PEI Energy Expands its Coverage to $35,000 – 3,000 more households

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — A rise in income limits will make more Islanders eligible for energy efficiency programs aimed at low-income households, Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown says.

The minister said changes approved this week by Treasury Board will increase the household income threshold from $30,000 to $35,000. The increase would mean roughly 3,500 more Island families would be eligible for assistance than under the $30,000 limit established in 2006.

“Since the Office of Energy Efficiency was established in early 2008, staff have been able to process applications from about 1,200 low-income households and to help these families gain more control over energy use and energy spending,” said the minister. “Expanding the eligibility for these programs will allow us to help even more homes where energy costs can be a financial challenge.”

OEE programs targeting low-income households include:

• PEI ecoEnergy Audit Assistance Program for Low-Income Households

• PEI Energy Efficiency Loan Program – for Low Income Households

• PEI Home Energy Low-income Program (HELP)

More information on the Office of Energy Efficiency and its programs is available on the Internet at


A great source for all who want to learn more about wood heat

How Does Wood Burn in a Stove

Thumbnail image for How Does Wood Burn in a Stove

With an understanding of these basic characteristics of heat, we now turn to the phenomenon of combustion and observe what happens when we ignite a log of wood. It is important to understand combustion because the many types of woodstoves are made to take advan­tage of the various processes which occur in an actively […]

Read the full article →
Multi Fuels Stoves is a neat site with a lot of good information about all aspects of heating with wood. Mainly advice soft sell

Time for a heat with wood strategy

PEI’s schools are very vulnerable to any increase in the price of oil. (Here is a link to the risk for schools) So of course is PEI itself.

How can we reduce this risk? How can be get ahead of the risk and create a whole new economy that regular Islanders can participate in?

Stop heating with oil!

One of the smartest things we did on PEI was to kick start wind energy by deliberately creating enough scale at the outset by the Provincial & Federal Governments taking their share of the power from wind. This guarantee of use, built the foundation.

We can do this with wood heat as well. All Public Buildings could shift from oil to wood.

This chart shows PEI’s Energy use and costs in the ramp up in 2008. Nearly $200 million, A THIRD OF PEI’S INCOME TAX REVENUES – is spent on heating oil. While prices are lower today (71 cents vs 1.09) we can be sure that in the future even $1.09 will look like a bargain.

What if we started to use this same model with PEI’s Public Buildings? What if we converted from oil to Wood?

This is easier than you might think. Here is Dick Arsenault taking us around the test of a new Pellet/Chip furnace at the Ecole Evangeline in Western PEI.

You will see that such a furnace

  • Can be easily installed
  • Can be fed easily
  • Has NO emissions
  • Is easy to clean
  • Can save a school about $100,000 a year

There are 2 new schools that will be built in the next year. There is federal money.

If we went full tilt in the public sector and went wood (pellet and Chip) we would create the support systems and the local businesses that we could then lever to help with the rest of PEI’s oil heating.

Lots of real jobs that are not going to go away will be created.

If we can pull this off, we would have to do a lot of work on conservation as well that also leads to many new jobs, then $200,000,000 at least will stay in the hands of Islanders.

The biggest tax break ever.

PEI will also be on track to start to reduce its dependency on oil and the outside.

Oh but Rob there is not enough wood for that!

Yes there is. Here is a snip from Roy MacMullin’s great piece on this question:

Looking at a wood alternative, we would have to cut 2.8 million cords of wood to replace this volume of oil. (For all of Atlantic Canada) To compare, the existing residential usage of hardwood in New Brunswick is roughly 500,000 cords each year.

Using wood as a solution requires an additional 332 thousand cords to be harvested annually to displace the New Brunswick fuel oil requirement. (Roy lives in NB) This shouldn’t be a problem with mills shutting down. Pellets and briquettes can use softwood that is compressed to provide the same heat density of hardwood, with less moisture content.

Wood heat could very quickly meet the requirements of a conversion program. The reduction of oil purchases of 943,000 barrels would retain $137 million a year in the New Brunswick economy as opposed to sending it offshore. Over the years, this would be the equivalent of investing over a billion dollars in the local economy.

If Efficiency NB extended their offer of $2,250 to oil heat customers converting to wood, it would go a long way toward alleviating the problems of oil prices. The cost of the providing stoves would be $135 million (60,000 x $2,250), probably spent over a number of years.

The use of EPA rated stoves ensures an efficiency of 70% and emissions that are less than 10% of previous generation stoves. In urban areas, the use of pellet or briquettes may have to be mandatory with round wood as a rural option.

We are at the beginning of an emergency, perhaps a low intensity war. This change from low cost energy to high cost energy will sap our resources, leave us poor and eventually cold. If we fail to adapt to the heating oil challenge as well as the other aspects of peak oil, we lose.

