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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.

 

 

Save energy with efficient holiday decorations

December 3 2020, 10:58 AM

Save energy with efficient holiday decorations

Lots of New Brunswickers are already getting their homes ready for the holidays - and we can’t blame you – it’s been a challenging year. As we head into the holiday season, here are some helpful ways to become more energy efficient and save money this year.

If you’re still using older traditional lights, consider making the switch to LEDs. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) transform most of the energy that they consume into visible light rather than heat.

This means holiday LEDs use about 85-90% less electricity than traditional bulbs. They also last up to 50x longer – so you won’t be replacing them as often. Holiday LEDs will also save you money!

How much? It depends on the amounts of lights you use and what type you were using before.

Check out this cost comparison*:

Traditional Incandescent
$43.66 per month

LEDs
$1.24 per month

That’s 97% less in energy costs!

*Comparison based on 6 strings of lights operating for 6 hours/day for 31 days

Timers are another great way to manage your décor’s energy use. Set a weatherproof timer to have your holiday lights turn on at dusk and turn off at bedtime.

You can also find solar options for driveway stakes, floodlights and other decorations – which means they won’t add to your power bill and you don’t need to worry about running extension cords!

Discover more simple energy savings tips for your home.

 

 

Utility Arborists Improving Reliability

November 18 2020, 14:19 PM

Utility Arborists Improving Reliability

We know that our customers rely on us as their energy experts to keep the power on with as little disruption as possible. Our team of utility arborists is a big part of keeping our lines healthy to reduce power outages.

Most utility arborists in our region don’t have experience cutting back palm trees in Florida after a category 1 hurricane. But that’s exactly the kind of experience that makes Brad Daley such an asset to NB Power.

Before joining the NB Power team as the Vegetation Manager for Distribution, Brad built up his expertise with a vegetation management contractor in North Carolina and as a Florida Power and Light employee. He faced almost daily storm and trouble calls and regular large tropical storms and hurricanes.
Beyond the frequency of storms, he says there are many differences between working in the south and Atlantic Canada.

“We can’t even compare the number of people in New Brunswick,” Brad says. “There were more residents in my county in Florida than in all of New Brunswick! This makes for very different planning and working conditions. Plus, the types of trees we work on affect the work plan. Vegetation in the southern US grows much quicker than vegetation here in New Brunswick, so our maintenance schedules are different.”

Brad leads the team of Vegetation Supervisors, administrative support, utility arborists and contractors responsible for maintaining the trees around our 27,000 kilometres of high and medium voltage lines across the province.

“People think in my role that I must dislike trees, but I love trees and respect the value they play in our communities – both in terms of beauty and environmental benefits,” he says. “We only cut when we need to – it’s about balancing reliability and what’s right for our communities and customers.”
A New Brunswicker through and through, Brad grew up in picturesque Miramichi, and is a proud alumnus of UNB’s Forest Management program. Like it does for many, his New Brunswick roots called him back in 2013 to be closer to his family.

He’s proud to oversee a talented team of employees and contractors who bring their skills and training to a high-risk job.

“Sometimes people assume we’re just out there hacking away at random trees with chainsaws,” he says. “That’s why we don’t like to be called “tree trimmers” - our employees and contractors are experts in their field, with many trained in tree biology and are International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborists. We deal with living, breathing organisms and do extensive training and testing to ensure we’re doing the right things for our province.”

Want to learn more about how we maintain the trees near power lines? Visit www.nbpower.com/treemaintenance. Here you’ll find videos about this important work to prevent power outages and a form to access tree maintenance for your home or business.

Leah Belding’s career path at Point Lepreau: from local youth to nuclear professional

October 20 2020, 13:28 PM

Leah Belding’s career path at Point Lepreau: from local youth to nuclear professional

NB Power is proud to own and operate Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant. Our employees at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station (PLNGS) work hard every day to produce safe, reliable and clean power for New Brunswickers. As part of Nuclear Science Week, we are happy to put the spotlight on one of our accomplished shift supervisors at the Station and New Brunswicker through and through, Leah Belding.

Standing in the Main Control Room at the PLNGS for the first time was a career defining moment for Leah Belding. At the time she was only 19, fresh out of high school, and working at the plant on a short-term contract in the Service Maintenance Department.

“It was a real ‘wow’ moment to see these nuclear professionals working in a room with hundreds of buttons and switches, and knowing that they were operating a nuclear power plant,” Leah said. “That is the moment when I knew I wanted to be part of the team that operates Point Lepreau.”

Leah was raised in the area, and calls the local community of Chance Harbour home, which is approximately 10 minutes from the Station. Upon graduating from high school, with family members, friends and neighbours who worked at the plant, she knew Point Lepreau was a good employer with diverse career opportunities.

During her initial six-month contract, Leah developed relationships with co-workers who became mentors and helped her learn about the career possibilities in the different departments.

“Getting an inside look at the roles that keep a nuclear power plant running was a great learning opportunity,” said Leah. “These conversations with staff helped me decide that I wanted my future to be at Point Lepreau, and specifically as part of the Operations team, which lines up with my love of hands on, dynamic work.”

Leah then enrolled in the Power Engineering Technology Program at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). Upon completion of the first year of the program, Leah joined the Point Lepreau team again, this time as a Power Engineering summer student. She was assigned to one of the Operations crews for her CO-OP program. This experience gave her a glimpse of what full-time employment would entail, the challenges of working shift work, and the day-to-day activities the Operators perform, such as applying work permits, general routines, alarm response needs from the Control Room Operators, and more.

