Eduardo Uranga’s energy bills are next to nothing, especially this time of year, thanks to a solar water heater in his Cumberland home.
His bills run about $2 per month.
“May, June, July has been like nothing,” said Uranga, who had the heater installed in May. “It’s doing what it’s supposed to. It would take 50 per cent or more of the actual use of hot water off the bill.”
In the past, he said the biggest barrier of the technology has been cost. These days, however, he said the price for a system that would produce 300 litres of hot water a day is $2,900.
“Canada has looked at this in the past,” Uranga said. “They had an incentive of $1,250, but if you put that into an $8,800 bill, it doesn’t make any sense.”
In 2011, the City of Vancouver had a program that would pay $3,000 to a household to install a solar water heater, but he said a “price tag of $7,000 or $8,000 just didn’t fly.”
Uranga has been involved with the technology since the 1980s. He had started a solar water heating business in his home country of Mexico, and is now in the process of starting a local company.
In terms of environmental benefits, Uranga said a solar water system reduces the carbon footprint of a home by 1.6 tonnes a year.
“That pretty much erases the footprint,” he said. “Canada has a huge commitment to the world on the Paris Agreement, on reduction of carbon emissions.
“More than 60 per cent of water heaters in Canada are natural gas or some kind of combustion. Solar water heating can make a big dent on this, starting with the Comox Valley,” he added.
In 2011, the outdoor swimming pool in Courtenay was outfitted with a solar heating system to warm the water. The technology includes 16 solar panels and a thermal cover.