"Arbutus Bluff is now closer to the sun" states the Gabriola Island B&B's website, and it couldn't be more true with a solar hot water system reaping the rewards of summer sunshine. The system was installed three years ago to help decrease owner Bill and Liz's hydro bills.
"As a B&B we use white sheets so it's a lot of hot water loads," says Bill, of their desire to offset the cost of the laundry that flows through the house. But this wasn't the only reason they went solar, at the time of their installation incentives were available, and a renewable energy system was one more step towards a sustainable lifestyle.
"Because we live on island we have to be conservation-minded anyway," he says, of their limited water supply. They use a rainwater collection system that store 3000 gallons for watering plants and supplying water for their hot tub. The three collectors (panels) Enerworks solar hot water system with 80 gallon solar storage tank supplies hot water for household utility use, from laundry to showers and dishes, and Bill says they've seen a drop in their hydro bills since the system's installation. A system monitor set up in the laundry room allows them to keep an eye on how the system is working and how much hot water they are drawing on a daily basis.
"Right now, we're almost always creating hot water with the system, but in the winter we'll try to match our laundry habits to when it's running," says Bill, adding that his favourite aspect of the system is its simplicity. "You don't have to do anything with it, it just runs. And it's great to know that every time we use hot water we aren't spending more than we have to, by taking advantage of a natural resource."
Bill says working with Terratek Energy to design and install the system was both easy and informative. "When I started looking into it I had questions," he says. "They were open to looking at different aspects and gave me all the answers I was looking for. They knew what they were doing."
Arbutus Bluff is ideal for solar hot water because of their open, unshaded roof space and if other B&Bs have the same rooftop potential he encourages them to install a renewable energy system. "I would say definitely do it," says Bill. "Compared to hydro generation, where we've seen the costs go up, the investment is reasonable. And once it's up and running don't have to do anything."
Read more about the B&B on their solar page.