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Archive for the 'Solar Energy' Category

October 27th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable. 

Choosing an energy-efficient upgrade to your home includes decisions of conscience and return on investment. This handy graphic illustrates some optional upgrades, the cost of installation and potential energy savings.

(Click on graphic to enlarge)

Home Solar Power Discounts – One Block Off the Grid

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to theDrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.


October 6th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable. 

Hot water demands the second largest amount of energy in our homes, after space heating, and it represents about 30 per cent of total energy use in our homes.

Solar hot water is smart and cost effective technology that can supplement up to 60 per cent of the water heating energy needs for a typical family of four. This comes from the fact that in Canada there is enough solar energy to generate an average of 2500 kWh of energy per year!

Domestic solar hot water systems are designed to last 20 to 40 years, minimize environmental impacts, and promote community economic development through the building of a sustainable industry economy. So you’ll be contributing to a healthier environment, and making a difference!

ecoENERGY retrofit program

On July 12, 2011 the federal government announced the return of the ecoENERGY Retrofit for Homes Program. The program provides homeowners with grants of up to $5,000 for making their homes more energy efficient. Included in the list of grants is $1,250 for installing a year-round solar hot water system. (Residents may also be eligible for regional grants. BC residents also apply for the $500 grant for solar hot water installations available from LiveSmart BC, they can save $1,750 in total.)

Both the ecoENERGY program and the LiveSmart BC program require the homeowner to have a pre- and post-retrofit energy evaluation. To qualify for ecoENERGY funding, purchases of energy saving equipment must be made after June 6, 2011, and retrofits and the post-retrofit evaluations must be completed by March 31, 2012. For LiveSmart BC funding, retrofits must be completed within 18 months of the pre-retrofit evaluation or before March 31, 2013, whichever comes first. LiveSmart BC funding is provided on a first come, first served basis.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for BC residents to install solar hot water systems, save on their energy bills, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”, says SolarBC Manager, Julia Roberts. “I recommend that residents act on this opportunity quickly as the timelines are tight and we saw LiveSmart BC grants snapped up last year”.

Read more about the ecoENERGY Retrofit for Homes Program

The complete list of available ecoEnergy grants can be found here

You can review details of the LiveSmart BC program here.

(Information above courtesy of SolarBC)

For more information on being Solar Ready, we are providing some links which you may find helpful:

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics frombuilding innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to theDrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.
September 29th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.
 

Lake Washington Residence contemporary patio

In modern and contemporary architecture it’s clear that glass is key. Full-height glazing, ribbon windows, tall windows, just about anything outside of traditional punched openings is the norm. But with larger expanses of glass it is often necessary — depending on window placement and orientation, among other things — to provide some sort of sunshade to cut down on solar heat gain in the warm months, while allowing light back in during fall and winter.

Nature provides the best sunshade: deciduous trees filter sunlight in the summer, but when their leaves fall of toward the winter, that valuable sunlight and heat is reintroduced into the house. But trees take time to grow, and sometimes it’s not possible to plant a tree in the place it’s needed for this type of shading. Enter louvered sunshades. These cantilevered assemblies filter the high summer sun, but their placement at the top of windows lets the low winter sun enter below them. Below is a sampling of some houses incorporating sunshades in various applications.

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

September 8th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

As you are looking to build a new home, you may wish to consider implementing photovoltaic (PV) collection. Once considered to be an eccentric addition to a home, solar collection is becoming more commonplace and technologies and products are more readily available.

The CMHC produces a series of informational materials which provide valuable and impartial information. A 12-page guide to Photovoltaic (PV) systems is an excellent primer.

EQuilibriumTM demonstration home in Red Deer, Alberta uses PV tiles

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are used to convert sunlight into electricity. They are a safe, reliable,low-maintenance source of solar electricity that produces no on-site pollution or emissions. PV systems incur few operating costs and are easy to install on most Canadian homes. PV systems fall into two main categories—off-grid and grid-connected. The “grid” refers to the local electric utility’s infrastructure that supplies electricity to homes and businesses. Off-grid systems are installed in remote locations where there is no utility grid available. 

PV systems have been used effectively in Canada to provide power in remote locations for transport route signalling, navigational aids, remote homes, telecommunication, and remote sensing and monitoring. Internationally, utility grid-connected PV systems represent the majority of installations, growing at a rate of over 30% annually. In Canada, as of 2009, 90% of the capacity is in off-grid applications; however, the number of grid-connected systems continues to grow because many of the barriers to interconnection have been addressed through the adoption of harmonized standards and codes. In addition, provincial policies supporting grid interconnection of PV power have encouraged a number of building integrated PV applications throughout Canada. 

