The energy detective

Reducing power consumption is easier than you think

What if we told you that with a few simple changes, you could cut your household electricity consumption in half? It’s possible, and Ron Kube is living proof.

Kube recently installed a solar-power system on his St. Albert home. But before going solar, he checked to see how much electricity his home was using. He was shocked to discover his family was using 70 per cent more than the Alberta average of 7,200 kilowatt hours per year – they were energy hogs.

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Solar 101

Harnessing the sun for all your energy needs

St. Albert’s Ron and Carole Kube had never known anyone with a solar-powered home. Then, in 2014, Ron Kube read a story in the newspaper about a household that installed a solar array. He was surprised to learn they were his former neighbours.

“In fact, the guy was Craig Dickie – he used to live across the street from us,” said Kube. “And I was so excited that I called up Craig and I said, ‘can I come over to the house and see the solar system?’ And he said, ‘yeah, sure, come on over.’ ”

The moment Kube saw the system, he was hooked.

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Living architecture

Green roofs add a touch of nature to the concrete jungle

Great thinkers have always known that nature is essential to the human spirit. Perhaps that is why more and more architects, designers and builders are choosing to create green retreats in their designs, including rooftops that allow the eye to drink in nature’s beauty.

“There are just so many benefits to green roofs,” said Kerry Ross, one of Canada’s leading green roof experts and the first accredited green roof professional in the country. She spearheaded a number of “living architecture” projects, including the eco-roof at the University of Calgary Research Park and the green roof initiative at Calgary City Hall.

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Deep energy retrofits

Are you living in your future net-zero home?

Have you ever dreamed of living in a net-zero home? According to Peter Darlington, that dream might be closer than you think. In fact, you might already be living in your future net-zero home.

Darlington runs Solar Homes Inc., a Calgary company specializing in renovating existing homes into net-zero homes, which produce as much energy as they consume. Net-zero might seem like a remote, ambitious target, but Darlington insists it’s more attainable than you might think. In fact, his first green renovation project was on his own 1980s-era home.

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Getting yourself in hot water

Choosing the best high-efficiency water heater

A typical hot water heater accounts for about one-fifth of the energy used in most Canadian homes.

Choosing the right hot water heater, therefore, can have a huge impact both financially and environmentally – especially as energy prices and carbon levies continue to rise.

Many of us still choose conventional, gas-fired hot water tanks because they’re cheapest – but are they really? The initial price of your hot water heater can represent as little as 12 per cent of the overall cost over its lifespan. The other 88 per cent is energy.

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