When Jai Zachary noticed his high winter heating bills in December, 2008, he became concerned.
“I was needing some sort of solution,” he recalled.
A week later, on one of the coldest days of the winter, the electrical substation failed.
This led Zachary to develop the Revolution, a combined heat and power unit.
The Revolution combines hot water heating, space heating, air conditioning and backup electricity into one unit.
Because energy is shared between different systems, the system is more efficient, reduces energy costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Zachary’s company, ElectroMotion Energy Corporation, has installed and unveiled the first unit at a home in Summerland.
By combining the two services, he said it is possible to generate electricity and feed it into the electrical grid, sharing it with neighbours.
“You’re getting paid to heat your home,” he said.
Zachary unveiled his device last week, receiving accolades for the innovation.
“Your company is really challenging the status quo,” said MP Dan Albas. “During these challenging times, we’re looking to the private sector to take the lead.”
MLA Bill Barisoff said advances in energy technology are becoming increasingly important.
“These are the kinds of things we’re going to need,” he said. “The fact that it’s here in Summerland makes me extremely proud.”
Jackie Jacobson, an MLA from the Northwest Territories, said the Revolution unit will help in the communities he represents.
He said the cost of living in Arctic communities is high, in part because of the costs of heating a home. In winter, some homes in Tuktoyaktuk, a community north of the Arctic Circle, pay $1,800 a month for electricity.
“We have a lot of young families struggling. The cost of living is too much,” he said.
While energy costs are much lower here, Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino said electricity costs have risen by around 15 per cent over the past three years.
“In Summerland, our residents face ever increasing utility rates,” she said. “Combine that with the continual capital expenditures needed every year to provide excellent electrical service to our residents and we are looking at significant dollars.”
Martin Yuill of Accelerate Okanagan, a not-for-profit group helping technology-based organizations in the region, is pleased with the progress ElectroMotion has made.
He said the company is one of the top 10 businesses in Accelerate Okanagan’s Jump:Start:Challenge.
Ian McIntosh, the homeowner who has Summerland’s first net meter and the first Revolution unit, said he is already noticing an improvement as a result.
“For me, it’s a warm house and it’s lots of warm water,” he said.
Zachary is now working on the pilot project for the Revolution.
“Now that we have so many key milestones under our belt, the next step is to roll out a community demonstration project with a couple dozen units,” he said. “This collaborative pilot project will allow us to more broadly measure and demonstrate the impact on decreased consumption and energy costs for the individual and the broader community.”