What started as a small renovation project has turned into a battle against climate change for an Edmonton couple who have spent more than two decades turning their home into a zero-sum house.
Darren and Darcy Crichton wanted to isolate their modest 1969 home in the Kilkenny neighborhood of northeastern Edmonton when they noticed how sturdy it was.
Their initial goal was to save money and make the home more comfortable.
“We strongly believe that climate change is affecting us negatively,” Darcy said in an interview with CBC. Active Radio.
“We realized that there are things we can really do that make our lives better and also contribute less to climate change.”
The couple only started working on reducing the home’s carbon footprint after first addressing the insulation upgrade.
“The insulation part was the big step, and then once our house was closed we wanted to install solar,” Darren told CBC Edmonton. active radio.
Over the course of 20 years, the couple spent $70,000 — after subsidies — to renovate the 1,200-square-foot home.
“And we did most of the work ourselves,” Darren said. “It’s not cheap, but it’s been more than 20 years.”
Darcy said they were way ahead of the curve in being environmentally conscious for their home, and they didn’t receive subsidies until they decided to install the solar panels.
Darren said he’s promoting solar power to anyone who wants to reduce their dependence on the power grid.
“I am very convinced that solar energy is paying off in seven years and that the federal government has a program now where it will provide subsidies as well as interest-free money,” he said.
Solar panels are arranged on the roof of their house and two separate horseshoe-shaped garages.
active radio6:54Edmonton couple play long games and reach net zero
Darren said the most significant renovation the Crichtons has made is the installation of a geothermal system or a ground source for power, heating, and cooling.
They had to drill five wells on their property, each more than 75 meters deep. Heat is recovered using a heat pump.
“We run a mixture of ethanol and water through these wells in the front yard and it takes the heat out of the ground, and we put it back in our furnace,” Darren said.
Change for the climate
The story of the renewal of the couple was shown on the website of Change for the climatea program for the City of Edmonton aimed at reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Heather Weliker, director of community programs at the city’s Environmental and Climate Resilience Unit, said the program has been a success.
“We have initiatives that have been introduced to various different sectors in Edmonton, and we are already seeing a good uptake of those rebates and capacity building programs,” Weliker said.
The City of Edmonton has a list of actions people can take to reduce their carbon footprint, such as drying clothes naturally, leaving grass clippings on the lawn, and commuting by transit.
The measures are rated on a scale of one to five based on how they contribute to the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
What is available?
A number of municipal programs are available to Edmonton residents wishing to renovate their homes.
The Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator (HERA) offers discounts on insulation equipment, windows, water and space heating. It’s available to homeowners who have spoken to an energy consultant and have a home energy assessment.
Energy consultants conduct audits for homeowners and provide solutions to help them reduce their energy consumption.
Under the HERA program, homeowners can add better insulation, three-pane windows, and a newer heating system.
About 2,000 Edmonton residents participate in the HERA program. Due to the high level of participation, the city is currently facing a backlog of HERA applications.
The city also offers a solar discount program for solar panel installations. The program will cover about 15 percent of the cost.
However, as of September 2, the program is no longer accepting applications. The money ran out after allocating $2.1 million in rebates this year.
Homeowners can apply to the federal government green house initiative For grants and interest-free loans.
Darren Crichton notes that choosing a more energy-efficient lifestyle isn’t necessarily limited to the people who own their homes.
“You don’t have to own a home to reduce your carbon footprint,” he said, adding that something as small as supporting local residents and sustainable buying would help.