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How Your NB Power Home Energy Report Can Make You An Efficiency Expert

June 7 2018, 11:08 AM

How Your NB Power Home Energy Report Can Make You An Efficiency Expert

“The cheapest power is the power you don’t use” is a pretty good mantra at the beginning of an energy diet, or an energy efficiency journey, whatever you want to call it.

My husband and I have been on that path for a while now. For environmental and economic reasons we have been deliberate about what we consume and have put a lot of effort into using less power.

We thought we were doing very well, or assumed we were, anyway. It was an “I care, therefore I am” kind of approach to reducing the amount of power that we were  using -- I care therefore I must be using less power than everyone else.

But then we received our first home energy report.

The home energy report is a year-old initiative by NB Power to help New Brunswick households use less power. The idea is that if you actually understand how your power use compares to your neighbours’ power use you might decide to do something about it.

For us it was a bit more fundamental than that. Without an energy consumption benchmark, my husband and I could have gone on for years assuming that we were in the “green zone” and had nearly reached our capacity for household energy reduction. As it turns out, according to the energy report we’re pretty much in the middle when compared to comparable houses in our vicinity.  

NB Power’s home energy report has been our reality check, but it has also been a great source of info and guidance on our journey to reduce our household energy consumption.  

The online tool has been the greatest benefit. While the paper print out that we received in the mail is a simple snapshot,  the online energy report is a real resource.

If you truly want to reduce your household power consumption, for your pocketbook, the environment, or both, here are the sections of the online tool that I have found most helpful:

Under the tab “My Energy Use” you’ll be able to see your usage details, which parts of your home use the most energy and you’ll be able to compare your bills month over month or year over year. It’s this comparison tool that I find the most helpful. The tool factors in the number of billing days and the weather to provide a true comparison of your monthly spend. From there you can single out any behaviours or activities that lead to a change (or not) month over month.

Every step along the way offers ideas on how to use less power, including the top five tips for saving energy customized to your household (shaving an hour off shower time and ensuring our refrigerator seals are tight…) Many of the tips might seem like common sense (turn out the lights when you leave the room) but we can all use reminders from time to time.

Customers who interact with the tool online appreciate its value. That makes sense to me. The tool is empowering and encouraging and reminds you that there is always more you can do to use less power.

To get the most benefit out of the home energy report, visit www.nbpower.com/homeenergyreport and complete your household profile. From there you can explore the energy savings tips that make sense to your household. The data you submit includes how many people live in your home, the approximate square footage of your home, whether you use efficient lightbulbs, how you heat your home, the age of your heating system, if you have a stand-alone freezer or a second fridge, the type of fuel your hot water heater uses, the kinds of electronics in your home, and more. 

(The information you provide not only creates a more accurate comparison for you, it enables the database to make more customized efficiency recommendations for your household, based on what uses the most energy.)

We shouldn’t expect power rates to drop -- that simply doesn’t make sense in the world today. Instead, focus on something that does make sense, and something that you can control, which is finding ways to use less power. If that’s your goal, the home energy report might be your greatest helper.

Bridget Oland is a Saint John-based green living blogger with a passion for sustainable living, gardening, and spending time with her two kids. You can find out more at Bridget’s Green Kitchen.

Stay safe while working near electricity

May 17 2018, 12:00 PM

Stay safe while working near electricity

Weekends can be a perfect time to get outside and bring your yard back to life after winter. Whether you’re planning on pruning shrubs, cleaning out gutters or getting your cottage ready for the summer, your work could put you near power lines.

Be sure to look up and around for power lines before starting any job around your home this weekend. These lines have the power to injure or even kill. Keeping this in mind will help you and your family have a productive, fun and safe weekend.

Backyard cleanup

Need to get up and give those gutters a good cleaning? Make sure your ladder is the right height for you to reach your work area comfortably, and safely.

If there are power lines nearby, place your ladder at least 3 feet away from the line. If your ladder is too close, electrical arcing can occur, which could result in serious injury for you if you are on the ladder.

