Happy Earth Day 2022!

It’s Earth Day and Hammond Forever House has found itself nominated for a Maple Ridge Climate Champions award!

Nominee video

How exciting!

What a great time for a quick update!

Since my last post about laundry we have finally taken some steps to reduce our energy use and actually start producing power.

The current heating and domestic hot water set-up

Our fateful decision to achieve space heating via hot water pipes caused a problem since a typical hot water heater is not the cheapest appliance to run throughout the winter.

November 13, 2017 The old water heater connected to all those heating pipes.

The space-heating pipes run through the basement slab, under the main floor (stapled to the basement ceiling), in the floors of the bathrooms and finally to baseboards on the top floor. We did this because there was no way to get forced-air heating ducts up to the top floor.

We had thought to use the hydronic solar collectors that had been given to us to heat the water but when push came to shove, we realized that those collectors would produce a lot of hot water in the summer but very little in the winter which is the opposite of what we needed.

Rheem heat-pump hybrid water heater with electric back-up. Uses less electricity to heat the water.

My solution was a heat-pump water heater which is eligible for a BC Hydro grant. This unit uses the existing ducts which exhaust the stale air from the Heat Recovery Ventilator to take heat out of the air and pump it into the water we use to heat the house. The bottom line is that it’s a very efficient water heater and should save us energy and money.

Big Valley Heating helped make this ductwork which diverts exhausted air from the ventilation system through the heat pump

The other big leap forward was the solar panels.

With the help of Vancouver Renewable Energy (VREC) and Astro Plumbing and Heating we finally installed those solar collectors that have been in our basement for years. Instead of heating water to heat the house though, we are using them to pre-heat the water for domestic use.

Domestic hot water heating. The solar collectors pre-heat the storage tank (left) for the electric water heater (right)

We won’t need heat in the house during the warmer months, but we’ll always need domestic hot water for showers and washing.

Hydronic Solar Collectors at bottom heat water; Solar PV panels at top generate electricity

VREC also helped us install an array of Photo-voltaic Solar Panels and enter into a net-metering agreement with BC Hydro. Under this agreement, BC Hydro will accept the power we generate and reduce our Hydro bill accordingly. During the winter we can expect to buy power, but during the sunny months we will hopefully reduce our bill to zero or even below zero.

VREC installs PV solar panels

I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

How’s that for a quick update? I’ll do my best to post more soon!

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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