With rising electricity costs,concerns with respect to the reliabilityof continuous service delivery and increased environmental awareness of homeowners, the demand for residential PV systems is increasing. This About Your House aims to inform homeowners of what they need to consider before purchasing a system. The information presented will focus on grid-connected PV systems. To learn more about off-grid applications, consult CMHC’s Research Highlight fact sheet Energy Use Patterns in Off-Grid Houses.

Read the CMHC full photovoltaic systems highlight sheet here

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

August 26th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

Nearly all of our electricity generation options involve converting mechanical energy into electrical energy—usually using a dynamo or turbine. The significant exception is photovoltaics, in which sunlight is converted directly into electricity—with no moving parts.  

Photovoltaic (PV) cells use a phenomenon called the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity. A cell is made of a semiconductor material—a material that conducts electricity but whose electrical conductivity can be altered by adding small quantities of other elements (a process referred to as doping). Crystalline silicon is the most common semiconductor used, though other materials are being used as well, including amorphous silicon, cadmium-telluride (CdTe), gallium arsenide (GaAs), and copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS). Most of these alternatives are being tried in an effort to reduce costs. 

In manufacturing PV cells, thin wafers or strips of the semiconductor material are created, but these cells have two different layers. The top side is doped with an element that has an extra electron, usually phosphorous, to give it a negative charge (N type), while the back side is doped with a different element, usually boron, that is shy an electron, giving it a positive charge (P type). The cell junction separates these two layers.

When photons of sunlight strike the PV cell, electrons in the N layer are excited and jump across the P-N cell junction. This creates a charge imbalance, with electrons wanting to return to the N layer of the cell. By connecting the two sides of the cell with a wire, electrons are able to return to the N layer—and that electron flow is the electric current that we are able to make use of. While electrons move around in this process, there are no “moving parts” to wear out—as there are in nearly all other electrical generation systems.

Numerous individual PV cells are wired together in series to create a PV module, which increases the current flow, and then multiple modules can be combined to create a PV array. A PV system includes an array as well as various balance of system components, including charge controller, inverter (if direct current is to be converted into alternating current), and—depending on the application—batteries for storing the solar-generated electricity. 

Refinement of the photovoltaic process and improvements in PV efficiency are the focus of a tremendous amount of research going on worldwide today. While the efficiency of the best crystalline silicon PV modules is now above 20%, much of the leading research is focused on lower-cost, thin-film technologies that have lower efficiencies, but that offer the promise of significantly lower-cost PV power.

Article source: BuildingGreen.com “Environmental Building News

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

August 4th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

How much do our buildings really contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? The answers may be surprising.

Over 50% of all GHGs in the U.S. come from our homes and businesses, and over 40% of the country’s energy consumption goes toward powering those structures. Contrast that with the 28% of energy consumption for cars and other transportation, and it’s clear that our homes are expending energy resources at an unacceptable rate.

So what’s greener? Building a new house or renovating an old one? Both are worthy endeavors, but with many existing homes using twice as much energy as they should, home improvement edges out new construction.

However, that’s not the only reason it’s greener to upgrade your existing home. New homes need new infrastructure, including roads, sewage lines, electrical lines and street lighting – all entailing more expenditures of energy. In addition, new homes require the production of new materials, while materials from existing homes are generally recyclable.

What’s greener for your pocketbook? The answer may be both. Homes with a significant number of green features can sell for up to 30% more than traditional homes – either for new or existing homes. In today’s down-turned housing market, green technology gives you a substantial advantage.

For homeowners planning to stay in their homes, the return on investment period is getting shorter, with many recouping costs in as little as three years. In their book, Green$ense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects, architect Eric Freed and Kevin Daum found that 45 out of the 50 retrofitting projects that they examined saved money in energy costs.

To discover which renovations bring the most savings, read the entire article from Calfinder…

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

December 4th, 2010
By Vivian Martin

Our parody on the Twelve Days of Christmas continues. We dare you not to sing them out loud!

Four house plans to choose from,

Three French city planners,

Two steel-toed boots,

and a journal for my hopes and dreams!

************************************************************

There are so many options but only one will do. When looking at house plans, it goes back to the priorities and wishlist you should have from your journal (remember the one from the first day of building -the one for all your hopes and dreams?) You may find yourself with a shortlist of plans that are spot on or very close to your priorities. Of course, they will also be within the local zoning parameters (third day of building).

