All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

Snow on the roof

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Glorious, beautiful snow!  It’s beedsc00154n a treat – if you like snow, of course.  If you’re a commuter in Vancouver, maybe not so much.

Sunshine on snow is bright enough to make forget that the days are short.  It’s also colder, though, which means steep heating bills.

But some houses are better than others, in that respect.  In an ideal world, houses are superbly insulated: they should snow on their roofs as much as an unheated garage does.  Walk around and you’ll see that’s far from the case, obviously.

Snow on the roof of the house on 6th - the only one.

Snow on the roof of the house on 6th – the only one.

I noticed that two weeks ago.  There were only a handful of houses that still had snow on their roofs before the general thaw: these are the super-performers.  I noticed, in particular, a house on Sixth near Commercial: brand new, occupied, the only one with a full cover of snow on its roof.  All the other houses along the street had a bare roof, meaning that the occupants had spent quite a bit of energy melting the snow on their roof instead of keeping the warmth inside the home.

Another one with an intact load of snow: unoccupied, not heated.

Another one with an intact load of snow: unoccupied, not heated.

 

 

 

 

It won’t necessarily make a huge difference on the bill at the end of the month; energy is still relatively cheap here, compared to Europe, say.  But it is an indication of inefficiency.  Multiply that by the number of homes in the Lower Mainland and that’s a substantial carbon footprint you’re looking at.

Even today (feb 7, after the weekend dump) I could see very obvious differences between houses.  This is probably where it’s a most useful guide.  If the snow on your roof starts to melt and disappear before the neighbour’s, it’s an indication that your house – or at least the roof – is a good candidate for more insulation.

Uneven melting patches on the roof on this house on Graveley, a sign of deficient insulation.

Uneven melting patches on the roof on this house on Graveley, a sign of deficient insulation.

Hopefully, the awareness that better insulation would be welcome will be accompanied by a renewal of the program to retrofit homes for energy efficiency.  As they say, it’s the low hanging fruit: it’s relatively easy to do, it sustains local jobs, it’s effective.  And it’s needed; space heating represents about a third of our carbon emissions.

And before the peanut gallery chimes in: snowy and cold in Vancouver in February does not disprove climate change.  If anything, it may be the opposite: climate change is about weather extremes, and this recent snowfall broke records.  Google up global wierding, or drunk polar vortex, you’ll see.

 

There are a few resources out there for home owners who want to improve their efficiency; try, for instance, myheat.ca, or the City of Vancouver, here and here.

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Written by enviropaul

February 7, 2017 at 12:08 pm

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