A reader sent me this email today. As his questions are so broad and useful I am posting them and offering up my reply.
“I stumbled across your Island Energy site and look forward to clicking through it in detail. Like yourself, my wife and I are from away and have fallen in love with PEI. We have been regular visitors for the past 19 years or so frequently staying with an old lobster fishing family my wife met many years ago. As my retirement from the Air Force nears we are seriously hoping we can relocate to PEI. As you can imagine, I have a long list of things to research before making the leap and I thought you might be able to point me in the direction of some good resources regarding energy efficient construction. I have no doubt we will be looking for an old island house to revive – possibly even the old family farm house of our friends who have moved into town (Kensington) as they get up in years. As I was looking at the old house I was silently ticking off all the things we would need to do to make it work – what a list. With energy costs in PEI as they are I know that has to be my primary focus before we start even thinking about fancy schmancy faucets and doorknobs. Luckily my Montana born wife eschews fancy schmancy to some degree so I’m safe in that regard.I look forward to hearing from you, at your convenience, and will start perusing through all the good stuff on your blog and associated sites.”
Good luck in your search. The best person that I have spoken to about the subject is Stephen Howard. Here is a link
What I have also learned though is the key is conservation – insulation is the best way to start. Older homes will likely benefit a lot by this – you can expect to save about 40% by cutting out leakage. Over time you will find a lot of detail on the blog about what is best.
There are few to no builders though who know a lot yet here. I think that the best thing is to get a handle on the “flows” of energy. Such as:
- Passive Solar – The position of the house re the sun – can you improve the solar loading etc – shade in summer – barrier on the north side – more glass on the south
- Leaks – insulation – your best opportunity
- Conservation – cut waste – no matter what new sources you install – there is no point unless you have idenitfied and cut back on waste
- Location – are you miles from anywhere that will force you to drive all the time? As an immigrant, I too lived in the country for the first few years – it was a romantic choice. But I found that we were very isolated – country folk are very tight and it is likely that you will not break in. We later moved into town for several years which is still very small but a lot more open and much cheaper to live in as we did not have to drive anywhere. We now live about 8 mins out of town – the best of both worlds
- Alternatives – Solar water heat and solar additional heat are good value and give an immediate return. High efficiency wood stoves are also great – but wood is a lot of work. Pellet stoves are coming along but you are vulnerable to loss of electrical power