After fourteen very good years here we feel we're being called to go elsewhere. Time for one more adventure; time to leave our special place.
This unique, low-maintenance house has super-insulating straw bale walls, boasts an efficient passive solar design, gets its power and hot water from sun, and is easy to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A 7.5 KW MicroFIT system generates approx. $6,500 annually.
With three bedrooms (one with ensuite bathroom) and two large, full bathrooms, a spacious sunroom and a large attched double garage it can easily be run as an Eco B&B (as we successfully did). High-speed internet allows you to work from home, and 155 acres give you room to roam.
Fall 2008 the Nolalu eco Centre added a wind generator on the premises
Since the sun is not always shining on the solar panels it is nice to have a wind energy option as well. Most power comes in through the solar but at night or on dark days we have a little bit wind power.
Wear and Tear
The generator needs yearly repairs so we choose for a tower that can be lowered. We installed a gin pole to lower the tower. The NW Ontario gusty winds are an ongoing concern. The wind generator needs more maintenance than the photovoltaic system.
Our wind generator is rated for 1.3 kW, however, we had to shorten the blades due to damage so it is now rated closer to 1.0 kW.
The Nolalu Eco Centre has a 2.7 Kw Renewable energy system. Grid-tied battery based.
Power Back-up Plan A backup plan for our renewable energy system was needed.
We applied for Net Metering with Hydro One. The application process started at the beginning of 2008 and took 10 months. It shouldn't take so long but as we were the pioneers in net metering then in North Western Ontario, it did. Lots of paper work and patience are part of this long-term investment.
How does net metering work in our case:
When our batteries are full, our excess power goes back into the grid. That way we built a power credit (=Kwh credit) with hydro-One. Power credit is when more power is delivered to the grid than received from the grid.
This credit is good for 12 months, after 12 months the built-up credit dissolves and starts at zero again.
We still have a monthly hydro bill, but we do not or pay very little for used power depending on the season. We pay, like anybody else, a fixed amount or percentage for the other costs on the hydro bill like delivery fees, regulatory charges, depth retirement and administration fees. Of the fee's the delivery fee is always highest. Usually a 7x higher amount than our actual power usage amount.
In other words, the grid is the backup for our power incase we do not get enough power through our renewable energy system then our power comes from the grid. We could have chosen other options as back up like a generator, but it would be noisy and still would use gas which will get more expensive every year. We are happy we chose Net metering as back up.