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Tiny Homes, Big Community

December 21 2022, 11:30 AM

Tiny Homes, Big Community

Over the past few years, tiny homes have become a popular housing solution around the world. With their lower costs and smaller footprint, these structures are helping to reshape communities. Tiny homes have become a social movement as people look to downsize and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

New Brunswick entrepreneur Marcel LeBrun has registered over 70 tiny homes in the New Home Energy Savings Program and has completed construction on 35 homes as of fall 2022. When Marcel first contacted our efficiency team, we knew this was a special project and we were very excited to be part of it.

"Marcel is a visionary, and these are the types of projects that will help us to reach our goal of cleaner energy for the future," said Lori Clark, President and CEO of NB Power, “we are very proud to partner with Marcel on this development.”

Left to right, 12 Neighbours Community Resident, Marcel LeBrun Founder, and Lori Clark President and CEO of NB Power

 

Our team gave Marcel energy efficiency kits, advice tailored to the unique energy needs of tiny homes, and $10,000 in incentives for each home. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see this community take shape as a world-class example of what is possible when we create a space with dignified housing, a supportive community, and developmental opportunity. I’m very appreciative of NB Power for their guidance and support through the New Home Energy Savings Program,” said Marcel LeBrun Founder of the 12 Neighbours Community.

The homes are approximately 240 square feet and have a bathroom, a full kitchen including a 2-burner induction stovetop and apartment sized fridge, cathedral ceilings, a covered front deck, and are equipped with energy efficient LED lighting. The new homes are airtight with a thermal envelope that is 105% better than code standards, with excellent ventilation through a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV). Each home has energy efficient features such as rigid insulation, which is one of the best tools to reduce energy costs, and triple glazed windows that reduce noise and deliver greater energy. Homes are equipped with 3.3 kW of solar panels, connecting approximately 30 homes to a 600 Amp service entrance resulting in a large distributed 100 kW solar array across each group of 30 homes, keeping within the Net Metering Policy.  

From left to right; Jeffrey St-Pierre, NB Power Technical Energy Advisor, Marcel Lebrun, 12 Neighbours Community Founder and Chairman, and Diane Spencer, NB Power Program Lead inside a tiny home.

Marcel is building more than just tiny homes. He is building a community. Everyone deserves safe, affordable, and permanent housing. Even more special is the vision for this community to see people overcome barriers to living a full and independent life. The community offers supports that help members achieve their personal goals, which may include substance use recovery counselling, opportunities to improve their health and education, and low barrier employment opportunities.

This community was a great opportunity for us at NB Power to learn from the vision of a local entrepreneur. We are very proud to partner with Marcel and are excited to watch this community grow and thrive. 

To learn more about the tiny home community visit 12neighbours.com.

From left to right; Diane Spencer, NB Power Program Lead, Jeffrey St-Pierre, NB Power Technical Energy Advisor, and Miles Goff, Technical Energy Advisor in the 12 Neighbours Community.

Three Takeaways from the 2022 Energizing Efficiency Conference

June 17 2022, 10:03 AM

Three Takeaways from the 2022 Energizing Efficiency Conference

NB Power’s Energizing Efficiency Conference made a strong comeback last week, after a three-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions.

The 2022 event took place June 7 and 8 at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre. More than 280 people attended the conference and dinner, representing diverse business sectors, organizations and education centers.

From municipal utilities to efficiency service organizations and technology firms to not-for-profits, it was a great mix of participants, leading to exciting conversations and ideas.

Here are our top three takeaways from the conference:

  1. Connecting

    Our conference was the first large in-person event in a long time for many attendees. There was a genuine sense of excitement about being together in the same room, instead of a virtual meeting like many are now used to. There were countless opportunities for networking; some attendees met for the first time, while others had the chance to reconnect and catch up after years apart.

    Beyond the typical exchange of business cards and handshakes, we also saw lots of digital connections made through our conference app and LinkedIn.

