There are two types of solar energy that we can use to heat our homes: passive and active solar heating.
Passive Solar Heating makes use of the sun’s heat without any equipment (like solar collectors). We rely mainly on windows to take advantage of this energy, but can also use walls, floors, roofs and landscaping elements to provide additional control (especially in the summer when cooling is preferred). Passive solar heating methods can also maximize the use of the sun’s light (instead of relying on electricity to light your home).
Active Solar Heating uses solar collectors to collect the energy and then redistributes it from the roof to the rest of the house using pumps and fans. Sometimes the heat is transferred to a storage system to be used later.
Applications for Active Solar Energy:
- Space heating
- Hot water heating (including commercially, like laundries and carwashes)
Solar Energy Reference Links:
- Drake Landing Solar Community
- Government of Alberta information on Solar Energy
- Solar Alberta’s information on Passive Solar Energy
Wind power is created when the wind blows against blades of a turbine, causing a shaft to rotate, turning a generator and producing electricity.
For Albertans, farms may be the best place to operate wind turbines due to the space required. Things to consider about installing your own turbine are:
- Electricity requirements
- Installation costs
- Interconnection costs to the grid
- Availability of wind
Wind Energy Reference Links:
- Small Wind Energy (info on installing a small wind system)
- Download David Suzuki’s article on Wind Power (.pdf)
Geothermal Energy is acquired by using the earth’s stored energy to heat and cool entire buildings. Simply put, pipes are put into the ground and the fluid within them is either warmed or cooled by the earth’s heat (first principle of thermodynamics) and then that fluid warms or cools the house.
Alternatives to conventional natural-gas heating in Alberta will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You can find links of geothermal suppliers here, who will be able to do an economic assessment.
Geothermal Energy Reference Links:
- Alberta Government Geothermal information page
- Geothermal Energy information (David Suzuki)
Household Energy Efficiency
Tips on making your home more energy efficient are plentiful on the web. In addition to providing links below, here is a list of ways to help. Above all, learning to use less (and establishing good habits) will do the most for your energy consumption.
- Get an energy audit done on your home (which will show you where you’re using energy that you don’t need to be and give you tips on conserving depending on your needs and situation)
- Lower your thermostat by just a few degrees in the winter (to 21C when you’re relaxing, 18C when you’re sleeping and 15C when you’re away), and raise your air conditioning to 25 C or higher
- Install a programmable thermostat to set these temperatures at key times of the day automatically
- Take showers instead of baths; install a low-flow showerhead
- Turn lights off when you’re not in the room
- Use appliances in non-peak hours: 8pm to 8am; upgrade to EnergyStar approved appliances.
Household Energy Efficiency Reference Links:
- Calculate your energy requirements (pdf)
- Tips for efficiency on the farm.
- Farm Machinery Cost Calculator.
The Government of Canada offers all kinds of incentives and rebates to help make your home more energy efficient.
Energy Efficiency Reference Links:
- David Suzuki’s tips to maximize energy efficiency
- More David Suzuki tips on conserving energy
- Info on Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
- Government of Alberta: Reduce your emissions, conserve energy
- Energy Efficiency on the Farm
- Government of Canada Resource page for Home Improvement (Grants)
Biofuels, or more commonly known as biodiesel, is a non-toxic, biodegradable fuel created from vegetable oil or animal fat. Materials for creating biodiesel are often obtained from by-products of other industries (tall oil from pulp and paper processing, or waste cooking oil from restaurants). Tailpipe emissions are only slightly lower than regular diesel, but overall the net environmental effects are 60 to 100% less, taking into consideration the environmental production costs and that converting certain waste products into biodiesel keeps the waste out of the landfill.
Biofuels Reference Links:
- Government of Canada’s Biodiesel information page
- ecoEnergy for Biofuels program
- Renewable Fuels FAQ (Government of Alberta)
- GROWTH Alberta Biofuels Report 2006
See the results of the Northern Alberta Broadband Preparedness Project.
GROWTH Alberta Economics
Browse highlights from GROWTH Alberta’s economic scene – plenty to look forward to.
Get to know the regions, towns and people that make up GROWTH Alberta.