A view of the solar panels on the roof, slightly obscured by snow. Lindsay Brommeland
My husband and I have lived in the McCauley neighbourhood since 2005. Though our community has its challenges, when we decided to build a Net Zero Home (meaning it produces as much energy as it uses) we knew there was no other neighbourhood in Edmonton in which we would rather invest. Compared to other mature neighbourhoods, McCauley’s lots are much more affordable for infill, and we can still enjoy the awesome people, shops, walkability, and proximity to downtown.
We spent some time looking for the perfect spot. After months of searching, we stumbled on our future lot for sale while out walking our dog. After purchasing the lot in September 2017 (and meeting our new neighbours in the process) our dream project had begun.
It was important to us to build a sustainable home using as little energy as possible to operate. The house is heavily insulated (very different from our old McCauley home, built in 1912) and has energy efficient windows, doors and appliances for a total EnerGuide rating of 100. There is no gas used in our house (so we pay no carbon tax). Instead, our main heat source is an electric Mitsubishi heat pump, and as someone who is always cold I can attest that it warms our house nicely!
The entire south side of our roof (pictured) is covered in solar panels that can provide enough electricity to run our house. Since battery technology is not advanced enough to be affordable currently, we are connected to the power grid to sell the power we generate. In winter, when sunshine hours are short, we will buy some electricity. In summer, when days are longer, we will be selling to the power company because we will generate more power than we will use. In theory, this means that over the course of a year the cost of running our home should balance out to $0. There is further incentive to go green in the form of rebates: our solar system cost about $30,000 and we have received rebates from the Province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton totaling $9600. We have recouped nearly 1/3 of the cost already!
Though our house is not quite finished, we are enjoying our new digs while still being able to stay in our old neighbourhood. We plan to buy an electric car in the future to further cut down on monthly costs and take advantage of our Net Zero home.