Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story by David Sorcher
In 2017 my wife Veronica and I finally made a seventeen-year dream come true. We bought a house in Petite Rivière on Nova Scotia’s famed South Shore and began making our plans to permanently relocate to Lunenburg County. We did not, of course, choose such a life-altering course without some serious thought and planning. This was a homecoming for Veronica, who was raised in nearby Riverport. Her parents still live there in the same house where she grew up. As a lifelong American, however, it was perhaps a greater leap into the unfamiliar for me.
There was a lot to consider before we actually made the physical move. Yes, we had certain safety nets in place. We had family and friends both in the county and scattered about the province. Knowing this move was a goal for nearly two decades, I had also spent some time fostering relationships in my field as a photojournalist since my earliest visits to the region. But when it came right down to it, once my path to permanent residency was in the works it was not really possible for me to seek or secure any work before our arrival. Veronica found herself in a similar position. Finding jobs was something that would have
to wait until we were actually settled. And as much as we know Veronica’s parents love us dearly we certainly could not count on dining at their house every night. That’s a welcome that would wear thin quickly. So as our plan developed we knew we needed to create our own financial safety net and a large part of that plan depended upon becoming energy self-sufficient.
Going solar presented itself as the obvious solution to a number of our problems, so it was in our minds before we even bought the house. First and foremost it just makes sense to build solar technology into every new building – why not add it to older structures as well? A network of privately owned panels feeding the web is just one of many ways to embrace green living. In concert with wind, tidal and geo-thermal sources, living with only renewable power supplies is a fully achievable dream.
The second benefit is the ideal of going net-zero for our yearly electric usage. That is, of course, the financially sustainable part we were searching for. With no mortgage and minimal energy bills we could deal well with the circumstances of uncertain employment from a much stronger position.
The south-facing, unobstructed roof made our new home
a perfect candidate for solar. So we began preparing it for installation even before we found the right company for the job. The first thing we needed to do was swap out the old fuse box for a new breaker panel system and upgrade our electrical system to 200 amps. This was also
necessary for the heating system
we were planning to replace our oil
We started researching solar
companies and looking for
grants or subsidies that could
help us. At first we could
not find much in the way of
government programs. But
the fates seemed to be with
us by the time we were
ready to roll. Efficiency
Nova Scotia was offering
rebates of up to $10,000
for grid-tied solar
arrays. We initially
had thought it
would be great
to go off-grid, but
after checking into the
price and storage area needed for the
battery system necessary for running an entire
household and weighing that against the rather large rebate on offer we decided that feeding the grid would not be such a bad way to go after all. Our timing was perfect. This rebate program is still in place, but now only offers rebates of up to $6000. Still a good deal in my book, but we were able to save quite a bit more.
We did get a few quizzical responses from some of our contractors. Oil is relatively cheap. Heat pumps and solar panels are not. How would we ever see a return on our investment? Were we planning on living to be 100 (actually yes, we are, but that’s not the point)? The bottom line here is that, thanks to
the sale of the Cincinnati house, we had the money to do this now. Who knows what our incomes will be in years to come. I suppose we could have stashed that surplus cash away in an account slated for paying out our yearly oil bills, but how does that help the planet? With privilege and good fortune comes great responsibility and we knew that going green was just the right thing to do, even if the money systems we have installed. We all need to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint as best we can, and going solar is certainly one viable path to follow. For anyone wishing to investigate these possibilities, I would say the best place to start would be the Efficiency Nova Scotia website. They will lay out the steps for you, provide a list of approved installers, and show you how to get yourself approved for the rebate. They also have a list of helpful resources and informational videos available on their site. www.efficiencyns.ca/residential/services-rebates/solarhomes