One Nova Scotian is living off the grid with a super-efficient house that saves hundreds of dollars per year in electricity and heating costs.
Keith Robertson, who runs a Halifax-based architectural firm, has finished construction on a green concept cottage on Second Peninsula, N.S., about five kilometres northeast of Lunenburg.
"We've been here for about six months and our total energy costs has been $157, so far," he said.
The home is not tied to an electrical grid, instead it relies on a photovoltaic array to harness solar power to provide the home with electricity.
On his website, Robertson states that the super insulated cottage will never drop below 15 degrees Celsius — even without a heating system.
"If you touch that now, it's very warm. Probably 120, 125 degrees," said Robertson, pointing out the home's hot water storage, heated using solar thermal panels.
The home is primarily heated using solar energy, both passive — through super-insulated windows — and active, using solar panels to convert the sun's rays into electricity.
For those extra cold days, there's a high-efficiency wood fireplace.
Propane fuels the kitchen stove and the cottage is outfitted with the latest energy-efficient appliances and lights.
Perhaps not as attractive as the beautful salvaged wood doors, the home's septic system is also state-of-the art. This is the first home to replace 70 tonnes of quarried sand with crushed recycled glass.
Robertson said he went the extra mile to ensure materials for the house were sourced locally — when possible — or made from recycled materials.
"About 30 per cent of the concrete here is actually made up of recycled glass so that's glass from the window industry which is typically non-recyclable that's been crushed and used as aggregate in the concrete mix," he said.
In addition to being off the grid, the home is designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-level certification — the highest green certification level available from the Canadian Green Building Council.