Treat all downed power lines as if they were live.  Stay at least 10 metres away from anything the lines may be touching, including water and fences. Never attempt to repair damaged power lines or remove tree limbs from power lines.

If water got into your property

Cleaning up from flooding or opening your summer property this weekend? Please make safety your first priority.

Check your electrical panel for damage.  If it is damaged, it must be replaced. Secure a licensed Electrical Contractor.

If your water heater has been damaged by water, contact us immediately. If you need to have your water heater replaced because of flooding, we will be waiving all fees associated with replacing your water for the Spring flood 2018.

If your power was disconnected during a flood, NB Power can safely reconnect your power after these steps have been completed.

If you have a safety concern contact us: 1 800 663-6272

How run-of-the-river stations work during the spring freshet

May 1 2018, 13:41 PM

How run-of-the-river stations work during the spring freshet

NB Power’s hydro facilities are located along the Saint John River system. They are “run of river” facilities with very little storage capability. Storage is measured in hours, unlike larger facilities like Churchill Falls in Labrador which can store water for months. Water coming from upstream into the headponds must be used for generation at that moment, or must be allowed to bypass the dam. Put simply, the water that flows in must flow out.

The Mactaquac Generating Station at full load passes water through at 80,000 cubic feet per second. Any flow greater than that must pass through the spill gates. Currently, the Saint John River flows at Mactaquac are more than 300,000 cubic feet per second. As a result, water at Mactaquac is passing through the spillways. At high flows, above plant generating capacity, the water coming in must be released immediately to maintain the proper slope on the headpond to allow the river to flow downstream.

Essentially the river returns to its natural state during high flow events. In order to maintain the natural flow of the river and allow the water to pass the facilities safely, NB Power has very specific operating guidelines.

Water naturally runs downhill. Increased water flow requires there is adequate slope on the river or headpond to continue the natural flow of the river. In order to accomplish this, NB Power lowers the Mactaquac headpond level at the dam to maintain this slope, thus allowing the passage of natural river flow. When the river flow decreases, the headpond level will return to normal levels.

In the lower Saint John River Basin the Reversing Falls in Saint John creates a natural barrier in the river system that is essentially the narrow end of the funnel. With the current river flows being greater than 300,000 cubic feet per second, approximately only half of that water can pass through the falls at low tide. As a result, a bathtub effect is created in the lower basin whereby the water that is not able to pass through the falls backs up and cause flooding. This is compounded during sustained high flows like New Brunswick is currently experiencing.

Higher than average snow fall in North Western New Brunswick and Northern Maine coupled with rain events has resulted in these sustained high flows.

NB Power’s highly trained staff works closely with Riverwatch, the province’s Emergency Measures Organization and communities all along the river during these events.

NB Power is constantly observing and communicating river and station conditions with the goal of operating facilities with the least possible impact on the natural flow of the river while doing everything possible to keep its infrastructure and people safe.

               

Bathurst drive-in diner sees benefits and savings with lighting upgrades

April 19 2018, 11:42 AM

Bathurst drive-in diner sees benefits and savings with lighting upgrades

Running a small business isn’t easy.

If you own or run a small company in New Brunswick, you juggle dozens of responsibilities every single day. One of those is managing your operating costs.

We’re here to help. Through our Small Business Lighting Program, Bathurst’s Big D Drive-Ins Diner was able to upgrade their lighting and will save $1,400 annually.

With a $2,592 incentive from NB Power, Big D Drive-Ins invested $6,020 into lighting upgrades – replacing their incandescent, metal halide and T12 lights with more efficient LED ones. Their estimated monthly savings of $120 translates to around $1,400 annually.

“We are extremely happy with our results thanks to the Small Business Lighting Program. As New Brunswick’s only drive-in restaurant, it is very important for us to be well-lit, especially in the winter months,” said Richard Dobson, owner of Big D Drive-Ins Diner. “Our business is now more visible, for less cost.”

