Elphinstone: Going net zero in Area E 

There’s an amazing property tucked away in the western corner of Elphinstone, owned by Gerry and Deborah Pageau. We’ve known the Pageaus since we first came to the Coast in the 1980s when we both had children in Jack and Jill Preschool. Many will know Gerry as an engineer at the mill; he has turned his engineering skills to getting his home to net zero. 

The first thing you notice upon arriving at the Pageau home is the roof packed with solar panels. Gerry is on the board of the Sunshine Coast Community Solar Association and early on had organized 24 panels for his flat roof. He bought some racking from a business that didn’t need them anymore and arranged the panels at the optimum angle. On the association’s first bulk buy, he bought eight more and along with also having a solar thermal system, that means that their home, swimming pool and small rental unit is net zero – i.e., they supply BC Hydro with about the same amount of energy they use. 

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Gerry and his wife Deborah had always wanted to have an electric car – Deborah said, “I heard about them 42 years ago and said to Gerry that we would get one some day.”

Well, that day has come as they now drive a Tesla that they ordered just over two years ago. Gerry says that an electric car, with 200 moving parts versus 2,000 for a gasoline-powered vehicle, is virtually maintenance free.

He cited this information: the maintenance cost for their Jetta averages $1,560 per year even with doing some maintenance himself. The Tesla will require new tires every five years and brakes every seven years, so its annual maintenance will work out to $300 per year. Their net-zero home covers the cost of charging it, but even if it didn’t, electric cars are so efficient that the electricity cost of charging them is low compared to the cost of gas. 

Gerry helped organize the Sunshine Coast Solar Association’s first two bulk buys plus he teaches an Elder College course about going solar, which will be offered again this fall. On behalf of the association he’s shown a local business the cost savings of using solar thermal to heat their pool and spa. 

The Pageaus teach a course about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, also through Elder College. They became vegan 35 years ago for health reasons. Deborah says that going vegan is good for the environment, good for animal rights and welfare and good for health and longevity; it makes perfect sense (email plantbasedliving@eastlink.ca for more info). Gerry is happy to be contacted about his net-zero home and can be reached through the Solar Association’s email at: suncoastcsa@gmail.com. 

Let me know your community news at: elphin@coastreporter.net

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