Friday, 15 July 2011

Integrated high efficiency and solar systems - what are they and what are typical savings?

With the re introduction of the ecoENERGY incentives people are getting interested in high efficiency heating and solar equipment again.

I spend a fair amount of time sharing with our customers what I believe to be one of the best solutions out there for integrating solar with a high efficiency natural gas system. I describe it as an integrated system and it combines solar for heating the domestic water with a high efficiency natural gas boiler for heating the home. If the home has radiant heat all the better, the boiler also heats the radiant parts of the home.

The benefits of this type of system are it is extremely efficient, maximizes the use of solar for heating the hot water and if planned for can be installed in phases to reduce the upfront cost. In addition it reduces the need for two hot water tanks (one for hot water and one for solar storage) in your mechanical room which allows installations to occur in smaller mechanical rooms. Another benefit of a system like this is the flexibility now available for controlling the system, controls can be simple thermostats on the wall all the way up to integrated controllers that work on your smart phone allowing you to monitor or control settings when not at home. 

So now that I have shared some of the reasons to consider an integrated system from an installation and operational stand point what about the savings - both emission wise and dollars wise? Before I get into some numbers associated with reduced monthly bills I want to touch on an item not often discussed and that is increased home value. The Appraisal institute of Canada, , estimates that home efficiency improvements increase the value of a home by 61 cents on the dollar. So if a homeowner spends $10,000 on an energy efficiency improvement they  can expect their home value to increase by $6,100. Not bad and certainly a nice upside to doing the right thing while saving money on your monthly bill. Add to that the pending addition of an Energuide rating field in the popular MLS real estate tool and your home, should you decide to sell it, has a new selling feature. But what about the monthly savings? Below you will see some sample numbers showing possible savings, emission reductions and a positive return on investment. As you can see the efficiency improvements are significant as are the emission reductions. I should point out that this example was done during the time the ecoENERGY program was shutdown so the ecoENERGY incentives discussed in the previous post are not included in the ROI calculations.

To summarize, integrated systems save money, increase the value of your home and significantly reduce emissions while reducing your utility bill. And control and monitoring of these systems can be easily integrated into our busy smart phone based lives.

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