“One thing we’ve discovered, solar panels generate really amazing amounts of power”

Two homeowners featured in our upcoming Passport to a Low Carbon Economy EcoHomes Tour spoke with CBC Shift NB’s Vanessa Vander Valk this week to share their story and let New Brunswickers know how fun and beneficial switching to a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle has been for them.

Peeter and Kate Vihvelin live off-grid at their home and hobby farm in Bocabec. What started as a small cabin sporting only one solar panel and a single battery (enough to keep the lights and internet going) over time grew to include their current home, a large barn, and a small workshop — all supported by 20 solar panels and a nearby wind turbine.

The Vihvelin’s say they don’t have to make any compromises or sacrifices to live this way — they still enjoy the same appliances as most New Brunswick homeowners, for example. The biggest change is they’re a little more in-tune with nature and the changing climate – making sure to sweep instead of using the vacuum on rainy days, drying their laundry in the sun when possible — little changes that come with being thoughtful about one’s power consumption.

And, they’ve never run out of power.

“One thing we’ve discovered is solar panels generate really amazing amounts of power, and most of the time, we can not use it,” Peeter said. “Once our batteries are charged by 10 or 11 in the morning, most of the power is wasted, it can’t go anywhere, and the really good charging comes closer to noon hour. So there’s 5,000 watts sitting there wanting to go somewhere and it can’t, but if you’re connected to the grid, you’re spinning your meter backwards, building up credit for the coming winter, and feeding other people (with renewable power).”

He urges anyone looking to build a new home or renovate their current home to seriously consider the benefits of renewable energy.

“For the average person … to me, the answer going forward is to load up with solar panels and connect to the grid. Then they don’t have to worry about batteries, they have infinite power coming in from the grid if their solar system can’t provide it, and when they’re making more power than they can use it goes back into the grid and feeds neighbours and other consumers.”

Kate says she is really excited about showcasing her success with sustainable living because she remembers how much she wished there were more first-hand examples of environmentally-friendly designs eight years ago when her small off-grid cabin was nothing but a dream and a desire to live an earth friendly lifestyle.

“Because seeing something in the flesh is different than seeing them in magazines,” she said. “We’re actually to go and see the other homes on the tour as well, in the afternoon, after our part is done.”

Our Passport to a Low Carbon Future EcoHomes Tour will shine a spotlight on low-carbon homes and public buildings in Bocabec, Letete, Saint John, Quispamsis and the Kingston Peninsula tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, beginning at 9 a.m..

Space is still available! Register today and receive an e-brochure with descriptions and directions to the homes featured in the tour.


June 9th, 2018

ST. ANDREWS: 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

SAINT JOHN: 12:00PM - 5:00 PM

Take a sneak peek!

Register today!