When the British first settled Bermuda they knew they had to harvest rainfall on roofs, as there was no alternative if they wanted drinking water.
And now, with the onus on each and every one of us to take energy saving seriously, it is surely time we looked again at our roofs, this time to harness the power of the sun.
Two men who do take this matter seriously are Travis Burland and Stuart Kriendler of Bermuda Engineering Company, founded in 1935 by Gordon Hamilton Burland, great grandfather of Travis, who pioneered the first wind turbine and solar water heaters in Bermuda.
Today, Bermuda Engineering is dedicated to improving energy conservation and efficiency and offers a range of services including supplying and installing solar thermal collectors to heat water, photovoltaic modules to generate electricity, insulation to reduce air conditioning expenses, as well as energy assessments and in depth energy audits of residential and commercial premises, and installing energy-saving devices in homes and businesses.
Mr. Burland, chief engineer, explained that a solar thermal collector on the roof, tied to the water heater in the house, can generate most or all of the hot water needed, and will still pre-heat the water on cloudy days, “constantly saving energy and money in an eco-friendly way”.
“We perform a preliminary site visit to gauge how much water is used in the house, targeting the primary water heater, but we can also tie in a second water heater if applicable.” Mr. Burland said.
“We want to understand what the hot water demand is as we appropriately size the collector to meet the demand, making the best use of investment.”
Mr. Burland reassured householders who are concerned about having a solar collector on the roof, especially during the hurricane season: “We focus on doing a very thorough job securing the collectors to the roof. They are connected directly to the rafters, and we have
engineered our roof mountings to suit Bermuda’s construction methods to withstand 150mph winds.”
Mr. Kriendler, energy and sustainability specialist is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, also understands that energy conservation, efficiency and solar thermal hot water installation are the most ethical and economical first steps before solar photovoltaic electricity (PV) should be considered.
He said there are two types of solar thermal collectors that Bermuda Engineering installs.
“The TCT ProgressivTube model creates a virtual hot water storage tank where 20 to 40 gallons of water is stored and progressively heated in the collector itself.
“All its capacity is on the roof which is a big bonus for retro fit applications where space for a large 80-gallon water heater is not an option.
“The SunEarth model is a flat plate, which circulates about a gallon of hot water at a time into a large hot water heater (80-120 gallons in size).”
Both men agree that there is slight resistance on aesthetic grounds to having solar thermal collectors or PV modules on their roof.
Mr. Kriendler responds by pointing out that
having a solar panel of any kind on the roof is “beautiful — it’s a badge of honour”.
Investors in solar thermal collectors will want to know how long before they break even on their investment.
“It could be as short as four years, which is a great return.” Mr. Burland said. “It all depends on demand; the more solar hot water you use the faster the investment is paid off, and this is assuming conservative electricity price inflation in which respect these solar thermal systems can also be considered ‘insurance’ for unpredictable future energy rates.”
The Government also offers rebates on installations made by certified installers, like Bermuda Engineering.
Mr. Kriendler said: “The solar thermal collectors attract a maximum rebate of $1,500.
“Based on the standard SunEarth flat plate collector we use you can expect a return of $1,440, the ProgressivTube would offer $880-$1,170. The
photovoltaic rebate [for generating electricity] is a $1 a watt up to a maxi mum of $5,000.”
Safety is a priority at Bermuda Engineering and as solar thermal collectors can produce extremely hot water they ensure that two pressure relief valves, a vacuum breaker, and tempering valve are installed so you get the same temperature of water out of the faucet no matter how hot the water is in the solar thermal collectors.
It is a logical step from having solar thermal collectors for hot water to installing photovoltaic (PV) modules to generate solar electricity.
Mr. Kriendler explains that the electricity created by the photovoltaic modules comes down from the roof and passes through an inverter into the Belco meter on your property. If the PV modules do not provide enough energy for your needs the Belco grid provides the backup which is much more economical and ethical than a battery based system.
Conversely, Mr. Kriendler explains: “If the PV modules produce more electricity than you need it goes through the meter and spins it backwards, and so builds up credits during the day which help to offset the cost of running your major appliances.”
Travis Burland and Stuart Kriendler are committed environmentalists and are willing to give householders and businesses energy assessments which are guaranteed to save money and energy.
Environmental change starts in the home. You can learn how you can do the right thing by the environment and reduce your energy bills by contacting Bermuda Engineering on 292-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.