Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Daring Duo - Solar Hot Water and Tankless Unit

Jane and I are about to embark on the final energy retrofit before calling in the energy auditor for our final assessment. We want to install a solar hot water heater and tankless hot water unit.

A quick recap
Jane and I took advantage of the federal government’s EcoEnergy program in April 2009. An energy auditor from GreenSaver assessed our 90 year old home and rated its efficiency at 43 percent. Based on the auditor recommendations, we replaced the old furnace with a high efficiency one, had insulation pumped into the walls, attic and basement exterior header and replaced the windows and doors with ones that are Energy Star rated. I also went about caulking up the base boards and other cracks, and insulated the electrical outlets. The expected outcome is an improved efficiency of 76 percent.

The Empire Strikes Back
Regrettably, on April 1st the Conservative government ended the popular EcoEnergy program that offered incentives, matched by the provinces, to Canadians to make their homes more energy efficient.

This decision does not affect Jane and me or others who received their audit before March 31st. It just makes it difficult for others who considered participating in the program. Here’s a thought for the feds: rather than subsidize oil, provide grants to Canadians who want to make their homes energy efficient, which will stimulate local jobs. Happily the provinces are still on board to provide the grants.

The Daring Duo - Solar Hot Water and Tankless Combined!
As to the final retrofit act, I was torn. The auditor suggested a tankless hot water unit for our home. Rather than use a hot water tank that heated the water 24/7, the tankless system heats the water on demand. But I was also intrigued by the solar hot water system, which provides a savings of up to 60 percent on annual hot water heating costs. And solar is just so darn cool.

While at the Green Living Show, a representative from GreenSaver suggested I install both a solar hot water and the tankless system, and take advantage of the substantial rebates we will receive from the EcoEnergy program. How much will we save? GreenSaver’s solar hot water system and installation costs $5,500. The federal and provincial rebates at $2,500 almost cut that in half. With an additional GreenSaver promotion, the whole thing will cost us $2,500. We’d be foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity.

Meanwhile, the tankless system, which will serve as a backup to the solar system, alone can provide considerable savings on hot water as well. Prices and efficiency vary depending on the system, but the federal and provincial rebates will be up to $500.

We’re looking into getting a low interest loan through Alterna for the solar and the tankless systems and to pay off the loan in two years. The solar hot water system should last for 20 years.


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1 comment:

Christine said...

It's a good thing you folks acted last year, as it turns out (thanks a lot, HarperCons)! We have been actively researching putting solar panels on our northwestern Ontario home as part of the FIT program, as well as using biofuels in a pellet stove for heating our home. It's exciting to think of being on the vanguard of a cleaner, greener way of living.