By: Nancy Ghuman
This is a Green Energy Doors Open feature story. To learn more, visit greenenergydoorsopen.ca
Meet Tim, a sustainable homeowner and father of 3 young boys. Tim began the transformation of his 2-story Toronto home in 2007, when he first installed a solar thermal system to heat his water supply. This alone was able to help Tim cut his hot water bill in half.
In 2009, when Tim secured a micro-FIT contract with the Province of Ontario allowing him to generate and sell power back to the grid, he installed a 15 panel, 3.2 kW solar PV array on the roof of his house. In 2010, he continued to transform his home into a self-sufficient unit by installing solar-powered fans in the attic to help regulate the temperature, and is now able to generate one third of his home’s annual energy needs.
Through these experiences, Tim has naturally become an expert in residential solar power and an environmental leader within his community. He has consulted for many of his friends, colleagues and neighbours on solar installations for their own homes, and strangers will often stop and talk about his solar home project. Through speaking engagements at his local elementary school, Tim has been able to educate teachers, parents, and children about renewable energy, energy literacy and the importance of sustainable living. Tim feels that he is a catalyst for renewable energy, and hopes to demystify any misunderstandings that people may have about it.
So what made Tim want to transform his house into the coolest one on the block? His goodwill. He says, “I am worried about the environment and that my generation is going to go down very badly in history. Many have chosen not to do anything, despite being told repeatedly how we’ve messed up.” Tim’s sons have also been an inspiration to going green. At the family dinner table, you can often find them playing the guessing game of how many kWh of power their house was able to produce that day.
The journey continues for Tim’s green home. This year he plans to install an additional 1.5kW solar array that he hopes will connect through a net metering system. Net metering allows the customer to send electricity generated from renewable energy technologies to the distribution center for a direct credit towards their electricity bill, leading to even more savings. In addition, Tim plans to purchase his first electric vehicle in a few years’ time that will be at least partially powered by the sun, and he looks forward to the day when improvements in energy storage will make solar the norm. He believes it will be the “iPhone” of energy, giving people the freedom to control their energy supply and consumption.
For Green Energy Doors Open 2015, Tim will showcase his solar thermal system, the solar array on his roof, and other cool green upgrades around his house. In doing so, Tim aspires to influence and educate even more people on the benefits solar energy.
Nancy Ghuman is in her final year of her Master in Environmental Studies degree at York University. She is interested in Community Energy Planning, and is focusing her thesis research on developing an energy plan for a rural community in Costa Rica.