Les aventures en éconergie à domicile

Aimeriez-vous pouvoir chauffer votre maison et cuire votre nourriture avec seulement 3 cordes de bois par année? Que diriez-vous d'une source d'énergie solaire à vie pour seulement 6 500$? David Cozac de Keswick Ridge, NB, explique comment lui et son épouse ont réalisé ces innovations
dans leur maison. Cet article, plein de trucs, d'innovations et d'ingéniosité en efficacité, intéressera tous ceux qui rêvent de se "divorcer du réseau électrique."

The equipment:

-12 used Arco PV panels measuring 1’X4’ each.

-12 Trojan T-105, 6 volt deep cycle batteries

-A Trace C30A charge controller. (To regulate the electrical flow to the batteries and prevent overcharging.)

-A Trace 1500 watt inverter. (To convert the direct current energy generated by the PV’s and stored in the batteries to the alternating current houses are wired for.)

-Inverter and PV array disconnects.

-A Tri-metric meter for monitoring the system.

-A battery vent fan.

-Battery interconnect cables and all other wiring cable


If you are interested in further discussing how we achieved this home, or about our line of Sun-Mar toilets, please call David Cozac at (506)461-5001, after 7pm

   Adventures in Efficiency

David Cozac
April 1998

y wife and I have long been interested in energy conservation. When we had the opportunity to build our own home in Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick, we knew what we wanted. We had fallen in love with a piece of land and the rest was simple. We eagerly set about creating the most energy efficient home and lifestyle we could.

(photo: David Cozac)

"When we had the opportunity to build our own home ... we knew what we wanted."

Pouring over magazines, books and trade journals, we came up with a plan and decided to generate our own electricity. Our first thoughts were to utilize wind power, as we were in a suitable location. After talking to people with wind systems, we decided to use photo-voltaic panels (P.V.’s or solar), mainly because we were warned that there would be noise from a windmill.

Using a generator for our initial electricity, we began building our house and researching designs for a solar energy system. We had already decided to do all our cooking, heating and hot water with wood, so now it was just a matter of checking the energy requirements of our appliances, small tools and light bulbs. To aid in conservation, we installed only compact flourescent light bulbs and a small submersible pump that draws only .55 amps, or the equivalent of a 60 watt bulb. After compiling our energy needs and our average usage, it was easy to calculate our total electricity demand. Taking into account the amount of sunlight received in our location, we chose the size and amount of PV panels we would need. Lastly, we looked at our average sunlight records to help us decide on our battery storage needs.

We purchased most of our equipment in Maine and the supplier provided a simple wiring diagram that our electrician worked with. When the wiring was finished we turned on the inverter and it was a great feeling to see light coming from the sun’s energy.

"Now we don’t have to worry about monthly, ever-escalating, NB power bills."

(photo: David Cozac)

Our system, including all the equipment, materials, and the electrician cost approximately $6500. It took some time and exhaustive research to set up, but it is liberating to know that our electricity is not coming from Point Lepreau or other major power plants. Now we don’t have to worry about monthly, ever-escalating, NB power bills.

On principal, we try to support our local economy and therefore we used local materials to build our home. It was a difficult thing to do, in our "global economy", when even small hardware stores have pine from Oregon and windows from Georgia. For our frame structure, a timber frame fit the bill. We bought the logs, cut the timbers and had enough leftover lumber to build our house, including the clap-board. We used a salt box design that left a long slope of the roof facing the north winds. No plywood or drywall was used, to avoid the health risks, due to formaldehyde, phenols and adhesives added in their manufacturing. Our insulation is cellulose - shredded newspaper!

We built the house facing towards the south and placed the windows and doors east-west, allowing them to open for summer ventilation. On our north side we have few windows and have built outside rooms, a porch and a summer kitchen, around our doors.

(photo: David Cozac)

"This meant constructing a Finnish masonry stove."

In our climate, heating is of utmost importance and we wanted to use our wood as efficiently as possible. This meant constructing a Finnish masonry stove. These stoves have an intricate system of drafts that lead hot air along the longest possible route. This heats the mass of brick and keeps the most heat inside the house. The stove looks like a big brick furnace in the center of the house, strikingly beautiful, as it serves as one of the few walls in this open concept. There is no duct work or forced air, just a 2 ½ story double brick chimney that radiates the last warmth from the fire. Our wood stove is also made of brick and though the cast iron top is like a normal wood stove, the brick body absorbs the heat and slowly radiates it. It’s a pleasure to use, especially in the summer. We heat our two story home, 28’X30’, and cook our food with 2 ½ to 3 cords of wood annually.

In the spring, summer, and autumn, we use a solar oven for cooking. It is a simple insulated box with reflectors that captures sunshine. On hot sunny days we joyously cook our meals, outside, while working in our organic garden.

Our pantry stretches along the north wall and the root cellar is a large 20’X16’ room. These are very cool spaces, even in the heat of summer. For our refrigerator we built a "California cooler." This vents warm air out the top, creating a vacuum which draws cool air up from the root cellar to keep our goods preserved.

Visitors always comment on how quiet our house is, as we purposely chose not to have any fans or motors. Our upstairs is always 2 degrees warmer than the downstairs. Every few days our pump fills our water tank, at the very top of our upstairs and the water is then gravity fed throughout the house.  We don't need that much water as we use a composting toilet for human waste.

"We don't need that much water as we use a composting toilet for human waste."

(photo: Sun-Mar Catalog)

The house is always bright and cheery, especially with our four 4 ½’ X 5’ and two 4’X5’ windows that help increase our passive solar gain. Our windows are large and argon filled, so that they capture all the free heat the sun has to offer. Although we collect heat all winter, the summer sun is high enough that the house doesn’t overheat.

It feels great to be "off the grid" and we haven’t used our generator since we installed our solar panels. Our unusual ideas in home building are the best of the old and the new. Our home is now a living example of what can be done by anyone with no special skills, just lots of planning and a few innovative technologies.