    One attendee shared that the first morning of the conference felt like the first day of school, with everyone trying to remember social etiquette after a long break. Those who had first day jitters quickly shook the feeling as they settled into a full agenda of keynotes and breakout sessions.

  1. Learning

    The calibre of presenters and the information they shared was top-notch. Several attendees said the Energizing Efficiency Conference was on par or better than any they’ve attended.

    There was something for everyone, with a full agenda to allow you to tailor your experience to your knowledge and interests. There were two keynotes: The Future of Transportation in Canada by Nino Di Cara, President and Founder, Electric Autonomy Canada, and Energizing Efficiency by Embracing Your Inner Sales Professional by Mark Jewell, President, Selling Energy.

    Throughout the two-day event, knowledgeable experts shared their learnings and perspectives on topics from helping low income homeowners to building code developments, and from First Nations sustainable building projects to managing HVAC systems.

    A common theme throughout the sessions focused on the many reasons for people to care about energy efficiency, including climate change, cost-savings, comfort, productivity, safety and demonstrating environmental leadership. 

    Electric vehicles were also a topic on everyone’s mind, with a Tesla parked in the tradeshow hall and test drives offered to attendees through our EV Test Drive Tour with Plug’n Drive.

  1. Collaborating

    The most thrilling takeaway is the collaboration between everyone at the conference. You could see the “AHA” moments happening throughout the convention centre as individuals came together and recognized how they could work together to fulfill common goals.

    People left sessions feeling inspired and bubbling over with excitement about how to take what they had learned and the connections they had made back to their organizations to be able to help even more New Brunswickers.

    Ideas for projects and research came to light even during the question-and-answer portions of presentations, showing that putting the right people together can result in amazing things.

Tracey Somers, our Conference Lead, was thrilled by the feedback from attendees.

“To be able to offer a first-class conference experience here in New Brunswick makes us incredibly proud,” Tracey said. “Bringing together energy and community leaders to network and learn and ultimately, help New Brunswickers save energy, help the environment and drive our economy, is really what the conference is all about.”

Plans are already underway for the 2023 conference. Connect with us if you have topic or speaker ideas.

 

A special thank you to our conference sponsors:

 

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

 

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Conference App Sponsor

 

New Brunswickers take action to help Beat the Peak

January 21 2022, 10:19 AM

New Brunswickers take action to help Beat the Peak

With extremely cold temperatures across the province last week, we asked everyone to reduce their energy consumption to help New Brunswick Beat the Peak.

And it worked!

Peak electricity demand happens in the morning from 6 until 9, and in the afternoon from 4 until 8, when most families begin and wind down their days.

Thanks to the many customers who made small changes to reduce or delay energy use during peak demand periods, we reduced the need to use the most carbon-based energy to power New Brunswick during the cold snap.

Here’s how high in-province demand peaked last week:

January 11, 8-9 a.m. - 3,028 megawatts (MW)

January 11, 6-7 p.m. - 2,936 MW

January 12, 8-9 a.m. - 3,177 MW (second highest demand of all-time!)

The record for peak electricity demand in New Brunswick happened in January 2004, at 3,326 MW in the morning. For comparison, we only need about 1,500 MW to meet the needs of customers on a typical summer morning.

It’s our job to meet New Brunswickers’ energy needs all year-long and we had an opportunity to reduce the need for the most expensive energy. It was important for us to do our part, so early last week, many of our employees took steps to be ready for the peak periods.

