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Goodbye Hydro: $835 in savings in 9 months thanks to the solar panels for its heat pump

Goodbye Hydro: $835 in savings in 9 months thanks to the solar panels for its heat pump

A Saint Laurent resident fought for nearly two years to change municipal regulations that prevented him from installing solar panels on his roof.

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Trung Nguyen, an electrical engineer by profession, records an interesting saving now thanks to the 2,000 watts of power he draws from his five solar panels (400 watts each) that power his heat pump.

This project, which began planning in 2020, when it had an oil heating system before acquiring a heat pump, had to be accepted by the municipal administration.

Saint Laurent’s bylaw has allowed solar panels to be installed on flat roofs since 2015, but Mr. Nguyen’s roof is slanted. So the city initially refused to give him a permit.

“The federal government subsidizes us for solar panels, but the municipal government prevents them from being installed,” he told the city, when he began his “fight” with this argument.

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Quick savings

Truong Nguyen invested $8,000 in his project. The heat pump and installation cost him about $4,000, the solar panels $2,000, and the panels cost him $2,000.

“Adding the solar panels and heat pump reduced my water bill by $835 in 9 months, which I believe is a return on investment over 10 years,” explains Mr. Nguyen, who literally monitors his energy bills. Comparisons from last year.

“I only have 9 months of data, but I haven’t changed my windows, I haven’t changed the insulation, and I haven’t changed the doors either,” he says.

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Mr. Nguyen also added a funny anecdote, when the power went out recently. “I didn’t realize it because the heat pump was running,” he says. “I’m not independent of Hydro, but when the sun shines, I’m a little independent.”

Truong Nguyen stands next to his heat pump powered by its five solar panels.

Simon Desorault

Municipal communications

Therefore, every month, Mr. Nguyen communicated with the municipality administration to see if his project file was moving forward.

“And there were the municipal elections,” he recalls. The candidates told me: Yes, yes, we will do something for you, but after the elections they stopped.

The municipal bylaw was finally amended on April 5, 2022 to allow the installation of solar panels on sloped roofs. The town’s bylaws state in particular that “the planned installation of this type of material shall be done in such a way as to minimize its visual impact from the street while enhancing the protection of the architectural integrity of the building and its fixtures.”

It also states that “any electrical wires connected to the solar collector and other related equipment should be concealed to reduce their visibility”.

“It’s not a question of energy efficiency, it’s a question of aesthetics,” believes Mr. Nguyen, regarding regulation. “And hey, I don’t find solar panels that ugly.”

Changing municipal regulations

Is there a regulation governing the installation of solar panels on a property in Quebec?

“Subject to municipal regulations, there are no regulations from the Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ) that apply to the installation of solar panels on the property,” confirmed Laurent Berubet, Communications Consultant at RBQ.