Thursday, October 23, 2008

Energy-efficient demonstration homes

An interesting story in Monday's Globe and Mail about the future of energy-efficient homes which are able to function off the electrical grid in Canada's climate.
Just don't call him an envirofreak

David Braden has built a completely energy-efficient home - it generates its own power and won't even need a furnace come winter. But his techniques aren't outlandish...

Come this winter, Mr. Braden predicts he'll be warm and toasty in a house that doesn't have a furnace. He plans to keep it warm at practically no cost, relying mainly on sunlight streaming through his bank of south-facing windows to heat the place, and perhaps a little help from the waste heat from appliances such as hair dryers.

"Do I think this house absolutely needs no furnace and could easily heat with either a hair dryer or 10 light bulbs?" he asks. "Absolutely I do."

Mr. Braden, a former municipal politician and retired home builder, is part an emerging trend, the next frontier in residential construction beyond R-2000 homes, the current gold standard for energy-sipping housing in Canada.
About 4 years ago, I had the opportunity to stay in one of these "totally off the grid" kinds of homes - The Osprey Nest Bed and Breakfast on Manitoulin Island. Some of the features include solar panels, wood stove, no furnace, some kind of geo-thermal energy, propane fridge and super-thick insulation. Owner Bernie told me that he could leave for weeks at a time in the winter and return and wear only a t-shirt the moment he entered the house. He passed on the savings to his customers which did not emanour him with this fellow B&B operators. You can hardly go wrong for $45 a night for two people including homemade breakfast. He also cooks a mean salmon.

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