Getting Greener Every Day
There are many other emerging technologies that have potential green benefits but are not yet commonplace:
Geothermal heating and cooling systems use buried pipes to take advantage of the stable earth temperature below the frost line. Rather than create heat, these systems move heat as needed using a heat pump and as a result, are more efficient than traditional systems. When paired with green power, carbon emissions can be eliminated entirely.
While large-scale wind energy generation sites are growing, small systems for homes tend to have relatively high costs compared to other options. It’s also worth noting that the winds that Edmonton experiences are often intermittent and too variable in speed to generate significant quantities of electricity. As a result, it can be challenging to design a system to generate dependable power at the household level.
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or Cogeneration
This system uses a fuel fired engine to generate power while simultaneously capturing the excess heat produced for heating purposes. Using the waste heat and creating electricity on-site makes the system more efficient. However, these systems can require a lot of maintenance and are best suited for buildings which have a constant need for heat so that the excess heat is not wasted.
A district energy system is one that centralizes heating and cooling energy generation and distributes this energy to a larger area including many buildings, such as a neighbourhood. When purchasing a new home, investigate whether it is connected to a district energy source.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
As electric vehicles become more common, home builders and owners may choose to install vehicle charging stations in garages or other appropriate locations. These stations need to be included in the design of the home’s electrical system. As with ground-source heat pumps, unless the electricity used to power the electric vehicles comes from a green source, electric vehicles will still result in carbon emissions. Electric bicycles, however, are a great option because they use so little energy compared to a car. Electric bicycles also provide moderate physical exercise (if they’re the pedal-assist type). And during some urban commutes, the rider can reach their destination quicker than by car.