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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 12:50

Swift Current home an energy champion in western Canada

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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When Lyle and Debbie Simonson were planning to build a new home in Swift Current, they wanted to have an environmentally-friendly place, but they never thought it would be the most energy-efficient home in western Canada.

The retired farming couple from Neidpath received their 2012 R-2000 certificate during an official celebration on Sept. 18, which took place on the front lawn of their Prestwick Drive home.
The almost 2,200 square feet residence was constructed by local homebuilder Evolve Developments in accordance with the recently updated R-2000 energy performance standards.
“It certainly was a surprise,” Lyle said. “We weren’t expecting this house to meet these standards. That was not the intention when we started.”
When they talked to Evolve Developments about their new home, the Simonsons were interested in a geothermal system. As a result, a 3.45 kW grid-tied solar system was also included in the design.
“Once all that was incorporated on top of my standard features, we were already into the R-2000 features that you needed,” homebuilder Steven Lacey explained. “I didn’t mention it to the homeowners; it was a surprise.”
Since moving into their new home two months ago, the Simonsons have discovered the benefits of their well-insulated home.
“It’s a very tightly built house,” Debbie said. “It looks just like an ordinary house, except that it’s extremely comfortable. … Hopefully our (carbon) footprint is a little bit smaller.”
According to Lyle, their original decision to install a geothermal system was motivated by a desire to reduce their carbon footprint. Out on the farm, they used solar heat for the swimming pool and they were looking at installing a wind generator before their retirement.
The geothermal system pumps heat from the ground during winter and transfers heat back to the ground during summer months.
“It’s hard to imagine that just out in the backyard there are 12 wells, 120 feet deep,” Lyle said.
Other features of this 2012 R-2000 home include high-performance sprayfoam insulation, in-floor heating, high-efficiency triple glazed windows, dual flush toilets, a heat recovery ventilator, a tankless condensing water heater and Energy Star lighting and appliances.
While these are all additional expenses to the cost of building a new home, Lyle felt it is a sensible long-term investment that will hopefully be considered by more homeowners.
“We’re hoping all three levels of government will continue with their support for these programs so that these types of features can be offered to anyone who wants to build them,” he said.
A 2012 R-2000 standard home uses up to 50 per cent less energy than the same home built to the 2005 standard. The R-2000 program is a voluntary standard that resulted from collaboration between the Canadian Home Builder’s Association and Natural Resources Canada.
Since the standard’s first introduction in 1982, more than 14,000 homes in Canada have been certified by the federal government. All homes constructed by Evolve Developments are already complying with the Energy Star standard.
Lacey said it was quite overwhelming to learn their first R-2000 standard home, which is a more stringent standard to achieve than Energy Star, complied with the 2012 requirements.
“It’s good that we’re doing this before other cities that are quite larger,” he said. “It shows that we are leaders and that we try to do the best that we can.”
A R-2000 home would be six to seven per cent more expensive than an Energy Star home and around 10 per cent more expensive than an ordinary home.
In the case of this Swift Current home, the R-2000 standard added about $55,000 to construction cost. The $3,500 in annual energy savings will result in a payback period of 15 to 18 years.
According to Lacey there is a growing interest in more energy efficient homes. The Energy Star homes are already popular because it is more affordable than the R-2000 standard.
He felt existing government support, which takes place through a rebate program, should be expanded.
“There is a little bit of a rebate, but I would like to see more because it would promote people to do more of the energy savings,” he said.

Read 1903 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:48