What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Solatube Daylighting Systems With Ed Begley Jr.

During our last Florida vacation we stayed in a house that had 2 solar tubes. I blogged about the solar tubes as being great alternative lighting. Once installed the solar tubes bring free lighting to dark areas like hallways, bathrooms and other rooms. I calculated the cost of installation for each solar tube to be about $370 (DIY) to $500 (installed) so based on energy consumption alone the pay back period would be 37 years if installed. If you factor in the cost of the light bulbs the pay back period would go down to about $450. Clearly at today's electricity costs in our region the pay back period is not enough of an incentive to install solar tubes.

However, Hydro-One in Ontario has indicated most of the SmartMeters across the province will be activated by late June at which time the new Time of Use (TOU) hydro rates will go into effect. Essentially this means from 7 AM to 9 PM on weekdays year round except statutory holidays, we will be paying higher electricity rates. This time period is divided into 2 usages - high and medium depending on the season. As a result of these changes it becomes even more important to not use electricity you don't have to. Strategically placed the solar tube(s) will eliminate the use of electric lighting in certain areas of your home. The key concept to remember here that not using the electricity is better than reducing the electricity usage via energy efficient lighting. The solar tube(s) can be fitted with lighting for night use where they will function as a normal light so can replace an existing light fixture. This will allow us to take advantange of the lower electrical rates in the evening hours if necessary.

The solar tube(s) also improve the indoor comfort of your home. In northern areas such as ours where we see winter and several months of grey days, the solar tube(s) amplify and allow extra light into your home. This makes your home brighter and cheerier even though it is grey outdoors. It helps to ward off the winter blues so common in northern climate winter months and may even help to alliviate SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Here is a video of the solar tubes installed in Ed Begley Jr.'s house. Ed is an environmental activist who uses several eco-friendly methods in his home.

Garden Gnome