December 12 2018, 15:52 PM
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)
*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.
November 22 2018, 11:11 AM
Camping is a great way to enjoy all the beauty New Brunswick has to offer. But did you know you can use your camping gear during an emergency like a power outage? If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you might have a lot of these items around the house already. Here are 7 items you can use to help you and your loved ones be storm ready!
Flashlights, head lamps and lanterns can help light your home at night when the power is out. Whether it’s just for a few hours, or a few days, these lights can spare you some stubbed toes during an outage. Make sure you keep spare batteries in a drawer or container for easy access. Avoid using candles, as they can be a fire hazard.
- 72 hour supply of non-perishable food
Food that you take camping can be a great option during an emergency or power outage. Make sure you have enough food to last 72 hours, as recommended by the Government of Canada. Canned food, freeze-dried meals and ready-to-eat food and snacks are all great options to have on hand. Don’t forget to keep a manual can-opener handy too!
If you lose power during the winter, large coolers stored outside can be a great way to keep food you want to cook that day cool so you don’t have to open your fridge. Make sure you keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. The contents should be good for 24-48 hours.
- Outdoor grill
Not matter the season, you can fire up your grill to cook food for your family. Be prepared by keeping spare fuel for your grill around so you can get it going quickly. Never use your grill inside the house- this is a major safety hazard- keep your family safe and only operate it outdoors.
Turn a spare backpack into an easy-to-grab emergency kit that includes the essentials like a first aid kit, water, cash, medications and pet food. Have a multi-tool for your camping trips? You can also add this to your kit. Watch this video to see what other essential items you need to get your kit together!
If you lose power during major weather events, you might not be able to get important updates on your smart phone, as sometimes cell service can also be impacted. Having a radio or solar powered radio on hand can be a great way to stay connected to your local news for important updates on the situation. During outages we work closely with local stations to provide updates on restoration progress.
- Battery banks
Portable battery banks are a great way to keep your smart phone charged on your excursions so you never miss a photo, but they can also help you out during an emergency. Make sure your battery banks are fully charged and somewhere handy during power outages. If you lose power, you can use your smart phone to report your outage on our website and check for outage updates on Twitter.
What other camping items would you use in your emergency kit? Tell us in the comments below. And don’t miss your chance to enter our Storm Preparedness contest.
October 26 2018, 11:28 AM
Is solar power the right option for your home or business? Due to the size of the initial investment to install solar at your property, there are a few important things you should consider. We’ve rounded them up here, so you can make the right decision based on your location, property type and lifestyle.
1. Conservation and Energy Efficiency
These are the most important steps. People often overlook conservation and energy efficiency as a step in integrating renewable generation. What good is it to pay a premium for a solar system if the energy is simply wasted? Since most homes would use more than they produce, the first thing you should consider before looking at installing a solar array is “Can I reduce my energy use?” Have you done everything you can to reduce your annual energy consumption? As we’ll look at below, it can be much cheaper to save a kilowatt hour than it can be to produce one.
Cost to avoid purchasing a kWh :
- Energy Conservation (insulation, air-sealing, changing habits, etc.) = $0.02/ kWh
- Energy Efficiency (HVAC, lighting, etc.) = $0.07/kWh
- PV Generation (Net Metering) = $0.12- $0.16/kWh
- PV Generation + Storage = $0.20/kWh
As you can see from the numbers above, the biggest bang for your buck in terms of reducing your building’s energy use is found through conservation. Combined with energy-efficient improvements, you could see a big pay-back for your initial investment. We offer a suite of energy-efficiency programs for homes and businesses that help offset the costs of making these investments.
2. Types of solar
There are two categories of solar - Passive and Active Solar.
- Passive solar harnesses the natural energy from the sun to heat an area of your home. If you have a larger window in one of the rooms in your home, and you’ve ever felt the room get warmer on sunny days, you’ve likely already experienced the effects of passive solar. Passive solar is something to consider if you’re building a new home, where you can position the building toward the sun. Passive House Certified buildings consume up to 90% less heating and cooling than conventional buildings do.
- Active solar is the second, and most familiar type of solar. This type uses mechanical or electrical devices to store or convert solar energy into electricity or heat. The most common example of active solar are solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays you may see on roofs. These arrays convert solar energy to electricity for use in your home or business. Another example of active solar is thermal solar, which can be used for space or water heating. (use photo of solar wall for space heating and solar water heater for home water heating)
Solar wall used at Saint John Transit. This example of thermal solar is great for commercial buildings
with large surfaces facing the sun.
Solar water heating. Great for large water heating loads like hotels and apartment buildings.
Can also be used for seasonal use like cottages and pools.
3. Location/ Orientation
Just like with real estate, location is incredibly important when considering solar. Get familiar with how the sun moves around your building and pay attention to how much sun it gets each day. Solar might work for you if you have an unobstructed roof (no shade), with proper slope that faces anywhere from Southeast to Southwest. Or it might work if you have a barn or yard that is unobstructed by shade, or a hill on your property.
4. Roof Pitch
Do you know how steep the pitch of your roof is? In New Brunswick, there are a few pitches that would work for installing a solar PV array. They are highlighted in the image below. If your roof pitch falls outside of this range, don’t despair, as there are newer options for racking hardware that your installer may be able to recommend for lower pitched roofs.
5. Roof area
If you’re looking at a solar system on your roof, you will definitely have to consider the size of your roof in addition to its pitch. The average roof only has enough space to accommodate an array of 4-12 kW. A one kW solar PV array produces about 1,200 kWh of energy per year as long as it’s at optimal orientation and slope. A 4 kilowatt array could produce up to 4,800 kWh of electricity a year, while a 12 kilowatt array could produce up to 14,400 kWh of electricity a year.
11k array in New Brunswick
6. Your energy use
Do you know how much energy your home uses each year? New Brunswick homes average between 9,000 and 25,000 kWh of electricity use annually. R-2000 homes are on the lower end, with existing homes not built to current codes are on the higher end of that spectrum. The majority of New Brunswickers use some form of electric heating, which can account for 50% of their total energy use for the year. Looking at how many kilowatt hours of energy an array in New Brunswick could produce annually, most homes would use way more energy than they could produce.
Want to learn more about solar? Leave your question in the comments below to be considered for a future blog post!
September 18 2018, 11:03 AM
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 coloured 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.
September 7 2018, 11:25 AM
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
- 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.
- Insulation batts
Precut sections of fiberglass or rock wool insulation. Can be used in floors, walls, attics and ceilings.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!