Sunday, April 22, 2007

How we'd like to green our house

Over the past few months I've been researching different ways of greening our house. Since today is Earth Day, I thought I'd share a couple. Not that we're going to implement any of them yet, mostly because we can't afford it, or aren't ready yet.

Photovoltaic Solar Panels - There's a company called Unisolar that make photovoltaic shingles. They're really expensive at the moment, and the equipment you need to convert to a/c power, and batteries etc. If everyone had them though, imagine how much less electricity we'd use. We get a lot of rain and cloud here, but I think it still would be worth it eventually, as the price comes down, and the efficiency goes up. Plus our roof isn't ready to replace yet, so any kind of solar system would mean doing the roof now, since you'd want it to last at least 30 years. They also have a system where you can feed power back to the grid, so you don't need batteries, and you can draw power off the grid at night, when you use power the most.

Tankless Hot Water Heater - A lot of people seem to be switching to tankless. I think our current water heater is less than 6 years old, so it's not quite ready to replace. I've been looking at the Takagi water heaters, and they don't seem too expensive. The current government is coming out with a program to retrofit your house, so we'll see what kind of rebates they offer. Currently we spend as much on hot water as we do on heating, since our climate is mild, at least for Canada.

Laundry Spinners - I found these over on Treehugger, by spinning your laundry for just 2 minutes, you can reduce drying time by over half. And if its a nice day, you could just hang it on the line for less than an hour. I was looking at one over at Laundry Alternatives, it`s cheaper than the one I found on Treehugger, and seems to have positive reviews, so I think we`ll order one within the next month or so.

What we`ve been doing in the meantime is to change all our light bulbs to compact fluorescent, turn the computer off when we`re not using it. We`ve turned the down the thermostat 1 degree Celsius. We put all our electronics on a power bar, and turn it off at night so they don`t draw power (it`s a bit of a pain, with the cable box, since it takes a couple hours for the guide to work, when you turn it back on). Our car isn`t that green, it`s a subcompact, so it`s not like it`s a truck or suv, and we just paid it off. Our next car will be either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Someone in our neighbourhood has an electric car, it only goes 40km per hour, so not very practical. I like the idea of an electric car, it`s going to be at least 10 years until they`re mass produced. So I guess that`s it for the moment, we`ll keep you posted, as we make the changes, we have a long ways to go.


Trissa said...

Way to go- we've been changing our lightbulbs as well. The light is a little different, but definitely worth the difference in energy usage.
We're not quite to the point of making sure everything is turned off, but that's next on my list!

derek said...

yeah, baby steps. I think Canada is banning incandescents, that was their big announcement today. It could just be PR to make the conservative government look green before an election though. A change either way is good though.