By: Colin Gu
Throughout its 17 year history, the REEP Green Solutions has spared no effort in providing environmental sustainability education and guidance in Waterloo Region. REEP offers a multitude of energy efficiency programs, including Home Energy Coach, RAIN Educational Workshops and student programs across the domains of residential, business and community outreach. The REEP House for Sustainable Living, located in the picturesque downtown Kitchener, showcases how a collection of modern-day technologies can cut down not only on utility costs, but also on environmental impacts for a typical century old home at a reasonable price. On September 10, REEP participated in the 2016 Green Energy Doors Open, a province-wide campaign showcases renewable energy projects, energy efficiency measures, green technologies and more. Danielle Laperriere, the Plan Manager of ClimateActionWR, presented on the changes people can make in daily lives, at home and at work, to contribute to the community carbon reduction target.
The REEP House is located at 20 Mill Street and is where sustainability is showcased. Almost all sections of the house have undergone a series of retrofits and several technologies and concepts, ancient and advanced, were implemented.
While entering the parking lot right next to the house, visitors will immediately notice that there are solar photovoltaic panels in the backyard. The five panels serving as awnings have a capacity of around 1.5 kW, which is enough to cover half of the electricity consumed in the house. Alongside is a small piece of green roof, providing extra insulation and trimming utility bills, while better capturing rainwater. At the north and east corners of the house stand two green cisterns with tubes attached to them to collect and store rainwater for lawn watering, rather than being wasted and flowing into the sewer.
Coming inside, visitors unfamiliar to the multitude of energy saving measures are impressed by the various technologies displayed and deployed in the house. In the insulation room on the second floor, an entire wall has been divided into sections to showcase the pros and cons of more than ten insulation materials as well as how much saving they can each generate.
Also, the double- and triple-glazed windows installed give visitors an idea of how much heat can sneak out through the window frame – it’s a hidden thermal bridge – and how that problem can be rectified.Another room on the second floor is a bathroom equipped with six different shower heads. Why are there so many of them? Because inefficient shower heads can exhaust a huge amount of water without being noticed while efficient ones won’t. By simply switching to an energy efficient (low-flow) shower head, homeowners can save up to $120 annually in water use reduction.Down to the kitchen on the main floor, a lot of energy can be saved if energy-star certified appliances are used. You may be surprised to find out that a modern dishwasher is able to use less water and soap than you do. How awesome is that?
The basement is where a bunch of ‘behind-the-scene’ stuff happens – a combination of high efficiency boiler, geothermal heat pump and heat recovery ventilator further cut down the amount of energy necessary to create a high level of indoor comfort. The geothermal heat pump utilises the soil temperature beneath foundation to heat the house during cold seasons, thus consuming less electricity. The heat recovery ventilator, or HRV, exchanges the heat between the fresh air coming from the outside and the used air going out. Brisk yet cold air in the winter is pre-heated and warm air in the summer is pre-cooled before being sent into different rooms in the house, so the heat energy is always recovered. What’s more, a grey water collection system, which stores the shower water, makes it possible to flush the toilet with less clean water.
The REEP House of Sustainable Living is truly a desirable combination of both indoor comfort and low energy consumption. To learn about REEP Green Solutions visit: http://reepgreen.ca/