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Point Lepreau employees give a helping hand to Monarch Butterflies

September 18 2018, 11:03 AM

Point Lepreau employees give a helping hand to Monarch Butterflies

Every summer, Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station welcomes some unique visitors. It’s an ideal stop for Monarch Butterflies as they re-fuel for their 3,500 km journey to Mexico for the winter. The butterflies will feast on the fields of Goldenrod, Aster and Thistle, along with Milkweed planted by Station staff.

These plants are both a home and food source for Monarch butterfly eggs, and then the caterpillars which they become. This summer, these caterpillars ate through most of the planted milkweed at Lepreau, helping them grow quickly into their pupal (chrysalis) stage. But, while observing their progress, Point Lepreau Environmental Specialist, Carolyn Campbell noticed that a number of the caterpillars might struggle to find sufficient foliage and secure place to survive their pupal stage and devised a plan.

“After meeting the naturalist folks last year I took a huge interest in monarchs,” said Carolyn. “When I saw the 50+ caterpillars on the small patch of bare milkweed I knew we had to help. As a result of that so many other people are developing the passion that I now have to learn more and help out. It has been amazing to watch.”

In nature, only 10% to 15% of all these caterpillars survive long enough to reach their chrysalis stage.  The caterpillars typically attach themselves to the underside of a leaf, and then shed their striped caterpillar skin, revealing a turquoise-green colored camouflage which helps protect them against predators while they gradually change into their adult state inside this new cocoon-like state. To help these caterpillars beat the odds, Carolyn and a group of her peers at the Station worked quickly to build a special incubator for the caterpillars. By setting up this habitat for the caterpillars, Carolyn and team expect the likelihood of survival to be closer to 75% for these caterpillars.

Inside their new habitat, the caterpillars are set up on Milkweed clippings. Grated netting seals the top of the aquarium, providing a place for the larvae to weave a tiny silk pad that they’ll anchor the bottom of their abdomen to. They’ll hang here in this upside down position for 12 to 48 hours before extracting itself from its caterpillar skeleton and enter their pupal stage.

The caterpillars will remain in their cocoons for 8 to 15 days before they emerge as adult butterflies.

At first, the butterflies may be a bit weak. To help them get used to their new wings, Carolyn and team set up a special netting structure to place them to keep them safe while they get comfortable.

When they’re ready to take off, these butterflies will be tagged, with the help of the Jim Wilson of the Saint John Naturalists’ Club at their observatory on the Point, who has spent the last 12 years tagging these endangered butterflies. Once tagged, they will begin their journey to Mexico. Tagging helps provides data that is used to learn more about the migratory cycle and to protect it.

Point Lepreau is so important to the Monarch migration,” says Jim. “It has been a wonderful work with NB Power. We are very appreciative for this great relationship.”

The observatory at Point Lepreau is one of only two tagging stations in New Brunswick.

In 2017, Point Lepreau was designated an official Monarch Watch stop for these butterflies, due to all the undisturbed fields of pollinating species and the planted milkweed that the Monarchs need. Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration.

5 types of insulation you need to know to save energy at home

September 7 2018, 11:25 AM

5 types of insulation you need to know to save energy at home

When looking at energy-efficiency upgrades as part of your home renovation, upgrading your home’s insulation will give you the biggest return on investment. In New Brunswick, 50% of an average home’s energy use goes to heating. Only 6% of the housing stock in New Brunswick is insulated up to the current standards of the National Building Code. Choosing the right home insulation type for your renovation will help you save energy at home during both the heating and cooling seasons. Read on to learn more about the 5 types of insulation you need to know to help you save energy at home.

How insulation works

When we heat or cool our homes, and they aren’t well insulated, our homes become less comfortable as the heat finds ways to escape (in the winter), and enter (in the summer). Insulation creates a barrier between the inside and outside of your home to slow heat from leaving or entering.

When looking at upgrading your home insulation, be sure to look at the r-value of your insulation. The r-value varies based on the type, density and thickness of the material being used. The higher the r-value, the better it will perform.

Home insulation types

  1. Blown-in insulation
    This home insulation type is usually made of fiberglass or recycled paper fiber (known as cellulose.) It’s blown or sprayed into place and is ideal for hard-to-reach areas such as attics or wall cavities you don’t want to open up.



  2. Insulation batts
    Precut sections of fiberglass or rock wool insulation. Can be used in floors, walls, attics and ceilings.



  3. Insulation rolls
    Similar to insulation batts, but come in longer lengths- usually 20-40 feet. This insulation type is ideal for attics, floors and other areas where you need longer runs.



  4. Foam board insulation
    This insulation type comes in rigid panels made of polystyrene and polyurethane. Can be used to insulate almost any part of your home, especially exterior walls underneath your siding.


