Posted by: energyblogwalter | July 19, 2009

Ontario Net Metering + White Rooftop = Crazy Savings

There’s a way that Ontarians can help themselves to energy savings not widely publicized other than the net-metering options available.  I’ll detail that option more below.

Generally though, Ontarians interested in adding renewables to their home have to take on the brunt of the setup costs. From Ministry of Energy (Ontario) brochure

“””Electricity consumers in Ontario who produce some of their own power may now take advantage of ‘net metering.’ The Ministry of Energy has filed a net metering regulation, which allows electricity customers who install their own renewable generation equipment to return electricity to the grid for credit. The new regulation eliminates inconsistencies across the province and requires that distributors permit net metering for all eligible projects that produce up to 500 kilowatts. Projects that produce electricity from clean sources such as water, wind, solar power and farm biomass are eligible.

The Ministry has produced a brochure to assist consumers who are interested in learning more about net metering.”””

Interesting to note that even with a Green Act in place now and three years of net metering brochures, the process still requires you to call another three different sources to get started.  (Utility, Electricians and Gov’t).  Mmmm smell that paperwork!  Not yet an integrated or easy turn key solution.

Sure, go for it, the savings are certainly there, but ask along the way, why isn’t this online?  Why did I have to call you?  Are you old?  The Internet should be used as a focal point for examples, testimonials, and articles on how to size and certify along with timetable averages for completion for different systems to give people a general idea of what to expect.  I would have made it a magazine style with tips and tricks.  1-800 numbers seem to waste our time.  Sell it, don’t bury it!

Given a chance I’d definitely go for it.  Geothermal cooling alone would eliminate air conditioning costs.

Links follow: (click on Net Metering)

Part II: Paint the Roof White:

BEFORE you lay out the cashola though… and since you have to pay for a chunk of it anyway….  Paint the Roof White! … and you’ll find you didn’t need a big budget after all.

Paint the roof white to save an additional 20-30% off costs of cooling and heating across the board would be a whole lot easier than adding new energy capacity no matter where you live. (Of course this is not listed on the Ontario website).

Note that painting a roof white does not need to meet Utility, Electrician cashola monthly payments nor any political jamboree songs but simple Municipal safety guidelines.  Any roofing company or painting company renovator can do it, there are dozens of companies are they not?  We don’t need specialized and expensive approval from electricians and bureaucrats..yuck.

No, it turns out a white roof is the cheapest thing YOU CAN DO right now and laugh in the face of your electricity bill and city councillors.  Afterwards if you can by all means go and scale for a net-metering system.  Saving your money first though will allow you peace of mind and immediate improvement.

“Now you smile, but if you look at all the buildings and make all the roofs white, and if you make the pavement a more concrete-type of colour than a black-type of colour, and you do this uniformly… It’s the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years,” he said.

“It’s like you’ve just taken them off the road for 11 years. It’s actually geoengineering.”

General notes on cooling rooftops from Wikipedia:

Finally I’ll mention a Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) Study from 2001.  Here are your tax dollars at work showing how energy savings are studied and what they found.  Google rocks again.

Ontario’s Green Act is seeking supply, but in doing so they are ignoring cutting demand.  Making houses all around us as powerplants is commendable, however this is not the only solution.

Cutting demand first with a white roof would put our energy needs into better context before we spend serious money on other opportunities in the Green Act. Save your money.



  1. I think they are going to make subsidies per kW or per kWh for self-generation that will make those who build it so that you earn more than the cost of the electricity you produce.

  2. yes I do believe that is a part of ensuring investment with Ontario’s new Green Act. This is the same approach that worked in Texas or Europe or wherever with positive results. Although critics abound, this ends up being cheaper than creating an investment fund and accompanying bureaucracy. I think it’s a good incentive in the right direction.

    If they can get Ontario farmers on side they can do a lot of co-generation. I hope this means that the provincial co-generation war is over?

  3. updated post for July 2009 with new links as well as commentary on White Rooftops for your net-metering pleasure

  4. Everybody is aware with the fact that darker materials absorb more heat from sun than white/light colors, but an interesting data I want to share that black surface in the sun can be 40°C (70°F) hotter than the reflective white surface. This phenomenon occurs in the case of roofs also and heated roof then transfer their heat to surrounded air and contribute to heat island effect, while reflective metallic/ ceramic roof can reflect 65-75 %solar light. According to California energy commissioner “White roofs can cut a building’s energy use by 20% and save consumers money,” and “The potential energy savings in the U.S. is in excess of $1 billion annually.”

  5. right, so we can save 20% of our energy needs and basically not even hit the lifestyle changes yet. There’s our GHG reductions right there.

    Thanks for the links!

    I’m often reminded of our mindlessness by seeing vast expanses of housing all with black rooftops. We have to start businesses for roof renovation and pass a city bylaw or something. We’re just throwing energy away

  6. […] This is an extension of my post Ontario Net Metering + White Rooftop = Crazy Savings […]

  7. If you’re curious… compare temperature data on roof materials

    ::: Sources: and :::

    First link, compare Asphalt to Coatings: White (CW). In CW look at Table 2, and you’ll find white coatings 1 and 2 with reflective levels of 100 and 107 with surface temperatures of 9 F. Go back click Asphalt and compare to black asphalt tile (at the bottom), with reflective 1 and temp of 82 F. Easy. Considering our winters and summers, our rooftops could last years longer without high levels of expansion and cooling as well as the savings on your energy bills that I’m harping

    People often remark that winter heating is helped with a black roof. But Chu mentions that for a white roof in the next post that there’s a slight uptick instead. With a black roof anyway there is a stack effect, so I’m skeptical that the colour is enough to hold back change. Why not ditch them? They’re black for historical reasons only (pitch and tar are waterproof) not 21st century reasons (cost and reduced waste). Get a little painting done and reap the benefits, based on real data.

    This is why painting a roof looks interesting to me.

  8. Hmm, Chu says 10-15% in this youtube clip but others have 20%. I guess we’ll have to ballpark it due to usage.

    US Energy Secretary Steven Chu on The Daily Show on July 21st on Youtube (Part 2) but I can’t find Part 3

  9. You know that if we can apply this theory to things like car tops and allthe roads then we can save evenmore! it wllbe great. I think this Ideais one of the best ones yet. If you want even mir infocheck out climate wars by Gwynne Dyer. its all about climates and three fast ways we can change it

  10. thank you. yes as it happens I’ve also read Climate Wars. Great book to put together logical scenarios and their conclusions from current data. Gives us an idea what we’re up against if we really want to solve any problem. Whatever we do in whatever shape it takes, it will take more than a sound bite or tabloid journalism, but real sustained effort with real intentions.

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