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How to make your holidays safe and energy efficient

December 12 2018, 15:52 PM

How to make your holidays safe and energy efficient

The holidays are almost here. For many, that means it’s time to dig out the lights, get out the holiday décor and trim those trees. Did you know it’s also a great time to use less energy? If you’re planning on stringing up some lights inside and outside your home this holiday, be sure to consider switching to LEDs (light emitting diodes.)

Using ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights is a great alternative to save power, since LED lights use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Traditional bulbs consume about 7 watts of electricity per hour, per bulb, while LEDs use about 2 watts per hour, per strand.

Let’s take a look at what that translates to in dollars.

Light bulb type

Strands of Lights (50 bulbs/ strand)

Total cost (at $.1059/ KwH)

Traditional

6

$41

LED

6

$1.18

*based on bulbs running for 6 hours a day for 31 days. 

Another way you can control how much energy your holiday lights use, put both your indoor and outdoor lights on timers, and set them to turn on and off at set times.

Keep it safe

If you’ve got a lot of light-up decorations in your home, be careful not to plug too many into one outlet. It could result in heat building up in the wires, which could lead to a fire.

Here are a few other easy steps you can take in your home to help keep your family safe from electrical fires:

  • Make sure all extension cords and electric decorations are marked for proper use.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor decorations before going to sleep or leaving home.
  • When decorating outdoors keep yourself at least 10 meters away from power lines to keep yourself safe from electrical arching.
  • Make sure outdoor electric decorations are labelled for outdoor use.
  • Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires and loose connections may result in shock or fire.
  • Modern lights have fused plugs, preventing sparks in case of a short circuit. Get rid of old lights that don’t have fuses and get a set of newer, safer lights.

By incorporating these habits into your routine each year, you can ensure your family has a safe, energy-efficient and happy holiday season. Visit the safety and save energy sections of our website for more great tips to use in your home.

 

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!

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

5 ways to avoid unexpectedly high bills this winter

January 24 2018, 15:09 PM

5 ways to avoid unexpectedly high bills this winter

In New Brunswick, many homes are heated with electricity, so it’s no surprise that our homes use more energy in the winter. Space heating can account for 50% of homeowners annual energy use. So every time you crank that thermostat, it could end up being costly.

But there are some ways you can help fight the power bill blues this winter. Let’s take a look!

  1. Seal up drafts

Draft proofing is one of the most important upgrades you can make it in your home. It’s also one of the easiest and least expensive.

Fixing air leaks can save you up to 20% on your bills and make your home more comfortable by actually keeping your heat inside. Learn how to draft proof your home.

  1. Use a programmable thermostat

Turning down the heat may sound like a weird thing to do when it’s -20 outside, but just turning your thermostat back 3° when you’re either away from home, or asleep can add up in savings on your bill. Did you know many older dial-style thermostats can be off by as much as 3 – 5° C Celsius? That can start to add up on your winter bills. Programmable thermostats are more accurate and let you automatically set temperatures based on your schedule. Learn how to program your thermostat.

  1. Add more insulation

Want to get serious about bringing down your winter bills? Try upgrading your insulation- it’s the investment that will have the biggest impact on your energy use, especially if you have an older home.

Basements can be a major source of heat loss for homes of any age. Uninsulated basements can account for a whopping 20% of a home’s total heat loss. Attics can be another culprit of heat loss in homes during the winter. If you look at your attic’s insulation and its 12 inches or less, you should add more so it reaches an r-value of 60.

Not sure where to get started? Sign up for an energy evaluation of your home through our Home Insulation program. Our Energy Advisors will give you a list of recommended upgrades based on your home’s unique needs. Make the upgrades and we’ll give you money back too!

  1. Balance out your bills          

Take the surprise out of opening your bill during winter months by setting up an Equalized Payment Plan. You’ll pay the same, equal amount each month based on how much energy you used in the last year. Any energy you used that was more or less than your monthly payments will go into a bank and you’ll either get a credit or have a balance at the end of the year when your settlement month comes around. Pro-tip- set your equalized plan up in the fall to avoid settling in the winter months when your usage is higher.

  1. Monitor your energy use

A great way to lower your energy use, is to better understand how much you’re using. Do you need to upgrade your fridge? Is your TV sucking energy when you’re at work? How much of an impact is the weather having? You can log into your NB Power online account and visit the Home Energy Report portal to see your monthly use and a breakdown of where it’s coming from. You’ll also get personalized tips to help you bring your bills down.

To measure the power and energy use of a specific device, consider borrowing one of our appliance meters from the public library. They are easy to use, but make sure you read the short manual first! Get started here.

Having trouble keeping up with your bills?

We understand there may be many reasons why you may not be able to pay your bill on time during the winter months. We can help by setting up a payment plan with you to help you get back on track. Just give us a call at 1 855 331-9633 or log in to your NB Power account and select payment arrangements. We’re happy to work with you to find the best solution for your situation. The Government of New Brunswick has programs to help with high winter bills.

 

 

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