SASKATOON – A Saskatoon home had to use virtually no power to keep the heat on despite a cold snap that resulted in record-breaking energy usage across the province.
“At minus 35 [degrees Celsius], our furnace did not have to run over those last two warm days,” says Murray Guy, an engineer who designed and built his ‘net zero’ house in the city’s North Park neighbourhood.
“Our goal in a year is to produce as much energy as we use.”
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The house has several features that distinguish it from an ordinary home. Solar panels on the roof capture energy from the sun, large south-facing windows let the heat in, lighting is LED and appliances are energy efficient. But Guy didn’t sacrifice style, the home features all the conveniences and comforts of modern living.
“[Net zero houses] don’t have to look like a hippie house, they can be beautiful,” Guy says.
READ MORE: Mattamy Homes builds first of 5 Net Zero energy efficient homes in Calgary
The thermostat is high tech as well, programmed to learn a family’s usage pattern.
“For every degree that you turn your thermostat down, you can save four per cent energy,” Guy says.
In total, all the enhancements result in a $50,000 premium over a normal home. According to Guy, it’s an investment that promises to pay for itself in 10 years.
While Guy’s furnace is barely turning on, the rest of the province is using record-high amounts of energy. This month, records for both gas and power usage were broken. SaskPower reached a new peak usage of 36,00 MW, and SaskEnergy reported a 2 per cent increase from last year. The company also said that the province is now breaking new records more frequently than before.
Still, it’s no problem for Guy, whose energy bill is much smaller than that of most home owners. He’s hoping that along with his company, Eco Smart Developments, it’s the start of a green movement.
“We know that buildings contribute 40 per cent of greenhouse gases. There should be no reason why we can’t solve 40 per cent of the problem and make all buildings net zero by 2020.”