Going Net Zero: When a Home Gives As Much As It Takes
December 18 2015, 09:16 AM
New Brunswick homeowners are starting to get excited by the idea of producing some, or all, of their home’s energy needs. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are being explored as options become increasingly accessible. Solar panels are popping up on rooftops, and small wind turbines on commercial and residential properties are turning up throughout New Brunswick, as more New Brunswickers are talking about renewables. And why not? It is exciting to lighten one’s energy footprint, by making your home more energy efficient and by generating enough energy onsite. When your home can produce as much energy on-site as it uses, on an annual basis, this is what’s called a net zero home.
So how does it work?
Net zero homes use a renewable energy system like solar panels or wind turbines to produce as much energy as they use on a yearly basis. Net zero homes, unlike ‘off-grid’ homes, are still connected to ‘the grid’ – the province’s electricity distribution system- and are net metered with NB Power for the times when the panels don’t produce enough energy to meet current demand.
Alternatively, with NB Power’s net metering program, credits will accumulate for the homeowners when a surplus of power is generated and put back on the grid. This means that your monthly bill will reflect the difference between the total amount of your electricity consumption and the electricity your system produces over the billing period. That is the “net amount” of electricity.
One great benefit to being a net zero home is that the home’s renewable energy system can be sized to meet the average daily energy usage, rather than its peak demand. (Think of the difference in energy demand during a cold snap in the middle of winter, versus an early spring or late fall day!) Many net zero homeowners also take pride in and enjoy the fact that any surplus energy produced from their energy system goes back on the grid and supplies their neighbours’ homes with renewable energy.
The first step before even considering a renewable energy source is making sure your home or building is as energy efficient as possible. It is more cost effective to save energy through maximizing building efficiency than installing renewable energy sources; but both will help the environment and lower your power bill. If you’re interested in making upgrades to your home, make sure to look into NB Power’s Total Home Energy Savings Program here.
NB Power’s Net Metering program partners with customers to facilitate small-scale, environmentally sustainable generation for homes that are still connected to ‘the grid’ and deals with a mix of homes and business, and small scale renewable generation technologies.
What do you envision for your home? Do you plan to invest in renewables or make your home more energy efficient in the future? Tell us below!