Due to the orientation of our house and lot however we were limited and had to use inventive methods to use the sun to our advantage. We used thermal masses throughout the house creating a heat sink which stores the heat from the sun and releases it at night. Opposite a large south facing window, we applied extra coats of clay plaster which increased the thermal mass of that wall. By adding shades, heat loss will be minimized and heat gain during the hot summer months will be reduced. Planting trees and large overhangs also reduce heat gain in the summer.
Solar Hot Water:
For this home, we have installed a solar hot water heater which reduces the amount of energy required for hot water production and as a result reduces our hot water heating costs. According to Natural Resources Canada, “a typical solar hot water system will reduce annual energy costs by 40 to 50 percent. You can expect that a solar water heater will provide you with 1500 to 3000 kWh of energy per year, depending on your hot water usage and regional climate.” This translates to an approximate household savings of $400 to $600. “In fact, a solar water heater will eliminate up to 2 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, in proportion to your energy savings” so we will also be directly reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, released into the atmosphere), thereby contributing to a healthier environment.
A reflective metal roof is both energy efficient and can be less expensive than other roof treatments. The roof helps combat climate change by reducing contribution to the urban heat island, minimizing black roof heat sinks. It also helps to keep the house cooler in the summer, by reducing the temperature gradient in the roof insulation.
We’ve installed an electrical conduit between the service area of our house and the roof allowing for solar panels in the future. We have chosen to invest our money into solar hot water system and into electrical reduction through LED lamps, efficient appliances etc… rather then investing in a solar electric system at this time.