Home Conversion: Ray Scott

By Richard Peachey

Ray and Lois Clark stand proudly with their mostly electric house and car.

Ray and Lois Scott live in west-end Peterborough in a suburban home. There is a front garden with beautiful hydrangeas still blossoming, but other than that it is similar to all the other homes on the attractive, tree-lined street. However, inside there is a fundamental difference; it is an innovative, top-of-the-line, electrically powered home that burns very little fossil fuel.

Ray had his eureka moment in 2018 when he did a calculation about how much CO2 his household was producing. He had just bought a fully electric vehicle (a Hyundai Kona), and his calculations revealed that with this purchase he had suddenly and significantly reduced by half the amount of CO2 emissions his household and lifestyle generated.

The realization made him go on and do the research to see how else he and Lois together could limit their CO2 production. He investigated the use of solar energy to supplement the hydro fed into the home, and he found information about heat pumps to replace his gas furnace and air conditioner. He realized he could bring to an end his contribution to climate change by converting his home.

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In 2021 he hired Generation Solar, a local Peterborough-based solar energy supplier to install the solar array, inverter, batteries and other equipment. To replace the gas furnace he chose a Mitsubishi Zuba Central heat pump, installed by an Oshawa contractor. If you look at the diagram on the left you will see the way the hydro and solar feed into the home now.

There are solar panels on his south-facing roof, as well as on the east and west faces. A gateway, a smart switch, feeds the electric energy provided by solar, as well as that from the hydro grid, into the electrical panel for all home use. A total of 32 kilowatt hours of batteries can store excess electric energy, depending on the demand from the household. Ray explained that this is enough to supply the home with a full day’s normal energy in case of a hydro outage. And any excess power from the solar array goes to the grid to reduce his hydro bill.

The heat pump is effective for heating the house even in -30C or colder weather. A back-up electric furnace would kick in if there were temperatures too cold for the heat pump to handle. One major benefit of the heat pump is that it also acts as an air-conditioner in summer time.

In addition, there is an electrical circuit to the garage, which powers a 220V charger that keeps his Hyundai Kona, as well as the newer Tesla, ready for the road.

After the conversion Ray found that their use of electricity increased by just 20% in the first year, priced at around $130 annually. However, the use of gas decreased in the same time period by 82%, for a saving of $185 annually.

He claims that the whole project was completed at the cost of a small mortgage, but that by making the energy conversion they have reduced its fossil fuel-burning footprint, resulting in a decrease of 2.14 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

As for the results of the project he says that he and Lois are totally happy with the conversion. He says he notices how quiet the heat pump is compared to the gas furnace and air conditioner and he enjoys perfect security, knowing that as long as the sun shines he will be comfortable.

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