We all want to reduce our carbon footprint and save money. One easy way for homeowners to achieve this goal is to invest in solar panels, home batteries, and proper insulation. Together these three technologies work together to bring you closer to achieving a net-zero home– a home that produces as much electricity as it uses on an annual basis.
The Benefits of Solar Panels
Adding a solar electric system to your home can not only reduce your utility costs, but also prepare you for a renewable energy future.
That is one of the many benefits you could experience by adding solar panels to your home. Solar panel technology continues to evolve, which means panels are able to harness solar energy much more efficiently. At the same time, over the last few years, the cost of installing solar electric systems has fallen dramatically, making it easier and more affordable than ever to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
The Benefits of Giving Back
In January of 2009, the Alberta government passed a law that stated that energy companies were required to buy back the unused energy solar systems produce at the customer’s retail rate.
This means that if you buy electricity for $0.08 per kilowatt hour you will be credited $0.08 per kilowatt hour for any additional energy you produce and pump back into the power grid. This process is called net billing, and can dramatically reduce your family’s overall electricity bill.
According to Efficiency Alberta (a government agency whose aim is to help Albertans save energy), the City of Edmonton is currently offering a rebate of $0.15 per kilowatt hour in addition to the $0.75 per kilowatt hour rebate offered through the Energy Efficient Alberta initiative. These generous rebates could save you enough money to defray approximately one-third of the cost of installing solar panels in your home.
Tesla’s Powerwall Revolution
One of the most impressive systems currently on the market is Tesla’s Powerwall. Tesla, which is known for its impressive electric cars, aims to change our fundamental relationship with fossil fuels as it rapidly expands into the renewable energy sector.
A Powerwall is essentially a giant battery for your home. It can be used in conjunction with a solar panel system to store energy, giving your home up to seven days of backup power should you experience an outage.
Powerwalls also allows you to store excess solar energy collected during sunny times and use it when you need to, further reducing your electricity bill.
Tesla has partnered with the government of the state of South Australia to outfit 50,000 homes with solar panels and Powerwalls, turning the houses into a giant interconnected power plant. The project will provide free solar energy to all of the connected homes, and the sale of the excess energy captures will finance the project.
After Hurricane Maria left much of Puerto Rico in the dark Tesla set up solar panels and storage batteries at the Hospital del Nino, a children’s hospital located in San Juan so that the hospital could once again have access to a reliable electricity source.
The Benefits of Good Insulation
Generating our own power, and using less of it, is only part of the equation for achieving a net-zero home. In order to best maximize your home’s energy efficiency, you need to invest in quality insulation. Insulation helps reduce the amount of heat that bleeds out of our homes, making it easier and cheaper for our heating systems to keep us warm. There are many types of insulation available, and each has its strengths. It is important that you choose an insulation that is right for the job and can stand up to Canada’s harsh winters.
When choosing a brand or type of insulation it is important to consider its R factor. The higher the R factor, the less energy you will lose. One simple way to reduce heat loss is to add an extra layer of insulation. However, materials such as steel beams (which are notoriously poor insulators) can undermine your efforts if they aren’t properly insulated as well.
Many home building companies and renovation businesses are now adding a layer of foam between the insulation and the outer wall in order to help reduce the amount of heat that is lost.
You should also make sure that your attic and basement are properly insulated, and that your windows and doors do not have gaps that allow heat to bleed out.
A Multi-Part Solution to the Energy Equation!
Solar energy is becoming a more accessible and cost-effective solution for Alberta families every day. The technology has also evolved rapidly, and as we have seen in Australia, is revolutionizing how we produce and distribute energy. However, producing our own energy and using it efficiently is only part of the equation.
To reduce the amount of heat that is wasted you also need to ensure your home is properly insulated, and that items such ill-fitted doors and windows aren’t undermining your goal of reducing your heating and electricity bills.
As Alberta continues to adapt in the face of an ever-changing energy environment, we would be wise to adopt a critical and comprehensive approach to energy generation and conservation. As sustainable energy generation becomes less expensive, and energy storage solutions become increasingly available, we can benefit our economies and environment at home by investing in more efficient structures.
You can count on us here at Effect Home Builders to be leading the way.