Efficiency Nova Scotia Demonstration Homes Last Weekend for Open House
Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 10:19PM

Energy efficiency is top-of-mind when homeowners are considering building or buying a new home. This year, the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association, in partnership with Efficiency Nova Scotia presented two of the most energy efficient homes in Nova Scotia – the Efficiency Nova Scotia Demonstration Homes to demonstrate what is possible for homeowners who want to make energy efficiency a priority in new home construction

There have been several questions in regards to photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal panels throughout the weeks the homes have been opened. The homes are close to net-zero, which means the home is able to produce as much energy as is required to operate, which is large part due to the on-site renewable energy sources the homes use. The reason two different panel systems are used on the demonstration homes is because they each have a different purpose. The PV system generates electricity and the solar thermal water panels heat hot water.

When speaking with Caleb Howden from Denim Homes, one of the Efficiency Nova Scotia Demonstration Homes builders, he explains the two systems and how they tie into net metering as follows:

Solar Thermal Water

The solar thermal water panels do not generate electricity, they are there to specifically heat water. Many homes use electric water heaters to create hot water, which accounts for approximately 20% of the home’s electricity demand. The water panels absorb the sun’s energy and transfers it into a liquid (usually glycol), and this liquid is circulated through a heat exchanger in your hot water tank, heating the water rather than electrically heating cold water from the street (or well). When the sun is shining, you are provided with sufficient hot water for your home, and will probably only need the heating element in your tank on the coldest days of the year.


Photovoltaic (PV) systems generate electricity. The Sackville home has the PV system Grid-Tied interacting with the utility. The PV panels mount on your roof, converting sunlight directly into electricity. That electricity is used to power the house and whatever is not used is directed to the grid. This is called a grid-tied PV system, utilizing Net Metering.

Net Metering

Net metering allows Nova Scotia Power customers to connect their home to the utility’s distribution grid through a meter that measures electricity flows in two directions. In such a system you have a meter that allows the electricity your panels are generating to flow on to the grid, crediting your account. Net metering customers will receive payment for the amount of excess electricity generated. The Net Metering program provides Nova Scotians with a risk-free way to meet their own energy needs from renewable sources while still having the security of being able to draw from the grid when needed.

This is the last weekend the homes will be open to the public. For more information on the details and locations of the homes visit www.demonstrationhomes.com or phone 450-5554.

Article originally appeared on Nova Scotia Home Builders Association :: Providing quality, affordable housing choices for Nova Scotians (http://nshomebuilders.ca/).
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