  • Teams identified and implemented energy savings at NB Power generating stations and offices to reduce our own consumption. These actions included lowering temperatures in unoccupied spaces and delaying the operation of some of our equipment in our plants.
  • Generation employees readied and tested our reserve combustion turbine energy sources at Millbank, Ste. Rose and Grand Manan so they’d be ready if needed.
  • We dispatched our Peak Rebate Program, where 50 commercial and industrial customers who have signed up to work with us on peak demand through the winter months take action to reduce energy use for two-hour periods.
  • Our Key Account Specialists reached out to dozens of business customers who represent much of the energy use in the province. Most business owners and managers said that they appreciated the heads up and chance to make changes that would help them manage energy costs as well.
  • We partnered with municipal electric utilities in the province, including Saint John Energy who issued its own Shave the Peak alerts for their customers.
  • We shared information with New Brunswickers on social media, by email and on local radio stations to encourage everyone to join the effort.

Jean Marc Landry, NB Power’s Chief Customer Officer, is energized by New Brunswickers’ enthusiasm and interest in beating the peak. Many energy companies engage customers to help manage peak demand events in North America.

“It was great to hear how receptive our business customers were to making adjustments to their operations for a couple of days,” said Jean Marc. “They recognized that saving energy would not only help the province, but their bottom lines.”

Since this was the first time in years that NB Power asked customers to help Beat the Peak for specific dates, there were lots of discussions and questions.

“We recognize that this is a difficult time for many New Brunswickers, especially with so many working and learning from home,” said Jean Marc. “Thank you to all customers who made a small change to their routines to help lower overall demand of electricity during the morning and early evening periods. Together, we were able to avoid using the most expensive and least environmentally sustainable energy sources, which benefits the whole province.”

Thankfully, cold snaps like the one experienced last week are temporary, and so are our requests for New Brunswickers to use less power. But saving energy is always a good thing to do, for managing your power bill and helping the environment.

Thank you, New Brunswick!

What about Electric Vehicles?

On social media, we received lots of questions and comments about how Beat the Peak efforts would affect electric vehicles (EVs).

Most electric vehicle owners charge at home in the overnight hours, which has minimal impact on the morning and afternoon peak electricity periods. Electric vehicles also allow owners to schedule when they charge (to avoid peak periods) – the same way you might schedule a dishwasher to run on a 4-hour delay.

In the future, EV batteries will likely be a key part of our smart grid because they could be used as a source of power during times like these or during power outages.

 

12 simple energy saving tips for working and learning from home

December 8 2020, 11:26 AM

12 simple energy saving tips for working and learning from home

For many New Brunswickers, this will be the first winter that family members will be home on weekdays, whether they’re working remotely or doing virtual learning.

This pandemic-related lifestyle change has many impacts, from less lonely pets to going through more groceries.

Telecommuting can also result in higher than expected energy bills because people are home more often.

That’s why we want to share these 12 easy energy saving tips. By making small adjustments at home, you can save energy and reduce your bill – all while helping the environment.

You can find these tips and more by accessing the My Energy Portal on our website. If you’re ready to make upgrades to your home’s efficiency, check out the advice and incentives offered through our Total Home Energy Savings Program.

Manage your technology

  1. Set your computer and monitor to go into "sleep" or "hibernate" mode after 20 minutes of inactivity. These modes draw less power while keeping programs open for when you return to work. Don’t bother with a screensaver – it uses just as much energy as an active computer.
  2. Don’t forget to turn off your computer at night and on weekends. This could save you up to one-third of your computer’s energy costs.
  3. Many electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are turned off – this is known as phantom power. By unplugging devices and chargers when they are not in use, you can avoid paying for this extra energy. This includes devices such as TVs, video game systems, printers, coffee makers and cell phone chargers. If a device has a rectangular adapter box on its plug that stays warm, it’s a sure sign that it’s drawing power even when off.
  4. Consider using power bars for devices that are difficult to unplug frequently. With a flip of the switch, you can easily cut off power to multiple devices at once, saving time, energy, and money.
  5. When purchasing new home office equipment, always choose ones that are energy efficient.

