Step 1: Know how much electricity you use see an electric bill at the left pictured. This is important to know so you can 'size' your system. Or find out how many solar panels you will need to power your electrical usage.
Step 2: Start to reduce your usage The less energy you use the less infrastructure you need to add and most importantly it helps you save money and decide which type of system you will chose off-grid or on-grid. Here are a few suggestions to reduce your energy usage:
- Few tips here Top 10 ways to stop wasting money
- Energy Calculator to show where you use the most
- Replacing your typical lights with LED is an easy way.
- Stove, hot water, refrigerator etc.
Step 3: Decide - will you have an Off-Grid or On-Grid System? The decision isn't as simple as you might image.
Off-Grid (Diagram if you click title)
- You are independent and creating your own energy.
- If the power goes on the grid it doesn't impact you.
- Can cost more because you need extra components compared to an on-grid
system i.e batteries
- Unless you have a back up generator you are on your own so if you use up your stores you have no electricity.
On-Grid (Diagram if you click title)
- It requires fewer components so can be cheaper.
- You have the grid to back up your power supply so if you are short in your production of power then they give you what you need.
- If the grid goes down so do you.
- For PEI residents we currently have net metering which means you can't earn money but they do give you credit if you are using some of their electric one month and you are giving them electric another month or netting out to zero. If you give them more - you don't get any extra and lose the credit at the end of the year. And you still are required to pay the monthly service fee. More Information
Step 4: DIY or Hire Someone
This will depend on your comfort level and your budget.
Solar Furnace - Darcie Lanthier presented her class project (Renewable Energy at Holland College) on a solar furnace that she uses to heat her chicken coop in the winter. This isn't Darcie's video but gives you an idea of what she built. Solar Furnace Darcie used aluminum column cut in two and the total project cost just under $50. Very interesting and maybe we can do a fall session where we are shown how to build one.
Rocket Stove - Rory Beck presented on what a rocket stove is and how it works this link gives a great summary for you to see. A rocket stove is similar in some ways to a wood stove or masonry furnace but cheaper to build. A rocket stove uses 15% less wood approximately then a wood stove and small sticks can be used rather than logs. Well done presentation. Rory had the experts come to PEI to build his rocket stove which is in their barn. Insurance/regulatory issues need to be addressed on this type of heating but would certainly be worth looking at. If you are interested in building a small demo here is a site that shows you how.
Next Sustainable Living Session is Saturday, April 20th 1:00pm is a Start a Garden Demo and 3:00pm to 5:00pm will be Sustainable Transportation more details here.