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Sunshine feeds first Solar Colwood retrofit

Tom Lundrigan is the first of potentially hundreds of Colwood homeowners to install a solar hot water system in their homes through the Solar Colwood project. Grants from the project and two levels of government cut more than 60 per cent from his installation cost. - Edward Hill/News staff
Tom Lundrigan is the first of potentially hundreds of Colwood homeowners to install a solar hot water system in their homes through the Solar Colwood project. Grants from the project and two levels of government cut more than 60 per cent from his installation cost.
— image credit: Edward Hill/News staff

With two solar panels bolted to the south wall of Tom Lundrigan’s Colwood home, it’s one system down, 879 to go.

The 27-year-old is the first to have a solar hot water system installed through the $3.9-million Solar Colwood project. Using a series of municipal, provincial and federal grants, the project is offering varying levels of rebates for 880 solar hot water and 120 ductless heat pump systems.

“I saw the opportunity to improve the efficiency of my house and to see the different stages of how the process works,” said Lundrigan, who works as a home energy efficiency consultant.

He admits his house is “a little leaky” in terms of heat loss. “Seeing how my house is becoming energy efficient is something I can relay to homeowners.”

With $3,000 from Solar Colwood, $500 from LiveSmart BC and $1,250 from the federal  ecoEnergy Retrofit program, Lundrigan will pay about $2,300 for his Viessmann solar hot water heating system.

Energy from two solar panels flows to a closed-loop glycol heat exchange, which warms tap water before it’s stored in a 40-gallon tank. That pre-heated water is then transferred to the home’s hot water tank.

James Smyth with Pacific Solar Smart, which installed the system, estimates a large family would save $500 per year in electricity costs, giving the solar hot water system a five or six year pay back period with the grants.

Such systems can last for many decades Smyth said — solar panels installed in the 1970s still work well today. He also noted that pre-heating water with a solar system reduces power consumption and extends the life of heating elements within home’s hot water tank.

“Hot water tanks have 70 per cent less heat load,” Smyth said.

To qualify for LiveSmart BC and ecoEnergy grants, homeowners require a home energy audit. See www.solarcolwood.ca or call Solar Colwood project co-ordinator J Scott at 250-884-0784 for details.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

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