All Islanders know who Sara is. (For those of you who live Away - Sara is a much loved host and reporter at our local CBC TV station on PEI) Many of us followed her excellent series last year called Power Points where she discovered, on our behalf, many ways to save money by using energy better. I called her this week to find out what she has been doing personally to save money by using energy more thoughtfully .
I asked her why she was doing this.
"We had just finished building a new house and assumed that it would be much more energy efficient. But as I did the work on Power Points, I began to see that we had hardly scratched the surface. My contractor and we (George) did not know much at all about what we could have done.
We at least did the obvious things such as install energy efficient light bulbs. We have two high efficiency wood stoves and one of these is my lovely wood range. They make a big difference in reducing our oil consumption from about 4 tanks to maybe 2 a year."
Wood is a lot of work - how do you cope with that?
"George is my wood master chopper - he loves to stack it, chop it and carry it around. (I do too - the inner caveman in men) but I now wish we had known enough to install a Geothermal Heat Pump.
We wanted to do more. So we first looked at a small windmill but right now, they are not cost effective for a single household like ours. It takes too long to get your money back.
I interviewed Stephen Howard after the show and saw that with Solar heating for our water - we could get a good return for our investment. So we decided to take the plunge.
We are just completing putting in a bigger system than you Rob. (Sara and George have two panels) Teenagers live in the shower! We now need a sunny day and the plumber to charge the system and we are off. "
(Glycol flows though the panel back down to your basement where it heats your water. The system has to be filled when it is sunny and then it looks after itself. Even the pump is run off a solar panel of its own)
It's quite a lot of money Sara - As far as I know the CBC is not Hollywood, how did you make the financial commitment?
"The government loan program and the PST rebate helped a lot in making this decision. It was easy to access and fast. I was really pleasantly surprised.
So what is your take away Sara?
That it's not so much about SAVING money- even if it cost the same amount of money- it's worth it not to be dependent on oil, for a myriad of political and environmental reasons.
At least relying on the sun or wind, doesn't feel like you're undersomeone's thumb.
I wish that it was easier for regular people to find out what they can do. We could have done a lot more if we had started building our new house knowing what we do now. I also have found that this is very satisfying. I am saving money, investing in our future and it makes us feel good that we are doing our bit.