“With our heat pump, we went down about 35 per cent on our power bill by just changing the water heater,” says Steven Weagle, president of Sunflower Solar.
Spring is not quite here, but meander around a bend on the Bedford Highway and a 25-foot sunflower is in full bloom at Farmer’s Best market. The off-grid solar beacon of sunshine was recently installed by Sunflower Solar and together the two businesses are cooperatively marketing solar energy to Nova Scotians.
“Solar has never been more affordable than it is now … we’re a little bit behind in Canada, but we’re catching up,” says Kirsten Weagle, one of four partners at Sunflower Solar Inc.
“Solar is totally modular so just about anything is possible from a homeowner or even a commercial business perspective,” says Weagle.
Originally from Lower Sackville, Weagle says he loves technology and being hands-on with innovating solar power. He says the sunflower project took about a year and a half and is a labour of love and a progression from engineering solar-powered hot dog vending carts in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
The energy dashboard is lit and students at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth are making the connection between their power to reduce power, for a better future.
Grade 11 Prince Andrew High School students Sara Sheydaei and Fatemeh Saadat at the school’s energy dashboard showing by 11:15 a.m. on Wed. Oct. 8 the school has already used enough water to fill 43 bathtubs. (L-R)
“Maybe the next generation of schools and maybe even PA will start to incorporate things like solar panels and micro wind turbines and you may even see some schools into net metering into the grid at some point,” said Energy Minister Andrew Younger.
Students, teachers and energy officials helped launch the first of 40 energy dashboards to be completely operational by the end of this school year. As part of the Lights Off – Green On! energy efficiency initiative, 90 schools are preparing to install the real-time dashboards by 2017, plugging in HRSB students and staff to their direct impact on energy, water and gas consumption.
“Right now we’re lighting 6,664 light bulbs,” explained Lee Anne Amaral, Vice Principal at Prince Andrew. It’s 11:15 a.m. on Wed. Oct. 8 and the school is in full energy mode and the dashboard shows they’ve already used enough water to fill 43 bathtubs. The dashboard has been aptly placed in a freshly painted bright green trophy case outside the cafeteria, the perfect location, she says, to invoke conversations about electricity demand.
“We have more than 900 students. They’ll come down and look at the dashboard … they’ll look at the weather and once you get to the bars you can see a comparison of one week to another,” says Amaral.
She says a PD Day last week sparked great curiosity amongst the students. “I probably had 30 students here wondering why we didn’t use water last Monday … I asked them, did none of you use the bathroom?” she laughs.