When making your final decision for your plan, run through this checklist:

Privacy – how much and where is it required? Most new home owners prefer home plans with more privacy in the master bedroom and personal living spaces, others might need privacy in a home office space. Is it more important that these rooms are private from other occupants or neighbours? Check the placement of windows to see if they will provide adequate privacy from neighbors’ windows and yard spaces. Also consider your outdoor spaces, how you will use them and if they will have enough privacy with your selected plan.

Consider the views. Make sure your design capitalizes on your views, whether a scenic vista or a great cityscape. You may even go as far as to take a ladder to get an idea of what the actual views from an upper level will be.

Where do you want the morning sun? Take note of the way the sun tracks in relation to the plans you are considering. Do you love waking up with the sun shining in? Kitchens are also a strong consideration.  It is very common to orient the kitchen to the morning sun. Natural light plays such a strong part in mood that this is a very important consideration. Sometimes a plan you love can simply be reversed to take advantage of natural light.

Geographical and natural landscape features. Lot features including slope and mature trees will dictate the suitability of a design. Also, while choosing a plan, consider whether the lot space and features will allow for outdoor recreation space and landscaping, lawn or gardens.

Life happens. Think of your typical household flows and imagine how the design you are considering will work. Think of your daily routines and imagine how this flows in the plan you are considering. Which entry will you use? How will you deal with bringing shopping bags in? How often will you access backyard spaces and how easy is this?

Tweak your plan. As you fine-tune your decision, it is a great opportunity to address any parts that don’t quite work for you. It is far simpler to fine-tune your design before building than living with a plan that doesn’t work for you.

At Drummond House Plans, we recognize that changes are commonly required to meet your unique needs. Plans can either be customized or features from several plans or ideas can be merged in a custom design from our design team. We are accustomed to assisting in this process and look forward to your questions.

Stay tuned for all 12 days or look at the full 12 days of building series for articles you may have missed!

Happy Holidays!

October 17th, 2010
By Vivian Martin

As the U.S. housing market continues to stall, homeowners looking to sell their homes need to identify the best steps they can take to make their property stand out.  The right home improvement projects can increase property value and help homes sell faster, but the impact of home improvements on property value varies widely. This is no time to throw away money on something that won’t help close the deal. 

For example, while kitchen remodeling usually delivers a good return on investment, the impact of adding a swimming pool can be hard to predict because of the additional expense pool maintenance adds to the existing cost of homeownership.  Several sustainability measures that developers and real-estate agents can recommend are energy-efficiency improvements, such as weatherizing homes, replacing outdated appliances with energy-efficient models, and installing renewable energy devices, such as solar panels, solar powered water heaters, or geothermal heat pumps.  

Studies are starting to show that solar panels help homes sell.  According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, energy-saving improvements “attract attention in a competitive market.” In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy states that a solar home will sell twice as quickly as a home without solar panels.  And this makes sense; a home with solar power lowers monthly electric bills because it requires less traditional electricity from the utility.  Homebuyers now realize that solar delivers monthly cost savings while helping the environment, so homes with this built-in cost-saving mechanism will stand out in a tough market. 

Further, lower electric bills can positively impact property values.  A widely-referenced study by ICF Consulting concluded that reducing electric bills by $1 a year can add $20 to a home’s value.  This means that cutting yearly electric costs by $1,000, could increase home value by $20,000. 

Read entire Sustainable Industries Magazine article by Lynn Jurich here…

Thanks for visiting the DrummondHousePlans blog!

September 19th, 2010
By Richard Martin - BC Distributor

With the greening of many building codes, “solar readiness”  is creeping into the code. What does this mean and what is involved? In speaking with a number of builders, this is not as complicated as it sounds and is most cost-effectively done when the home is being built. It generally adds about $200 – $500 to the cost of a new build and allows for the future use of solar energy. Solar energy may be used to heat water or produce electricity for your household.

As per Natural Resources Canada: Solar Ready is a cost-effective upgrade you can choose for your new home – an upgrade that could help you make big savings in energy costs. Solar energy systems capture the sun’s clean renewable energy, so your home may provide savings for you and a positive environmental impact in the future.

Solar Ready means preparing a home to make future solar installations easy. When you choose the Solar Ready option, your builder will design cost-effective adjustments for your home so you can install solar equipment in the future.

Solar terminology

A solar domestic hot-water system enables use of solar energy to heat water.
A photovoltaic system converts sunlight into electricity.

What does being Solar Ready involve?

A Solar Ready home must meet five basic requirements for the installation of solar energy systems:

  • a roof location of suitable size, pitch and orientation
  • labelled conduits from the mechanical room to the attic
  • extra plumbing valves and fittings on the water heater
  • an electrical outlet at the planned solar tank location
  • construction plans that indicate the future component locations

For more information on being Solar Ready, we are providing some links which you may find helpful:

 



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