This is surely the easiest political choice before us? There is no downside.

Could our schools do more to save energy and hence money?

This district in the US has saved $600,000 that is a lot of money.

OHOES — The Cohoes City School District has saved more than $600,000 with an energy-conservation program and expects to save nearly $3 million by 2015. Five buildings in the district were recently awarded the federal government’s Energy Star label which is presented to the most energy-efficient school buildings in the country, officials said Thursday.

The district was also named an Energy Star Leader for its overall energy savings.

“We are very pleased to receive this recognition,” said Superintendent Robert Libby. “Our energy conservation efforts are saving taxpayer dollars and allowing the district to focus its financial resources on its core mission, student education. During difficult budget times like these, it is critically important that we be able to do just that.”

Since the district started participating with the Energy Education’s energy-conservation program in 2004, it has cut energy consumption by about 30 percent, officials said.

The schools have saved $616,397 and the environmental impact on just electricity savings is equal to taking 332 cars off the road or planting 39,339 trees.

The schools that received the Energy Star label included the Cohoes High School, Cohoes Middle School, Harmony Hill School, Van Schaick Grade School, and Page Avenue School.

School buildings must rate in the top 25 percent nationwide for energy efficiency to receive the label, officials said.

How to install cheap window insulation


You don’t need to buy new windows – you can use inexpensive film and do the job your self – here is a great step by step guide for how to do this.

Eartheasy – A great resource for better living

Eartheasy is a wonderful, rich and well executed site about sustainable living. It offers information, activities and ideas which help us live more simply, efficiently and with less impact on the environment. Here are some examples – have fun!
Enhance your backyard, create a fun project for the family and contribute to local wildlife conservation – develop your own Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Young children especially can learn the basics of nature appreciation through their own window into the natural world.
“This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.” — Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008. Here are six ways we can start building a sustainable future for ourselves and the world.

Compost is the single most important supplement you can give your garden soil. Composting is a simple way to add nutrient-rich humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil.

One-pot cooking used to be the exclusive domain of bachelors, campers and college students just moved away from home. Here are a few variations on the “one-pot” theme, which broaden the possibilities for creative cuisine, while maintaining the simplicity and energy savings of one-pot cooking.

The cost of clothing goes way beyond the price tag. The environment is impacted by the growing of fibers for textiles, the manufacture and distribution of clothing, and even the care and maintenance of garments. Here are some tips to help reduce the environmental costs of clothing.

The World War II home front was the most important and broadly participatory green experiment in U.S. history. Is it a model we should use today?

You can also visit the Eartheasy Shop to find products suitable for energy efficiency, water conservation, composting, gardening, food security, natural lawn care and pest control, and lighting.

Obama going big on Insulation

Little PEI is in the vanguard – here is a snip from the New York Times that talks about a major initiative in this area for the Obama administration. What if we pushed harder here? There is about $200 million in heating costs to work on – this is really a tax on Islanders. Imagine the difference if we could reduce this by 20% – $40 million more in Islanders hands – that’s $1,000 a household in savings!

Correct those flaws, and heating and cooling costs are typically cut by 20 percent to 30 percent, a saving of more than $1,000 annually in some households. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions and the strain on the national electric and gas systems are reduced.

About 140,000 houses will be weatherized with public help this year, a total that President-elect Barack Obama has promised to raise to one million, to reduce energy consumption and cut energy costs for households and taxpayers, who often absorb those costs for the poor. This would represent a historic shift in emphasis for the federal and state governments, reducing poor people’s energy bills instead of helping to pay them.

Weatherizing a million homes annually would also create about 78,000 jobs for a year, according to the federal Energy Department’s weatherization project director, Gil Sperling.

The current 140,000 annual total creates about 8,000 jobs, Mr. Sperling said.

Although that is a tiny fraction of the five million green-collar jobs that Mr. Obama promised in the campaign, “it’s a decent number of jobs per dollar spent,” said Harry J. Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington. “The work is productive, and the jobs are at a mix of skill levels.”

Congress added $250 million to the weatherization budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Energy experts say that money could be effectively spent in low-income households and in households that have no need of public assistance.

In the forgotten corners of tens of millions of American attics and basements, near the old Trivial Pursuit games and out-of-season clothes, are flaws that waste vast amounts of energy. Buildings often resemble colanders. Leaking ducts bleed heated air into areas outside living space. Cold-air returns suck in dust and mold from attics, or gas and oil fumes from garden equipment stored in basements. Long-neglected air filters clog, forcing furnaces or air-conditioners to work harder.

Mr. Obama’s choice for energy secretary, Steven Chu, told a group in Washington in June that an extra $1,000 could make a new house energy efficient “but the American consumer would rather have a granite countertop.”