Thursday, August 19, 2010

solar + tankless hot water = fun + eco-chic awesome

First, a few super easy calls to action

Support Wind Power - If you live in Ontario, I encourage you to tell the provincial government that you support wind power. The government is considering a 5km exclusion zone for off-shore wind power. This would kill any attempt to install wind turbines in Lake Ontario. The province is open for comments until Aug 24. Please visit the Toronto Environmental Alliance’s website for more information and a link to the provincial comment page -

Help the People of Pakistan – Weather-related catastrophes are wrecking havoc around the world, chief of which is the mind-boggling devastation in Pakistan due to the flood. We have to kick donor fatigue in the butt, because I can tell you right now, this is a taste for more weather-related disasters to come. An easy way to give is through AVAAZ, which will direct donations to reputable relief agencies in the region -

solar + tankless hot water = emissions + dollar savings

Last week GreenSaver installed a solar hot water heater on our roof! Yes - a solar panel now sits on our roof! How cool is that!!! – Or, how hot is that, when the sun is out. When the sun is not out we will rely on our tankless water heater, which will be installed next Tuesday.

Recap – In March 2009, GreenSaver conducted a home energy audit on Jane and my house. We found out that it was 43 percent efficient. GreenSaver recommended installing a high efficiency furnace, insulating our attic and walls, caulking bulkheads and cracks, and installing Energy Star rated windows and doors and a tankless water heater. In so doing, GreenSaver estimated that we could bump up the efficiency of our house to 76 percent.

We did most of the work. We have a few last minute things to do, such as the tankless water heater. The second energy audit, scheduled for September 10th, will determine how well we did with the retrofits and instruct the government on how much grant money we will receive. Note that the federal government is no longer participating in the program, but will issue grants on audits made before March 31st.

Solar Hot Water – When I mentioned to someone that we just installed solar hot water her first reaction was that we can expect cold showers on cloudy days. Not so. The Solar Hot Water system works with either your hot water tank or a tankless system. On days when the solar panels are not generating enough heat, the hot water tank or tankless unit kicks in. You always have hot water.

The solar hot water heater reduces the need for your fossil fuel driven water heater, and can save up to 60 percent on your annual hot water heating costs. GreenSaver estimates that Jane and I will save 326 cubic meters of natural gas per year, which constitutes 16 percent of all natural gas we use annually.

Through the EcoEnergy Program Jane and I will enjoy big savings through federal and provincial grants. The governments will together kick in $2,500 to offset the $5,500 system. With an additional discount through a GreenSaver sale, we will pay only $2,500 for a system that will save us money and greenhouse gas emissions for as long as we own our house.

Tankless – Hot water tanks are heated 24/7, even when hot water is needed only briefly throughout the day. To give you a sense of hot water tanks’ inherent energy-hog nature, the efficiency of our current, and fairly new, hot water tank is estimated at 55 percent. That’s pretty piggy. A tankless hot water system heats water on demand, saving you energy and money. A co-worker confided that she has noticed no difference in quality after installing her tankless system. Once our tankless unit is in place, GreenSaver will hook up the solar hot water heater.

My friend John Cannell will hook up our tankless unit, plug up the chimney where the hot water tank was vented, and install a programmable thermostat as well. We’re almost ready for our second energy audit. I'm looking forward to seeing the new efficiency rating for our house.


Christine said...

Thanks for the update, and the pics - it gives me a much clearer idea of a solar WH tank. Our roof-top solar panels were delivered last week, and installation should be happening near the end of Sept - just in time for the 10/10/10 work party!

ZenHomeEnergy said...

Another advantage that these newer solar panels provide is their durability.


KeerthanaK2 said...

Many high profile business leaders have signaled their support for clean energy including former Premiers Mike Harris and Erne Eves. (

And now, the Pembina Institute, an independent organization, has released a study which says the wind, solar and biogas power producers under Ontario’s feed-in tariff program are being blamed unfairly for rising power prices.

The alternatives are no cheaper. The FIT program would never add more than 1.5 per cent, or about $2 a month, to the typical consumer hydro bill, the study says.

Read it here: