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6 things you need to know before going solar

October 26 2018, 11:28 AM

6 things you need to know before going solar

Is solar power the right option for your home or business? Due to the size of the initial investment to install solar at your property, there are a few important things you should consider. We’ve rounded them up here, so you can make the right decision based on your location, property type and lifestyle.

1. Conservation and Energy Efficiency

These are the most important steps.  People often overlook conservation and energy efficiency as a step in integrating renewable generation.  What good is it to pay a premium for a solar system if the energy is simply wasted?  Since most homes would use more than they produce, the first thing you should consider before looking at installing a solar array is “Can I reduce my energy use?” Have you done everything you can to reduce your annual energy consumption? As we’ll look at below, it can be much cheaper to save a kilowatt hour than it can be to produce one.

Cost to avoid purchasing a kWh :

  • Energy Conservation (insulation, air-sealing, changing habits, etc.) = $0.02/ kWh
  • Energy Efficiency (HVAC, lighting, etc.) = $0.07/kWh
  • PV Generation (Net Metering) = $0.12- $0.16/kWh
  • PV Generation + Storage = $0.20/kWh

As you can see from the numbers above, the biggest bang for your buck in terms of reducing your building’s energy use is found through conservation. Combined with energy-efficient improvements, you could see a big pay-back for your initial investment. We offer a suite of energy-efficiency programs for homes and businesses that help offset the costs of making these investments.

2. Types of solar

There are two categories of solar - Passive and Active Solar.

  •          Passive solar harnesses the natural energy from the sun to heat an area of your home. If you have a larger window in one of the rooms in your home, and you’ve ever felt the room get warmer on sunny days, you’ve likely already experienced the effects of passive solar. Passive solar is something to consider if you’re building a new home, where you can position the building toward the sun. Passive House Certified buildings consume up to 90% less heating and cooling than conventional buildings do.
  •          Active solar is the second, and most familiar type of solar. This type uses mechanical or electrical devices to store or convert solar energy into electricity or heat. The most common example of active solar are solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays you may see on roofs.  These arrays convert  solar energy to electricity for use in your home or business. Another example of active solar is thermal solar, which can be used for space or water heating. (use photo of solar wall for space heating and solar water heater for home water heating)

  
 
Solar wall used at Saint John Transit. This example of thermal solar is great for commercial buildings 
with large surfaces facing the sun.

 

Solar water heating. Great for large water heating loads like hotels and apartment buildings. 
Can also be used for seasonal use like cottages and pools.      

                               

3. Location/ Orientation

Just like with real estate, location is incredibly important when considering solar. Get familiar with how the sun moves around your building and pay attention to how much sun it gets each day. Solar might work for you if you have an unobstructed roof (no shade), with proper slope that faces anywhere from Southeast to Southwest. Or it might work if you have a barn or yard that is unobstructed by shade, or a hill on your property.

4. Roof Pitch

Do you know how steep the pitch of your roof is? In New Brunswick, there are a few pitches that would work for installing a solar PV array. They are highlighted in the image below. If your roof pitch falls outside of this range, don’t despair, as there are newer options for racking hardware that your installer may be able to recommend for lower pitched roofs.

5. Roof area

If you’re looking at  a solar system on your roof, you will definitely have to consider the size of your roof in addition to its pitch. The average roof only has enough space to accommodate an array of 4-12 kW. A  one kW solar PV array produces about 1,200 kWh of energy per year as long as it’s at optimal orientation and slope. A 4 kilowatt array could produce up to 4,800 kWh of electricity a year, while a 12 kilowatt array could produce up to 14,400 kWh of electricity a year.

11k array in New Brunswick

6. Your energy use

Do you know how much energy your home uses each year? New Brunswick homes  average between 9,000 and 25,000 kWh of electricity use annually. R-2000 homes are on the lower end, with existing homes not built to current codes are on the higher end of that spectrum. The majority of New Brunswickers use some form of electric heating, which can account for 50% of their total energy use for the year.  Looking at how many kilowatt hours of energy an array in New Brunswick could produce annually, most homes would use way more energy than they could produce.

 

Want to learn more about solar? Leave your question in the comments below to be considered for a future blog post!

 

Point Lepreau employees give a helping hand to Monarch Butterflies

September 18 2018, 11:03 AM

Point Lepreau employees give a helping hand to Monarch Butterflies

Every summer, Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station welcomes some unique visitors. It’s an ideal stop for Monarch Butterflies as they re-fuel for their 3,500 km journey to Mexico for the winter. The butterflies will feast on the fields of Goldenrod, Aster and Thistle, along with Milkweed planted by Station staff.

These plants are both a home and food source for Monarch butterfly eggs, and then the caterpillars which they become. This summer, these caterpillars ate through most of the planted milkweed at Lepreau, helping them grow quickly into their pupal (chrysalis) stage. But, while observing their progress, Point Lepreau Environmental Specialist, Carolyn Campbell noticed that a number of the caterpillars might struggle to find sufficient foliage and secure place to survive their pupal stage and devised a plan.

“After meeting the naturalist folks last year I took a huge interest in monarchs,” said Carolyn. “When I saw the 50+ caterpillars on the small patch of bare milkweed I knew we had to help. As a result of that so many other people are developing the passion that I now have to learn more and help out. It has been amazing to watch.”

In nature, only 10% to 15% of all these caterpillars survive long enough to reach their chrysalis stage.  The caterpillars typically attach themselves to the underside of a leaf, and then shed their striped caterpillar skin, revealing a turquoise-green colored camouflage which helps protect them against predators while they gradually change into their adult state inside this new cocoon-like state. To help these caterpillars beat the odds, Carolyn and a group of her peers at the Station worked quickly to build a special incubator for the caterpillars. By setting up this habitat for the caterpillars, Carolyn and team expect the likelihood of survival to be closer to 75% for these caterpillars.

Inside their new habitat, the caterpillars are set up on Milkweed clippings. Grated netting seals the top of the aquarium, providing a place for the larvae to weave a tiny silk pad that they’ll anchor the bottom of their abdomen to. They’ll hang here in this upside down position for 12 to 48 hours before extracting itself from its caterpillar skeleton and enter their pupal stage.

The caterpillars will remain in their cocoons for 8 to 15 days before they emerge as adult butterflies.

At first, the butterflies may be a bit weak. To help them get used to their new wings, Carolyn and team set up a special netting structure to place them to keep them safe while they get comfortable.

When they’re ready to take off, these butterflies will be tagged, with the help of the Jim Wilson of the Saint John Naturalists’ Club at their observatory on the Point, who has spent the last 12 years tagging these endangered butterflies. Once tagged, they will begin their journey to Mexico. Tagging helps provides data that is used to learn more about the migratory cycle and to protect it.

Point Lepreau is so important to the Monarch migration,” says Jim. “It has been a wonderful work with NB Power. We are very appreciative for this great relationship.”

The observatory at Point Lepreau is one of only two tagging stations in New Brunswick.

In 2017, Point Lepreau was designated an official Monarch Watch stop for these butterflies, due to all the undisturbed fields of pollinating species and the planted milkweed that the Monarchs need. Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration.

5 types of insulation you need to know to save energy at home

September 7 2018, 11:25 AM

5 types of insulation you need to know to save energy at home

When looking at energy-efficiency upgrades as part of your home renovation, upgrading your home’s insulation will give you the biggest return on investment. In New Brunswick, 50% of an average home’s energy use goes to heating. Only 6% of the housing stock in New Brunswick is insulated up to the current standards of the National Building Code. Choosing the right home insulation type for your renovation will help you save energy at home during both the heating and cooling seasons. Read on to learn more about the 5 types of insulation you need to know to help you save energy at home.

How insulation works

When we heat or cool our homes, and they aren’t well insulated, our homes become less comfortable as the heat finds ways to escape (in the winter), and enter (in the summer). Insulation creates a barrier between the inside and outside of your home to slow heat from leaving or entering.

When looking at upgrading your home insulation, be sure to look at the r-value of your insulation. The r-value varies based on the type, density and thickness of the material being used. The higher the r-value, the better it will perform.

Home insulation types

  1. Blown-in insulation
    This home insulation type is usually made of fiberglass or recycled paper fiber (known as cellulose.) It’s blown or sprayed into place and is ideal for hard-to-reach areas such as attics or wall cavities you don’t want to open up.



  2. Insulation batts
    Precut sections of fiberglass or rock wool insulation. Can be used in floors, walls, attics and ceilings.



  3. Insulation rolls
    Similar to insulation batts, but come in longer lengths- usually 20-40 feet. This insulation type is ideal for attics, floors and other areas where you need longer runs.



  4. Foam board insulation
    This insulation type comes in rigid panels made of polystyrene and polyurethane. Can be used to insulate almost any part of your home, especially exterior walls underneath your siding.


    Source: Brennan Builders


  5. Spray foam insulation
    Latex or polyurethane spray foam can be sprayed either with a can to help seal around windows and doors, or through special equipment in areas like basements and crawlspaces.



How much insulation do I need?

The best way to find out how much insulation you need to add to your home is to have a certified energy advisor come to your home to perform an energy evaluation. You can register through our Total Home Energy Savings program to set up and evaluation and receive money back for upgrading your home’s insulation.

We recommend upgrading your home’s insulation to reach the following r-values to make your home more comfortable and help you save on your bills.

  • Attic: R-60
  • Sloped/Cathedral Ceilings: R-30
  • Exterior/Main walls: R-30
  • Basement/Crawlspace Walls: R-30

Is insulation the next upgrade on your home renovation to-do list? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

Lepreau employees raise $2,850 for Bobby’s Hospice of Greater Saint John

September 7 2018, 10:10 AM

Lepreau employees raise $2,850 for Bobby’s Hospice of Greater Saint John

The 4th Annual Doug Wallace Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament was held on August 11 in Saint John. The slo-pitch Tournament is an annual fundraising initiative led by Point Lepreau staff in memory of Doug Wallace, well known union member and long-time NB Power employee.

Eight teams made up of NB Power employees and community members participated in the Tournament, raising a total of $2,850 for Bobby’s Hospice of Greater Saint John.

Team Security came in first place with team Operations coming in second.

In first place was Security – Back Row from left to right: Anna-Marie Adams, Keith Garnett, Dylan Jones, Vinnie Hosford, Shannon Tapper, Chris Dempsey, Vance Crozier Bottom row left to right: Katrina MacKinnon, Joe Mahoney, Litsa Dares, Keri Savoie​

In 2nd place was Operations – Back Row from left to right: Glen Beers, Carolyn Davis, Ted McWilliams, Marc Myles, Darren Logan, Ashley Logan, Dwayne Logan Bottom row from left to right: Katelyn Denton, Randy O’Donnell, Amy Raynes, and in front the official OPS Batboy Nicholas O’Donnell (9) Not Shown: Preston Boulos, Randy Davis

NB Power employees Randy O’Donnell and Adrice Bordage worked together to organize the tournament. “We’re very proud to have had this event take place and we look forward to doing it again next year,” said Randy.

Bobby's Hospice is a palliative care home that provides 24-hour medical care and support to people living with a terminal illness and grief support for those coping with the loss of a loved one.

Why LED’s flicker- and how to stop it

June 28 2018, 15:42 PM

Why LED’s flicker- and how to stop it

Have you installed LED light bulbs only to have them start flickering on and off? Well, you’re not alone.

LED fixtures/bulbs are operated by an electronic driver in which some are more susceptible to noise, {voltage fluctuations}, than others depending on the quality of the fixture/bulb.

So what’s causing the flicker? It could be a number of things. But most commonly, LED bulbs may flicker or dim in your home when there are voltage fluctuations in your home’s wiring.

When electrical loads turn on and off in your home, this creates a change in voltage levels, which may cause the LED lights to occasionally dim or flicker.

But there are other reasons that may be causing your lights to dim or flicker. Let’s take a look:

  1. Inrush current from appliances

    Certain appliances in your home need more power when they first turn on. The inrush current of motors within appliances causes the voltage to drop and if the lights are on the same circuit you may see dimming of these lights. This is true for many types of lighting including LED.

    You should already have appliances on separate breakers such as your fridge, stove, washer and dryer. If this isn’t the case then a certified electrician should be called to investigate further.
  1. Loose wiring or loose bulb

    Another thing that commonly causes flickering in LED bulbs is loose connections or circuits. This is easy to fix. Just screw the LED bulb in tighter to see of that fixes the problem.  If there’s a lot of dust in the fixture, first blow out the connection points to remove the dust before putting the bulb back in. 

    There may also be loose wiring at the fixture connection point. A certified electrician will disconnect power to the fixture and re-tighten the wiring to make sure it’s tight and secure. If there are numerous light fixtures dimming at the same time then the electrician will investigate at the panel and/or junction box to ensure that all connections are properly secured.
  1. Dimmer compatibility

    Some existing and even new dimmer switches may not be compatible with LED lighting or you may have a non-dimmable light in a dimmable fixture. Carefully reading the labeling on your bulbs and fixtures and making sure you have the right bulb for the job can fix this. Dimmers also have wattage ratings which differ depending on the type of light source whether it is LED, incandescent, etc. This affects the number of light fixtures on a dimmer depending on the individual wattages of each. The practise of ganging dimmers or switches within the same back box will also further de-rate the wattage the dimmer can safely handle. A certified electrician will determine by referring to the Canadian Electrical Code the correct load permitted.

    Be sure to buy high quality with recognized certification (CSA, ULc etc.), ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs when upgrading your lighting in your home. 

 

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