geothermal is that it is a constant source of energy all hours of the day, not contingent on the cycle of the sun or the wind speed. Designed right, geothermal can deliver both heating and cooling – which make the economics and carbon footprint offset of geothermal slightly more complicated to calculate; geothermal can offset both heating (natural gas equivalent & electricity for the pumps) and cooling (airconditioning electricity demand equivalent).
There is a general misconception in Alberta about the merits of geothermal - in that more often than not geothermal is thought of as a system that is overly complicated and prone to breakdowns. This is not true. Certainly if the system isn't property commissioned (specifically referring to flushing of the system) then it will not work properly and will have performance issues. Geothermal systems do require maintenance (in the same way as your furnace requires maintenance) and should not be thought of as too onerous of a maintenance regime.
There are many different geothermal applications; it isn't always limited to installing the geothermal loop kilometers into the ground (which tends to be the more pricey option). Self assessments of the geothermal potential of your home are more difficult to do on your own - though a good start is to click on the link below.
Generally speaking, residential size geothermal systems can be an attractive option for a renewable investment from an economic perspective - though this is contingent on many different factors; primarily the cost of natural gas the cost of electricity.
If it feels as though it is consistantly quite windy on your property then you may want to consider wind power as a long-term investment in renewable energy.
The windspeed around your home should be, more often than not, over 20 km/h; though it should be understood that the measure of windspeed is not to be taken at ground level but rather a few meters above ground level where the wind turbine would be located.
Another round about way to determine if your wind speed is sufficient to justify a wind power investment is if you have a flag mounted in your backyard - if the flag is consistantly flying steady in the wind for a portion of the day then your site may be a good candidate.
If you believe your site is a good candidate for wind power and would like to do some more digging for some imperical data - please click on the link below and find out how good your area actually is; if you find that your site would acheive above 400W/m2 then your home is most definitely a good candidate for wind power.
As long as your site has an adequate amount of consistant wind speed, wind power is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint – especially if you live in a province that produces electricity through coal generation such as Alberta. Though more often than not, wind power systems are complemented with solar power systems due to the inconsistancy of high speed wind.
Many homeowners want to invest in renewable energy though are unsure what the most cost effective options are for their home. Renewable energy is an excellent way for home owners to put hard earned money into a reliable investment that also helps the environment.
The sections below highlight some of the options available to you and provide a high level overview of the environmental and economical impact on residential renewable energy investments.