Rossland held the notorious tag as the fattest energy town in B.C last year.
But thanks to a successful pilot project diet in the winter, the Golden City pulled its fat out of the frier and slimmed down its usage.
The successful energy diet—22 per cent participation in the city and 80 per cent of projects complete—is back with phase two in a West Kootenay-Boundary-wide program with Rossland also back on the scales.
The second phase of the program could not only slim down the energy usage of even more Rossland homes, but it could help the city achieve its designation as a carbon neutral community.
Two weeks ago the city lost that designation when it opted to not buy offsets for its carbon emissions for the year, and instead use the grant money (around $10,000) for local projects.
In order to be eligible for a Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) grant from the province the city has to come up with 400 tonnes of carbon offsets or reductions every year to counteract the estimated carbon produced by city operations.
The city can buy carbon offsets through the Pacific Carbon Trust for $25 per tonne, but the money goes out of the community.
Aaron Cosbey of the Energy Diet program said spending the money in the city and offsetting the cost of an energy assessment in the Energy Diet program—$60—helps reduce emissions outside of the corporate entity and would qualify the city for the CARIP grant.
The average reduction in carbon for each household participating in the program last year was 2.5 tonnes per year. He said the Energy Diet was an extremely cost effective project, spending $2,500 once for savings that are gained back every year, instead of $10,000 every year.
“The reductions you get out of this program are in perpetuity. You are saving 2.5 tonnes every year because you have increased the energy efficiency of those households,” he said.
Other municipal governments have elected to pay for the first few assessments in order to encourage people to undertake the diet, or to subsidize the amount. Whether Rossland city council elects to follows suit or not is yet to be seen.
And around $1.6 million was spent in the local economy that winter and it is estimated that 340 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided in the city as Rosslanders realized a savings of 20-50 per cent on their home energy bills.
To participate in the Kootenay Energy Diet, Rosslanders can register in person at an introductory information session on June 12 (7-9 p.m.) at Miners’ Union Hall.
If homeowners can’t attend the information session, they can complete an online application form and submit it within six weeks of the session in their community.
Once people are registered, FortisBC will help them through the next steps, conducting an initial home energy assessment with a certified energy advisor, make a commitment to complete at least one home energy efficiency upgrade before Dec. 31, complete a post-retrofit evaluation before March 31, 2014 and keep all retrofit receipts and submit at the post retrofit evaluation to receive rebates
For LiveSmart BC rebates, participants must book and complete the post assessment prior to March 31, 2014.
Starting last week, the Kootenay Energy Diet is intended to support local homeowners in learning about their home’s energy efficiency and better manage their own habits with natural gas and electricity usage.
This will help them to have a more comfortable home and one that is affordable to operate.
“The most important thing people can do to reduce energy use is to ensure their homes have ample insulation so it doesn’t leak heat and have drafts,” said Shelley Hastie, PowerSense community ambassador.
The second most important thing to do is improve a heating system, whether it is gas or electric. And thirdly, review hot water tanks and the amount of hot water they use.
The average LiveSmart qualified retrofit reduces energy use by 20 to 50 per cent. If customers improve their insulation and air sealing and heating system, they’re more likely to have savings in the 50 per cent range, said Hastie. If they chose only to change out their windows and doors, the savings would be in the five to seven per cent range.
How it works
Kootenay Energy Diet participants receive a subsidized home energy assessment, which includes the installation of free energy efficiency products like low-flow shower heads and CFL lighting (participants pay $60, normal cost is approximately $400).
People can also access the LiveSmart BC and FortisBC rebate programs (up to $4,000 from LiveSmart and $2,000 for from FortisBC) and a low-interest, long-amortization loan program through local credit unions. In addition, there will be a local energy coach to provide them with personalized service and information.
The home energy assessment provides independent third-party energy efficiency advice for existing homes and handles the paperwork to ensure eligibility for incentives from LiveSmart BC and FortisBC.
Homeowners will also gain an energy efficiency rating label of their home that can increase the home’s resale potential by providing evidence of “invisible” energy improvements in existing homes.
The assessment estimates energy consumption, makes energy efficiency recommendations and gives estimated reductions in energy use should each recommendation be implemented.
Getting signed up
To qualify for the Kootenay Energy Diet and the energy assessment required to access the LiveSmart BC Efficiency Incentives program, people must live within the Kootenay Boundary Regional District and be an electric customer of ForticBC.
Only homes built prior to 2006 will be eligible for the FortisBC energy assessment subsidy, and the primary heating system must be gas or electric.
To learn more about the program, homeowners can contact Shelley Hastie, PowerSense Community Ambassador, at 250-368-1918, by email at email@example.com or visit fortisbc.com/energydiet.