Upon graduation from NBCC, Leah was hired as a Power Plant Operator (PPO), and took nuclear-specific plant training, along with radiation protection training, to give her a strong foundation to work at PLNGS. Two years into that role, she had the opportunity to become a Senior Power Plant Operator (SPPO) by completing additional training. In these roles, Leah performed field inspections and operational tests, among other activities, to ensure plant reliability.

Two years later, Leah was selected to become a licensed Control Room Operator (CRO), which she had set as her ultimate career goal.

A CRO is a position of leadership amongst the staff who are licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate the plant. A CRO is responsible for monitoring the status of systems or components, interpreting and responding appropriately to instrumentation, verifying the work of team members, and configuring the plant to allow specialized maintenance and testing to be performed. A CRO also plays a key role in plant emergencies and any events involving personnel safety.

The three-year CRO training program was challenging, with a year of general training, a year of station-specific training and another year of simulator training, where candidates train to respond to unlikely hypothetical emergency scenarios at the Station. This was followed by six months of co-piloting where Leah worked alongside a licensed operator in the plant to gain experience. Leah achieved certification as a CRO at the age of 29, just 10 years after setting her sights on the occupation.

“The training program to become a CRO was very rigorous and included a lot of self-directed reading and studying before we got to the hands-on learning,” Leah said. “In the midst of this program, I had my first child, and balanced my family and work commitments to keep my progress on track. I had tremendous support from my family and community, as well as my colleagues, who rallied behind me to help me achieve this important career goal.”

Leah spent the next nine years working on shift as a CRO, with her “thumb on the pulse of the plant.”

“I love the fast-paced work environment and team approach for Operations,” she said. “Being in the middle of everything and providing leadership and direction to the larger team is exciting and rewarding. Every shift I am relied upon to make important decisions based on what I have learned, to ensure the safety and reliability of the plant.”

In September 2016, Leah was once again recognized for her skills and leadership abilities. This time she was selected as a candidate to train to become a certified Shift Supervisor.

The Shift Supervisor role at PLNGS is the most senior role on shift in the Operations group. The Duty Shift Supervisor is responsible for ensuring the plant is operated within Point Lepreau’s Operating Policies and Principles, and the Power Reactor Operating Licence granted by the CNSC. Ultimately, they are responsible for maintaining nuclear safety to protect staff, the public and the environment. The Shift Supervisor makes operational decisions and prioritizes the work to be done. They also lead the response to any potential abnormal plant conditions or emergency situations.

She completed the simulator phase of her training, and after 40 co-piloting shifts with a senior mentor, the applications for her certification was submitted to the CNSC and she officially became a Shift Supervisor.

“It was a great honour to train to be a Shift Supervisor at the time,” said Leah. “I have spent 40% of my 19 years with NB Power taking formal training either in a classroom or a simulator, focusing on not only plant operation, but also the personal aspects of operator fundamentals – not just what to do, but how to do it to the high standards required and expected of staff.”

Leah, her husband, and their three children live in Chance Harbor close to where they both grew up. Their family ties run deep over many generations with connections to both PLNGS and the fishing industry. These links guarantee that Leah does not take the responsibilities of the Shift Supervisor role lightly.

“When I talk about ensuring the safety of the public and the area surrounding the Station, I am talking about my husband, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, aunts, uncles and friends, and the places we call home,” she said. “I am talking about my husband and our family members who are local fishermen providing fresh, safe food for the people throughout New Brunswick and beyond. It is my commitment to operate PLNGS in a safe manner every single day to protect the communities around us.”

NB Power Employee Helps Rescue a Fellow New Brunswicker

August 18 2020, 16:40 PM

NB Power Employee Helps Rescue a Fellow New Brunswicker

Sometimes heroes wear hard hats instead of capes.

Terry Bass, a Construction Manager at NB Power, certainly wasn’t expecting to be part of a life-saving rescue when he went to work on a beautiful summer morning. Terry was working alongside a crew from East Coast Powerline in the forest near Allardville. With the help of a Vortex company helicopter, they were working on reliability upgrades in northern New Brunswick.

While on top of an 80-foot tall tower, a member of the crew heard someone calling out for help. They yelled in the direction of the sound and a woman shouted back that she’d been lost in the woods for days and couldn’t walk anymore.

Terry and the rest of the team jumped into action, starting the emergency response plan they learn before each project. They coordinated with Ambulance NB and the RCMP before setting off in the helicopter. Armed with a backboard and medical supplies, the team was dropped off near the marshy rescue area.  

“The crew waded through knee-deep water, grass, mud, and kept going until they found her,” said Terry. “Amazingly she was able to speak and in good spirits but was not able to get out of there on her own. We worked together to carry her out of the marsh and onto solid ground. Then we figured out the nearest access road and carried her through the dense forest and brush while medics attended to her needs.”

After hiking about 2.4 kilometers, the crew was shocked to discover it was a woman from Saint-Isidore who had been missing for nearly two weeks. RCMP and Ground Search and Rescue had been looking for her.

“I just can’t believe she’s alive,” said Terry. “She said she’d been drinking water on leaves and eating berries she found on the ground. It’s remarkable that she was doing so well after such a terrible experience. We are all so happy that we happened to be in the right place – a very remote one – to be able to help her get home.”

Terry and the crew helped first responders get the woman to an ambulance and she was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries. She is happy to be back home, thanks to the heroics of our team.

Anyone who knows Terry won’t be surprised that he played a role in this life-saving mission. He is passionate about helping others and is a perfect example of what our employees are all about.

At NB Power, we are proud of our people that are the heart of our company. Working in communities across our great province, our employees have been serving New Brunswickers for more than 100 years.

This story is a powerful example of how a perfectly-timed coincidence, paired with courage and know-how, can change someone’s life.

 

 

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