How One TD Leader Made His Home Net Zero Energy

How One TD Leader Made His Home Net Zero Energy

by Peter van Dijk, Senior Vice President, Finance, TD Bank group

Multimedia from this Release

Peter van Dijk, SVP, TD Bank Group

Home wind turbine: power generation meets art

Monday, June 9, 2014 - 5:00pm


If I'm honest it started as a joke. It was April Fool's Day, and with a straight face I said to the guy who had installed the 40 solar panels on the roof of my home in Oakville, Ontario, that I would now like to have a wind turbine installed. I thought I'd be greeted with a look that said, "This one's a bit of a nutter," but instead Mihai gave me the name of a company that specialized in home wind turbines.

I couldn't quite envision a wind turbine whirling away in my backyard – or, more to the point, my neighbors' reaction to it. But I was curious, so I contacted the company and learned that having a home wind turbine was not only possible but made a lot of sense.

So first off, it bears little resemblance to the propeller-like ones you see on wind farms. At 52 feet tall (a 10-foot vertical axis atop a 42-foot tower) and six feet across at its widest, my wind turbine is much smaller and, as one neighbor said, looks more like a piece of metal art than something that produces power. But it does – it's a one kilowatt turbine and generates enough power to meet a good portion of the electricity needs of my house. While the power generated by my solar panels is fed into the provincial power grid (for which I receive a monthly payment), the electricity produced by my wind turbine is converted into usable power that's used directly with the excess stored in batteries.

So why have I gone into the home power-generation business? I'm concerned about the environment, and I wanted to actually do something that would make a difference. One net-zero-energy home may not make a huge impact, but I figure I'm setting an example and providing a model of how you can reduce your carbon footprint to virtually nothing without compromising quality of life.

But lest I sound too pious, I should admit to another agenda – one that's all about my personal bottom line. The reality is the funds I receive for the solar energy I supply to the power grid more than cover the payments on the loan I took out for my solar panels. After seven years it will be paid off and then it will all be cash in hand. The wind turbine – or windmill as I like to call it – reduces my energy costs, but it'll take longer to see a return on my investment – about 15 years. Fiscally speaking, it may not be the best investment, but for a former Dutchman, working for the green bank, how could I resist?  

TD echoes Peter van Dijk's commitment to the environment.  To find out more, visit our 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report