Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Solar Energy Society: Homeowner's Perspective

Tomorrow (October 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm), come out to hear: The Home Owner's Perspective- Solar Power Systems

A Forum for Solar System Owners at MacEwan University- I'll be talking about our own experience with our 2012 data for PV power generation and our grid-tied system!

I purposely added the photo with snow on the modules- as even with our steep slope,
I wanted to show how some days the snow just sticks! (and I have to brush it off!)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Still getting the front yard in shape! Or, Permaculture, Part 428.

So, it's been quite an adventure, this permaculture gardening...  I am happy to say things have sprouted. Things have grown and things have died. We've also have our first harvest of lettuces, basil, oregano, swiss chard, peas, bush beans, cilantro, parsley, chilli peppers, more lettuce!, alpine currents, raspberries, "mini" strawberries, and a squash. Not sure why the pumpkin aren't doing so well. And I'm also far behind weeding duties. 

Here's the photo diary of our summer front yard garden:

Shelaine & Serena planting berries and tomatoes. June 23, 2013.
June 23, 2013.  Watering the garden. I wish we had our rain barrels installed!

July 3, 2013- the field pea border has sprouted!

July 3, 2013: Letteces & herbs are sprouting too!

July 7th, 2013. Taking shape!  & the primordial herb spiral waiting...

July 21, 2013. Things are really beginning to sprout! Pumpkins, beans, potatoes!

July 21, 2013. Unfortunately, the straw on the left sprouted, taking over the strawberry patch!
Always ask for non-seeded straw bales. : (

The peppers are doing well in the southwest corner. & Berries are making up our "hedgerow"

Look close! You can see peppers growing!

August 18, 2013~ Herb spiral build day!

Mike wants this to be the mother of all herb spirals. Okay then...

Cardboard edging on the spiral.

I'm hoping I've found enough bricks!

First tier of cardboard complete!

First tier of bricks laid out.

Lots of stamping gravel & sand base down!

Stamp! Stamp! Stamp!

As far as we got on the first day. Thanks Mike & Shelaine for helping make this happen!

& Voila! the 2013 herb spiral with the token lemon balm plant.

So, anyone wanna' let us raid their perrenial herbs?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Permaculture Blitzing has begun!

This summer is the year we start landscape work! My friend Mike Johnson helped us plan and coordinate the front and side yards. He completed his Permaculture Design Course and wanted to get some practical experience. He told us how we can get the help of others wanting to assist with a permaculture "blitz," where volunteers come by and help out with the installation. And it was pretty good, even though the first blitz took place on Father's Day weekend.

So, we had a good group on Saturday: Shelaine, Janet, Kathie, Sharla, Chris & Dennis helped us dig a trench for the weeping tile that would bring water to the "keyhole" gardens. The clay on site was particularly brutal to dig through. And it didn't help that it rained off and on. I couldn't believe how people were still motivated to push on! Mike and I worked up until about 5pm. I was so sore...

The next day, we had Tara, Bon, Hank, Mimi and Duncan come by to finish up the keyhole gardens, start on the herb spiral and put in the mulch over the weeping tile in the trench. We began to put down some straw for the strawberry patch and put down some compost in select places. Unfortunately, the topsoil didn't show up until Monday, but we were too tired to have done any more work Sunday. What a good start!

We now have most of our foreseeable weekends trying to finish this crazy permaculture yard up.

keyhole gardens with herb spiral to the top left.
Digging the trench!

keyhole with cardboard weed barrier.

Installed keyhole gardens (looking down from our balcony).

filling the trench with mulch, covering the weeping tile.

Creating the strawberry patch!

So, this is strawberry spinach already growing in the yard.

Mike puts his roof rack to good use!

King of the compost heap!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

TED talk by Catherine Mohr- low energy house!

I quite enjoyed this quick TED talk by Catherine Mohr on how she, in her awesome, nerdy way, built a green home.  Cool.

TED talk: Catherine Mohr builds green:  click here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's been a while... But I've got our 2012 DATA!

I have finally tabulated a years worth of energy utility (energy) consumption, PV production and the fun part, Net electricity (energy) use.  We had hoped that our PV system would have provided 40% to 50% of our needs, based on having the amount of PV (4.8 kW), and expecting an average weather year for temperature and sunny days.

It did not.


So here are the numbers:

Total Utility Electrical Use (how much we bought from our utility company): 12,683 kWh

Total PV Generation of our grid-tied system: 5,352 kWh

Total PV power returned to the grid (excess power we did not need): 2,056 kWh

Net Beverly Heights house consumption: 15,978 kWh.

So, we were at 33% in chasing net zero, for 2012.

And we had a fairly mild, sunny year.

Not this like year~ where our winter has already been pretty brutal on the lack of sun and a good number of cold days.  If it is sunny, regardless of temperature, our house IS comfortable, heating up passively to over 20 C. The combination of no sunny days and cold weather really hurts- as we need to burn a lot of wood and/or turn on our electric heaters to keep comfortable.

But the good news is we consumed far less than our Hot2000 modelled consumption for space heating, hot water and appliance loads which predicted the total at 17,260 kWh.

And we consumed significantly less than a typical home that is the same square footage: 27,595 kWh, or 42% less!

In due course, we would like to add more PV and get to net zero. The hard part is known when we actually see/get an average weather year.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

First World Problems

Brushing a bunch of snow (almost 10 cm!!!) on our steeply angles solar modules is definitely a First World problem.  Over the last few days, we did get a good dump of snow!  So, as it looked hopeful today for some sun, I spend 20 mins brushing off the snow so we could generate a few Watts...

 Hopefully, the sun will melt the rest of the snow/ice.

So glad I made the solar modules accessible
from our roof deck!

Come on, Sun!  Burn off the morning fog!

This was the temperature at 8:30am on Nov. 10th, 2012.

And this was the indoor temperature: a balmy 16 degrees C.
On days like this, we're hoping for the sun to come out and warm house!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pavers! But not quite done...

Man, this summer sure didn't work out to get our landscaping in. Between the rain, work and, well, the honest desire to do other things, we have not been quite as productive as we'd have liked.

So, a small celebrations occurs with every little bit of work done.

This week, we finally have installed permanent pavers to the basement suite door!  Yay!
So our tenant will not have to "walk the plank" with the danger of falling in mud every time it rains...

Now, only if we weren't 2 pavers short of getting it all done.  Sigh.