Optimize your lighting

  1. Take advantage of natural light to reduce your need for artificial lighting. Plus, natural light is known to be good for your mental health and productivity.
  2. While overhead bulbs can brighten a space, they often use more light than you need. Using a kitchen counter light while preparing dinner, or a small lamp to read, brings better light to the task at hand and saves energy. Using directed light while working also reduces eye strain.
  3. Switch bulbs to LEDs to reduce the amount of electricity used. Consider using smart bulbs with timers or phone apps to customize your lighting colour, timing and brightness.

Adjust your heating

  1. Put on a cozy sweater and try lowering your thermostat a few degrees. You can save about 2% on your heating bills by simply turning your thermostat down 1°C for eight hours. A cooler workspace can also improve alertness.
  2. Run ceiling fans at low speed in reverse during the winter, which creates an updraft that sends warmer air pooled near the ceiling back down into the living space.
  3. Check your heating system air filters and replace them if they are dirty. Clean filters use less energy and reduce the strain on your system.
  4. Let the sun help heat your home. South-facing windows have the most potential for heat gain. Keep the drapes open and windows clear in order to let the most light in.

 

 

5 tips for a successful summer renovation

June 28 2019, 14:14 PM

5 tips for a successful summer renovation

Summer can be the perfect time for home renovations and energy efficiency should be top of mind. Our Total Home Energy Savings Program can help. Big or small- a renovation can make a big impact on the look, comfort and even value of your home. But where should you start? We’ve asked our in-house building expert, Lauren Lipka for his top tips to help make your renovation a success.

Start with a plan

Sounds simple- but a little bit of planning can go a long way to making your renovation a success. Write down your goals, what your needs are and include a wish list or Pinterest inspiration board. That all-white kitchen, though stunning, might not be the right fit if you like to cook big meals or have young kids.

From his years of building experience with the Canadian Home Builders Association, Lauren says that your renovation goals should reflect how you live day-to-day. You’ll want to factor in things like how people move through, and use the space you’re renovating. You’ll want to make sure your goals and plan fit into your budget.

Find your perfect contractors

Whether it’s a big or small renovation, a reputable contractor can help make sure the job is done right; under your budget and help you navigate and get any needed permits. Home renovations can come with lots of surprises. A reputable contractor can help you make the best calls when an unexpected expense or issue pops up mid-reno. They also know the ins and outs of local and National building codes and can ensure your renovation is done the right way to help keep you safe. Great contractors have a track record of satisfied customers and can provide you with customer references upon request. We encourage customers to obtain three quotes and references prior to selecting a contractor.

Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Want a renovation that puts money back in your pocket? Consider how you can build efficiency into your plan. Upgrading appliances? Look for the ENERGY STAR® certified label. Redoing your kitchen? Opt for LED lighting to brighten up your cooking space.

If you’re doing a major remodel, Lauren recommends having a certified Energy Advisor come and do an evaluation of your home through the Total Home Energy Savings Program. These evaluations show you where heat or cool air are leaking from your home. Energy Advisors will recommend upgrades that help improve your home’s envelope to keep your heating or cooling inside where it belongs. This keeps you and your family more comfortable year round. Plus, when you’re not heating the outdoors, it’s good for your wallet too. Check out this video to see what else is involved in an energy evaluation.

Make Your Home Healthier

What better outcome from a renovation than to have a healthy, comfortable home for you and your family? This can be of even bigger benefit if someone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma or other health conditions. Consider ENERGY STAR certified air exchangers, dehumidifiers or heat pumps when doing your renovation. They’ll not only make the air in your home cleaner, but they’ll help save you money in the long run too.

Think Green

Did you know there are lots of products on the market that are sustainably made or environmentally friendly? From lumber to flooring, there are many ways you can green up your renovation. Cork flooring is one flooring option that’s a sustainable choice. Consider natural stone for counter tops for a sleek, yet environmentally friendly option. Roof shingles made from recycled plastic, sustainably certified lumber and composite beams are all great options as well. Check with your contractor or local renovation store for the best green options near you.

 

What is your biggest renovation lesson? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

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