An increase in the information about household hydro usage would do wonders to increase awareness among homeowners

HOMEFINDER: The future of solar power is here

Misconceptions abound about residential solar energy

The region’s Solar Colwood and Solar CRD subsidy initiative has passed but the trend for homeowners  to consider installing solar hot water heating systems or solar photovoltaic panels is still growing, says Judith Cullington, former Colwood councillor who was behind the now-defunct Solar Colwood hot water program.

One of the preconceptions with solar that potential buyers get hung up on is the so called ‘payback period.’

“It really is an odd thing about renewable energy, that buyers (automatically) question what the payback period will be,” Cullington said.

The payback period is the return on investment, how much, and how long.

“No one asks what the payback period will be with a new car or a granite counter top, but with solar, everyone wants to know that.”

And the reality is it’s quite strong. The Colwood resident has solar photovoltaic at her house and on a sunny day it not only provides her house’s electrical needs, it supplies the excess energy to other houses in her neighbourhood. Because she’s tied into the grid, she gets that money back from her hydro bill.

“We’re very lucky in B.C., B.C. Hydro makes it very easy to install solar compared to other places in the world.

“Once people understand what a strong return on investment you can get I think we’ll see a greater number of people  installing solar,” Cullington said.

“Anyone who is looking to invest in their future should know you’ll get a very competitive nine per cent return on investment from a solar hot water system. For most of us that’s better than we’re going to get on a bank’s interest, a particularly solid investment if you’re planning on staying in the house.”

Solar Colwood results showed an average savings from the hot water system on energy bills of saving 44 per cent on the hot water bill.

But misconceptions still exist. “One of the biggest is ‘I can’t afford it,’” Cullington said, “which is interesting, because it means, you can’t afford to save money. Every house is different, and yes there is a money upfront but savings grow as hydro rates increase, and we’re seeing that they’re really increasing.”

There’s also mistruths about the sun, of which Greater Victoria has plenty enough of to enable a solar system.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: How can I add solar appeal to my home on a budget?

A creative and inexpensive way to start the solar process at your home, can be to start with outdoor lighting for your home, yard, porch, deck, or garden.

Solar lighting is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the more popular and standard electric lighting most people are used to both indoors and outdoors.

Not only can solar lights be environmentally favourable options for your home exterior, they can also be affordably priced and save your electricity bill over time.

They are also easier to install (no electrician needed). You can do it yourself, with less concerns about laying wire and getting electrocuted.

Many solar lights use photo-voltaic cells that absorb sunlight during the day and turn it into energy when you need it at night, storing energy in rechargeable batteries that later emit light with an LED which requires minimal power and still illuminate the walkway to your house garden or just add decorative ambiance to your deck or home front in the evening when you need it most.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » Month to date  April 13/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 264 / 664 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL,  April 2014

» 561 / 1,521 — NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, April 2014

» 3,870 / 4,404 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, April 2014

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