An increase in the information about household hydro usage would do wonders to increase awareness among homeowners

An increase in the information about household hydro usage would do wonders to increase awareness among homeowners

Homefinder: The future of solar is here

Misconceptions abound about the readiness of residential solar energy

The region’s Solar Colwood and Solar CRD subsidy iniative has passed but the trend for homeowners  to consider installing solar hot water heating systems or solar photovoltaic panels is still growing, says Judith Cullington, former Colwood councillor who was behind the now-defunct Solar Colwood hot water program.

One of the preconceptions with solar that potential buyers get hung up on is the so called ‘payback period.’

“It really is an odd thing about renewable energy, that buyers (automatically) question what the payback period will be,” Cullington said.

The payback period is the return on investment, how much, and how long.

“No one asks what the payback period will be with a new car or a granite counter top, but with solar, everyone wants to know that.”

And the reality is it’s quite strong.

Cullington has solar photovoltaic at her house and on a sunny day it not only provides her house’s electrical needs, it supplies the excess energy to other houses in her neighbourhood. Because she’s tied into the grid, she gets that money back from her hydro bill.

“We’re very lucky in B.C., B.C. Hydro makes it very easy to install solar compared to other places in the world.

“Once people understand what a strong return on investment you can get I think we’ll see a greater number of people  installing solar,” Cullington said.

“Anyone who is looking to invest in their future should know you’ll get a very competitive nine per cent return on investment from a solar hot water system. For most of us that’s better than we’re going to get on a bank’s interest, a particularly solid investment if you’re planning on staying in the house.”

Solar Colwood results showed an average savings from the hot water system on energy bills of saving 44 per cent on the hot water bill. But misconceptions still exist.

“One of the biggest is ‘I can’t afford it,’” Cullington said, “which is interesting, because it means, you can’t afford to save money. Every house is different, and yes there is a money upfront but savings grow as hydro rates increase, and we’re seeing that they’re really increasing.”

There’s also mistruths about sun, of which Victoria has plenty enough of to enable a solar system.

reporter@saanichnews.com