    Source: Brennan Builders


  5. Spray foam insulation
    Latex or polyurethane spray foam can be sprayed either with a can to help seal around windows and doors, or through special equipment in areas like basements and crawlspaces.



How much insulation do I need?

The best way to find out how much insulation you need to add to your home is to have a certified energy advisor come to your home to perform an energy evaluation. You can register through our Total Home Energy Savings program to set up and evaluation and receive money back for upgrading your home’s insulation.

We recommend upgrading your home’s insulation to reach the following r-values to make your home more comfortable and help you save on your bills.

  • Attic: R-60
  • Sloped/Cathedral Ceilings: R-30
  • Exterior/Main walls: R-30
  • Basement/Crawlspace Walls: R-30

Is insulation the next upgrade on your home renovation to-do list? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

Lepreau employees raise $2,850 for Bobby’s Hospice of Greater Saint John

September 7 2018, 10:10 AM

Lepreau employees raise $2,850 for Bobby’s Hospice of Greater Saint John

The 4th Annual Doug Wallace Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament was held on August 11 in Saint John. The slo-pitch Tournament is an annual fundraising initiative led by Point Lepreau staff in memory of Doug Wallace, well known union member and long-time NB Power employee.

Eight teams made up of NB Power employees and community members participated in the Tournament, raising a total of $2,850 for Bobby’s Hospice of Greater Saint John.

Team Security came in first place with team Operations coming in second.

In first place was Security – Back Row from left to right: Anna-Marie Adams, Keith Garnett, Dylan Jones, Vinnie Hosford, Shannon Tapper, Chris Dempsey, Vance Crozier Bottom row left to right: Katrina MacKinnon, Joe Mahoney, Litsa Dares, Keri Savoie​

In 2nd place was Operations – Back Row from left to right: Glen Beers, Carolyn Davis, Ted McWilliams, Marc Myles, Darren Logan, Ashley Logan, Dwayne Logan Bottom row from left to right: Katelyn Denton, Randy O’Donnell, Amy Raynes, and in front the official OPS Batboy Nicholas O’Donnell (9) Not Shown: Preston Boulos, Randy Davis

NB Power employees Randy O’Donnell and Adrice Bordage worked together to organize the tournament. “We’re very proud to have had this event take place and we look forward to doing it again next year,” said Randy.

Bobby's Hospice is a palliative care home that provides 24-hour medical care and support to people living with a terminal illness and grief support for those coping with the loss of a loved one.

Why LED’s flicker- and how to stop it

June 28 2018, 15:42 PM

Why LED’s flicker- and how to stop it

Have you installed LED light bulbs only to have them start flickering on and off? Well, you’re not alone.

LED fixtures/bulbs are operated by an electronic driver in which some are more susceptible to noise, {voltage fluctuations}, than others depending on the quality of the fixture/bulb.

So what’s causing the flicker? It could be a number of things. But most commonly, LED bulbs may flicker or dim in your home when there are voltage fluctuations in your home’s wiring.

When electrical loads turn on and off in your home, this creates a change in voltage levels, which may cause the LED lights to occasionally dim or flicker.

But there are other reasons that may be causing your lights to dim or flicker. Let’s take a look:

  1. Inrush current from appliances

    Certain appliances in your home need more power when they first turn on. The inrush current of motors within appliances causes the voltage to drop and if the lights are on the same circuit you may see dimming of these lights. This is true for many types of lighting including LED.

    You should already have appliances on separate breakers such as your fridge, stove, washer and dryer. If this isn’t the case then a certified electrician should be called to investigate further.
  1. Loose wiring or loose bulb

    Another thing that commonly causes flickering in LED bulbs is loose connections or circuits. This is easy to fix. Just screw the LED bulb in tighter to see of that fixes the problem.  If there’s a lot of dust in the fixture, first blow out the connection points to remove the dust before putting the bulb back in. 

    There may also be loose wiring at the fixture connection point. A certified electrician will disconnect power to the fixture and re-tighten the wiring to make sure it’s tight and secure. If there are numerous light fixtures dimming at the same time then the electrician will investigate at the panel and/or junction box to ensure that all connections are properly secured.
  1. Dimmer compatibility

    Some existing and even new dimmer switches may not be compatible with LED lighting or you may have a non-dimmable light in a dimmable fixture. Carefully reading the labeling on your bulbs and fixtures and making sure you have the right bulb for the job can fix this. Dimmers also have wattage ratings which differ depending on the type of light source whether it is LED, incandescent, etc. This affects the number of light fixtures on a dimmer depending on the individual wattages of each. The practise of ganging dimmers or switches within the same back box will also further de-rate the wattage the dimmer can safely handle. A certified electrician will determine by referring to the Canadian Electrical Code the correct load permitted.

    Be sure to buy high quality with recognized certification (CSA, ULc etc.), ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs when upgrading your lighting in your home. 

 

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 light bulbs, 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.

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