Businesses participating in the program will save money on their monthly electricity bill, and also get a rebate of $0.17 for every kilowatt hour saved up to $7,500.

Eligible businesses work with an approved service provider to identify the right changes for their building. That can include things like new light fixtures, bulbs and controls that will help reduce the amount of energy consumed. We will review the statement of work for your upgrades and then you have 120 days to complete them and submit your claim for the rebate payment.

Just like that, up to $7,500 in your pocket.

New and improved lighting will make your business better. Customers will have a better view of your business, greater visibility means increased safety and you will create an overall better work environment for your employees.

You’ll also continue to enjoy longer-term savings every month with lower electricity bills. What can you do to grow your business with these savings?

Plus, you’re doing your part for the environment. Cutting down on electricity consumption means a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Who qualifies for the program? You’re in luck if you own, manage or lease a building in New Brunswick that is at least two years old and consumes less than 100 MWh/yr. You also must be an NB Power Service I or II customer (or the equivalent category with Saint John Energy, Edmundston Energy or Perth-Andover Light Commission.) And, your account has to be in good standing.

If you don’t qualify for the Small Building Lighting Program, check out our Commercial Building Retrofit Program for larger businesses and buildings in New Brunswick.

Want to learn more about our Small Business Lighting Program? Visit the program website, call us at 1-800-663-6272 (press 5) or email us at CEES-SEEC@nbpower.com.

Don't delay. Get started on saving with the Small Business Lighting Program.

 

Empowering the next generation – Carolyn Campbell helps NB women discover the joy of STEM careers

March 8 2018, 10:50 AM

Empowering the next generation – Carolyn Campbell helps NB women discover the joy of STEM careers

Carolyn Campbell’s family-oriented focus is apparent when speaking with her and she understands the benefits of positive role models while raising her young daughter, especially in her line of work.

Carolyn is an Environmental Specialist at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. It was family that brought her back to New Brunswick in 2007, after working in Ontario for three years. She now lives in the Saint John area, where she grew up.

“Being away from my family was difficult for me,” she said.  “Now that I am a mom myself, I couldn’t imagine not having my family nearby. I couldn’t survive without their support.”

Her role with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission brought her back home, where she got to work closely with employees at Point Lepreau. It wasn’t until last year though, after taking a short hiatus from the nuclear industry that Carolyn returned to the point, but this time as an NB Power employee. As soon as she was back, she knew it was the right place to be.

“Since the day I started, actually even on the day of my interview, I felt like I was coming home, and was surrounded by family,” she said. “Everyone wants to see you succeed. They want the team to succeed.  And that is something I have not felt in any other place I’ve worked. It is pretty special, and the people are what make Lepreau an amazing place to work.”

As an Environmental Specialist Carolyn works to ensure that NB Power is meeting environmental regulatory commitments. She does this through data collection and analysis for submission into monthly and annual reports. She also helps work groups understand the potential environmental risks of the work they are doing, and works with them to mitigate the risks. She spends a lot of time in the field at PLNGS to ensure that we are always doing the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment.

She also liaises with regulatory agencies, our corporate office, and sometimes other NB Power facilities to understand and apply provincial and federal regulations, and then relay those regulations to the appropriate individuals in the field doing the work.

Outside of work, Carolyn is helping the next generation of New Brunswick women discover the joy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. She mentors with Skills Canada NB and volunteers with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick (APEGNB) to give presentations to high schools. 

“STEM careers are exploding and having women in New Brunswick in these roles shows the young women and girls here that it’s possible. It gives them a goal to aspire to, and most importantly, it lets them know that they can do anything that they want to do. That’s what I tell my 7 year old daughter as often as I can,” she adds. “Women and girls have amazing ideas, many have interests that are within the STEM field and have so much to contribute.”

Carolyn believes it’s important to share stories like hers because people are always looking for people who remind them of themselves.

“The more people share, the more likely someone is to see something that they can relate to, and help them realize that they can accomplish the same kinds of things.”

 

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