Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Solar energy confusion

For the past several weeks we have been investigating solar options for our home.

We are primarily concerned about the dramatic rise in the cost of heating oil. Heating oil is approximately $2 more per gallon than it was last year at this time. That's nearly double!

We have reviewed and considered solar hot water for water, solar hot water for heating and solar hot air systems. While photovoltaic is interesting, the efficiency of these systems and cost (combined with lack of State rebate money) makes them less relevant to us.

After many hours of research and talking with suppliers and installers, I finally had someone out to evaluate my house. He said that my house is not well sited for solar hot water (roof faces E-W rather than N-S), but well sited for solar hot air. Lots of wall space on gable end that faces south.

(Interestingly, I had received a quote for solar hot water from another installer based on some photos of my home and a Mapquest flyover. I wonder what would have happened when the installer came out to do the installation...)

Early on, we decided to get our contractor friend (Randy Vanier from Vanier Construction, Inc.) involved. He gave me a lift home a few weeks ago (flat tire on my bike!) when we were in the discussion phase. I mentioned our latest project, and he expressed interest in solar technology and asked me to share information with him. (I don't think he expected my enthusiasm for research!). He knows far more than I ever will about anything related to construction, renovation, etc. After the success with our porch addition, Bert trusts him implicitly. Not surprisingly, he posed some good questions at the site visit yesterday and discussed other options for future consideration as well (such as ways to move air in the home, ground mounted hot water).

Anyway, we are full steam ahead on the solar hot air project (I think). We are touring a home tomorrow with a solar hot air system (does it really work? what does it sound like? how does it look? etc.). I'm still waiting for another quote. Then we wait for our State rebate reservation number and I need to follow up on a few remaining questions from Randy. The kind people at Main Green Building Supply have been very patient with my many questions.

I will blog more as the project develops.



No comments: