Edmonton couple spend 20 years transforming a 60s bungalow into a cozy net-zero home |  Radio-Canada News

Edmonton couple spend 20 years transforming a 60s bungalow into a cozy net-zero home | Radio-Canada News

What started as a small renovation project turned into a fight against climate change for an Edmonton couple who spent more than two decades transforming their bungalow into a net-zero home.

Darren and Darcy Crichton wanted to insulate their modest bungalow built in 1969 in the Kilkenny neighborhood, northeast of Edmonton, when they noticed how drafty it was.

Their original intention was to save money and make the house more comfortable.

“We strongly believe that climate change is having a negative impact on us,” Darcy said in an interview with CBC’s Radio Active.

“We realized that there really were things we could do that made our lives better and also contributed less to climate change.”

The couple only began working to reduce the home’s carbon footprint after first tackling improved insulation.

“The insulation part was the big step, and then once we sealed our house, we wanted to install solar,” Darren told CBC Edmonton. Active radio.

A bird's eye view of a modest bungalow with a trench to its right.
The installation of the geothermal geothermal system was the most significant renovation they have done, said Darren Crichton. (Envirotech Geothermal Ltd)

Over 20 years, the couple spent $70,000 — after grants — to renovate the 1,200 square foot home.

“And we did most of the work ourselves,” Darren said. “It’s not cheap, but it was over 20 years old.”

Darcy said they had a head start when it came to being eco-friendly for their home and hadn’t received any grants until they decided to install solar panels.

Darren said he promotes solar power to anyone who wants to reduce their reliance on the power grid.

“I’m absolutely confident solar will pay off in seven years, and the federal government has a program right now where they’ll provide a grant on top of the interest-free money,” he said.

Solar panels are arranged on the roof of their house and their two detached garages in the shape of a horseshoe.

Listen | Darcy and Darren Crichton talk about their project.

Active radio6:54Edmonton pair play the long games to reach net zero

Darren and Darcy Crichton have spent over 20 years transforming their home into a net zero emitter.

The most significant renovation the Crichtons did was to install a geothermal or geothermal energy, heating and cooling system, Darren said.

They had to dig five wells on their property, each more than 75 meters deep. The heat is recovered using a heat pump.

“We run a mixture of ethanol and water through these wells in the front yard and it pulls the heat out of the ground, and we send it back to our furnace,” Darren said.

Climate Change

The couple’s renovation story was featured on a website for Change for Climate, a City of Edmonton program aimed at reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Heather Wheeliker, program manager for community programs with the city’s environmental and climate resilience unit, said the program has been a success.

“We have initiatives that are offered to a variety of different sectors in Edmonton and we’re seeing really good uptake of these rebates and capacity building programs,” Wheeliker said.

The City of Edmonton has a list of things people can do to reduce their carbon footprint, like drying clothes naturally, leaving grass clippings on the lawn, and getting around on public transit.

Actions are scored on a scale of one to five based on their contribution to the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s available?

A number of municipal programs are available to Edmontonians who wish to renovate their homes.

The Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator (HERA) offers rebates for insulation, windows, water and space heating equipment. It is available to homeowners who have spoken to an energy advisor and have had their home energy assessed.

Energy advisors carry out audits for owners and offer solutions to help them reduce their energy consumption.

Under the HERA program, owners can add better insulation, triple-glazed windows and a newer heating system.

About 2,000 Edmonton residents participate in the HERA program. Due to the high level of participation, the city is currently facing a backlog in HERA applications.

The city also offers a solar rebate program for solar panel installations. The program will cover approximately 15 percent of the cost.

However, since September 2, the program is no longer accepting applications. It ran out of funds after allocating $2.1 million in rebates this year.

Homeowners can apply to the federal government’s Greener Homes Initiative for grants and interest-free loans.

Darren Crichton notes that choosing a more energy-efficient lifestyle isn’t necessarily limited to people who own their own homes.

“You don’t have to own a home to minimize your carbon footprint,” he said, adding that something small like supporting locals and buying sustainably would help.

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